NASCAR Betting Guide: Verizon 200 at the Brickyard

Jim Sannes
Jim Sannes@JimSannes
NASCAR Betting Guide: Verizon 200 at the Brickyard

For its two years in existence, the Indianapolis road course has been NASCAR's chaos track.

Across those two races, a whopping 24.4% of drivers have failed to finish the race. That's not quite the same level as a superspeedway, but it's close. And it has led to some drivers with very long odds cashing top-10 and top-5 tickets.

This year, NASCAR has decided to make a change. They're moving the restart zone back, meaning the cars should be more strung out before they reach the beer funnel otherwise known as Turn 1. This won't alleviate all of the issues, but it should make things a bit less hectic.

As a result, I've lowered the expected attrition rate in my model, which should make the top-end drivers more appealing. Unfortunately, they're not appealing enough to bet them; I'm still showing the most value on mid-pack and lower drivers.

Personally, I'm good with this. If Indy does continue to skew toward chaos, the spots where I'm already showing value will benefit. But even if it doesn't, I view these drivers as being quality bets under the assumption of a more timid race.

So, which drivers grade out best based on the way I'm expecting things to play out? Here are three drivers whose top-10 odds are longer than my model thinks they should be based on FanDuel Sportsbook's NASCAR betting odds.

Ty Gibbs to Finish Top 10 (+195)

(UPDATE: Gibbs has since shortened to -120 for a top 10. My model has him at 45.5% post-qualifying, so there's no lingering value at the new number.)

Ty Gibbs established in the Xfinity Series that he was going to be a road-racing stud. He won his first career race at the Daytona road course and racked up two other victories even while going head-to-head with a veteran in A.J. Allmendinger.

Now that Toyota's road-course program is back where it used to be, it should be no surprise that Gibbs' transition into Cup on road courses has been smooth.

In three road-course races this year (counting the Chicago street course), Gibbs already has a pair of top-10s, and he had a 13th-place average running position in the other. He hasn't contended for wins, but we don't need him to in this market.

The one downside with Gibbs is that he will have his eye on the points standings. He's currently the final driver in the playoffs on points, meaning if forced to prioritize stage points or the finish, they'll skew toward the former.

Thanks to the new rules this year with no cautions for stage breaks on road courses, we can downplay that concern a bit. And Gibbs could still finish top 10 even if things don't break his way there. I've got him at 36.3% for a top-10, up from 33.9% implied.

Alex Bowman to Finish Top 10 (+250)

(UPDATE: Bowman has since shortened to -120 to finish top 10. My model has him at 47.1% post-qualifying, so there's no lingering value at the new number.)

Alex Bowman's top-10 odds are actually longer than Gibbs', but he grades out higher in my model, and we don't have to worry about points racing here as Bowman is likely too far behind the cutline for that. As such, Bowman should be our preferred bet between the two.

Road courses haven't been super kind to Bowman recently. His lone top-10 runs in the Next-Gen era have both come at COTA, a very different road course from Indy.

But Bowman has had decent runs, even if they haven't resulted in top-10s. He has four other top-16 finishes, and he was running well in Chicago before a spin led to electrical issues.

Other than COTA, Bowman's best road course has been Charlotte, another ROVAL track with heavy braking zones. That's likely the course most similar to Indy, but Bowman didn't run it last year due to a concussion. I believe the market is underrating his road-racing skills a bit.

My model puts Bowman's top-10 odds at 41.7%, up from 28.6% implied. It's a big gap, and it's one where I agree with the model.

Ryan Preece to Finish Top 10 (+800)

(UPDATE: Preece has since lengthened to +1000 to finish top 10. He also went down in my model, but he's now at 10.3% versus his new implied odds of 9.1%. That means there's thin value now for those who didn't buy in earlier in the week.)

Ryan Preece opened at other sportsbooks at +1000 for a top-10 earlier in the week. He was subsequently bet down to the +600 to +700 range.

Thus, with FanDuel opening Preece at +800, we should feel good about taking advantage.

Even if this isn't the best number you could have gotten at any point, I still show value in it. My model has Preece's top-10 odds at 17.7%, up from 11.1% implied. He's being treated as a back-marker, but I don't think that's the case.

Toward the end of his time with JTG-Daugherty Racing, Preece ticked up on road courses. He had good runs at the Daytona road course and COTA in 2021 before his team eventually folded.

In three races with Stewart-Haas Racing, Preece has a pair of top-15s. In the other, he was running decently well before getting caught up in a wreck on a late-race restart.

Preece has slowly started to turn things around after a rough start to the year. He finished top-five in Richmond, a finish he wholly earned by running well the entire day. If he can translate that form to a road course, he'll wind up a great value at this number.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Kyle Larson to Win (+1000)

I typically don't expect to show value on Kyle Larson to win at road courses. He has won on them a healthy amount previously, and that typically leads to aggressively short odds.

But he's +1000 now after showing solid speed on Saturday, and my model is showing value. That makes it hard to say no.

Larson had the third-best single-lap speed, by my numbers, after adjusting for which group each driver was in on Saturday. He backed that up with a sixth-place qualifying effort, allowing him easy access to the front.

It's also encouraging that all of Hendrick Motorsports had speed. All three of the drivers who were able to set qualifying times will start within the top nine spots. Given that Hendrick hasn't been as dominant on road courses this year, that's a big boost for me.

All things considered, my model has Larson at 9.9% to win, up from 9.1% implied. It's not a huge gap, but if Hendrick truly is rounding back into form on this track type, it's very possible my model is underselling Larson. There's enough here for me to dive in.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Michael McDowell to Win (+1800)

I had value on Michael McDowell to win at +3000 before practice and didn't take it. I was concerned that points-racing would be too big of a focus, potentially lowering his win odds.

But McDowell had tremendous speed on Saturday, so I do think it's worth taking a swipe despite the risk.

After adjusting for group differentials, McDowell had the second-fastest single-lap speed by my numbers on Saturday, trailing just Daniel Suarez, who won the pole. McDowell then backed that up with a fourth-place qualifying effort, meaning he won't have to work through much of the pack.

It also helps that his teammate, Todd Gilliland, had speed, meaning McDowell didn't fluke into his run. The team just hit the setup for this track.

McDowell has just one top-five in the Next-Gen era on road courses, illustrating his lack of upside. And again, points-racing could hurt him. But with that Saturday pace, my model has McDowell at 7.3% to win, up from 5.3% implied.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Ross Chastain to Finish Top 10 (+180)

Even though Ross Chastain qualified just 21st, he still had speed Saturday. He was seventh in single-lap speed after adjusting for groups. Thus, I don't mind taking a swing at him in this market.

The implied odds here are 35.7%. My model has Chastain at 37.7% for a top-10. Even that feels a bit light for a guy who has five top-10s in nine Next-Gen road course races.

This year, specifically, Chastain has finishes of 4th, 10th, and 22nd (the latter coming at the Chicago street course). He did not run well last year in Indianapolis, so it's possible the track just doesn't suit him. But his teammate is on the pole, and Chastain's road-course acumen is establish enough to buy into. I agree with the model on this one.

The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.