NASCAR

NASCAR Betting Picks: Enjoy Illinois 300

Jim Sannes
Jim Sannes@JimSannes
NASCAR Betting Picks: Enjoy Illinois 300

For the second straight week, there appears to be good value in the top-10 market in FanDuel Sportsbook's NASCAR betting odds.

That could be a bit unnerving. After all, last week's race didn't run long enough to get as chaotic as expected, so we whiffed on those values.

This week is different, though. Here, the projected chaos is lower, so we're not banking on things getting wonky for these drivers to come through. Instead, I think it's more so their raw speed that's undervalued.

Let's dig into that now, discussing where my model shows value for this week's Enjoy Illinois 300 in Gateway. Then, if more value arises later on, we can circle back and add that on.

NASCAR at Gateway Betting Picks

Noah Gragson to Finish Top 10 (+300)

(UPDATE: Gragson has since lengthened to +400. He didn't have a ton of pace on Saturday, so my model now has him at 16.6%, down from 20.0% implied. I would not be looking to add Gragson despite the more favorable number.)

With how well Noah Gragson has run this year, I'm surprised we're getting this generous of a number. No complaints here, though.

Gragson has excelled both on flat tracks and at those using this rules package. He was 12th in Phoenix -- a flat track using a different rules package -- and finished 14th or better in Vegas, Dover, Kansas, and Darlington, all of which used the intermediate rules package. In those five races, he finished top-10 three times.

Thanks to that strength, my model has Gragson in the top 10 31.5% of the time, up from 25.0% implied. I'll happily take the discount with how much speed he has shown early on.

Daniel Suarez to Finish Top 10 (+500)

(UPDATE: Suarez has since lengthened to +1000. He has gone down a bit for me after a poor qualifying run -- to 13.8% -- but that's still above his new implied odds of 9.1%. So, it's a bummer if you bet Suarez at +500, but I don't think he's a bad consideration to add if you didn't.)

Unlike with Gragson, I know why Daniel Suarez is this long. He has been doggy doo recently, and he'll be the first to tell you so.

A couple of things lead to my thinking that this downturn will be temporary, pushing me to believe in the model here.

First, Suarez said part of the issues were due to the team's experimenting. Suarez is locked into the playoffs thanks to his win in Atlanta, so they were dinking around, trying to uncover speed for the playoffs.

Clearly, it didn't work, and the testing is now over.

Second, we saw more speed out of Suarez last week, indicating the ditching of those plans may be paying dividends. He finished 24th, though that was due to a late pit penalty. Suarez ran 175 of 249 laps in the top 15, his highest percentage since the fourth race of the season.

Suarez has run well in Gateway before, notching a seventh-place finish with a seventh-place average running position last year. He also has finished 11th and 13th in the past two Phoenix races, showing he can get around flat tracks.

That's why my model has Suarez at 21.4% to finish top 10, up from 16.7% implied. With his recent struggles easily explained -- and hopefully in the past -- I think this is a good spot to buy low.

Michael McDowell to Finish Top 10 (+650)

(UPDATE: McDowell has since shortened to -180. He won the pole, so this makes sense. But my model is well below that, so the time to buy McDowell has already passed.)

Of the four values here, Michael McDowell is the biggest, making him my favorite bet of the week.

My model has McDowell at 18.7% to finish top 10, up from 13.3% implied. That's a pretty considerable gap, and I side with the model.

You can see why when you look at McDowell the first two years at Gateway. He had an 11th-place average running position in 2022, and last year, he finished ninth.

McDowell -- like Gragson -- has run well both at Phoenix and broadly in the intermediate package this year. He notched top-10 finishes at Phoenix, Kansas, and Darlington, all of which will at least in part translate for this weekend.

McDowell was already running well at Gateway, and it seems like his car is faster now than it was. That's why, if you're placing just one bet here, McDowell would be my choice.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to Finish Top 10 (+2000)

(UPDATE: Stenhouse has since shortened to +1500. My model now has him at 7.5%, up from 6.3% implied, so there is still a smidge of value left here at the new number.)

Longshots are longshots for a reason. That's always important to keep in mind.

I just think it goes a bit too far with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The implied odds for Stenhouse to snatch a top-10 are just 4.8%. Stenhouse's overall top-10 rate in the Next-Gen era is 18.6%, so you can see how low that number is.

Stenhouse has finished 32nd in both Gateway races in that span, which obviously ain't great. But he had a great run going last year.

After qualifying 12th, Stenhouse ran up front all day. He even finished sixth in the second stage. But a spat between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon ended Stenhouse's day -- and his good run -- early.

Stenhouse wrecks too often, but that one's clearly not on him. He ran inside the top 15 for 218 of 219 laps before that crash.

My model still has Stenhouse's top-10 odds below 10%. I'm not slobbering over him. But when he's 8.1% for me versus 4.8% implied, I'm willing to take a swipe and hope last year's speed is there again.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Tyler Reddick to Win (+1200)

I had some value on Tyler Reddick earlier in the week, but it wasn't enough to fire. Now that he has lengthened to +1200, I think the buying window is open.

My model has Reddick at 9.6% to win, up from 7.7% implied. He ranked fourth in single-lap speed in practice and qualified fifth, giving him easy access to the front.

Reddick is more known for dominating multi-groove tracks with lots of tire degradation, and Gateway is neither. But he had a fifth-place average running position in Phoenix this year, and he has made big gains at Richmond in recent seasons, as well.

If you want a more generous market, I do show value on Reddick to finish top five at +200. I think there's enough here, though, to generate optimism for the outright.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Ty Gibbs to Finish Top 5 (+200)

Ty Gibbs was fast on Saturday, ranking inside the top five in both single-lap and five-lap speed. He qualified ninth, and all of that is enough to make my model high on him.

I've got Gibbs finishing in the top five 37.7% of the time, up from 33.3% implied. He has finished top five in Vegas, Phoenix, and Darlington, so the enthusiasm makes sense.

Gibbs isn't as experienced at Gateway as most other drivers, having run here in just 2023. But with how well he has gotten acclimated to new tracks, I still think we can justify going here.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Kyle Busch to Finish Top 5 (+320)

I don't usually get to bet Kyle Busch as he is a darling of the betting market. This time's different, though, so count me in.

Even though Busch had solid-enough speed on Saturday, his top-five implied odds are now 23.8%. I have him at 28.0%, which is a solid cushion.

Busch has struggled plenty this year, but the intermediate package has been good to him. At Dover -- another shorter track that uses the intermediate package -- Busch finished fourth with a fifth-place average running position.

Busch won this race last year in the same car, so I think we can slightly overlook the overall form and bet him here.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Bubba Wallace to Finish Top 10 (+170)

Like the others here, Bubba Wallace will start up front. He's rolling off eighth and had good speed in practice. Thus, getting him at +170 for just a top-10 is generous.

My model has him at 44.8% to finish top 10, up from 37.0% implied. With how tough it is to pass here, starting position matters more, so I'm surprised we're getting a discount on a driver inside the top 10.

Wallace has run much better on flat tracks recently. He has a pair of top-10 runs at New Hampshire in the Next-Gen era, and he was 10th in the season finale in Phoenix, as well.

The form for 23XI has been up and down to be sure, but they have shown upside. When you add in Wallace's Saturday speed, I think this is a good number for him.


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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.