NASCAR Betting Picks: Grant Park 165

Jim Sannes
Jim Sannes@JimSannes
NASCAR Betting Picks: Grant Park 165

In last year's Chicago street course race, Shane Van Gisbergen put a hurting on the field.

In his Cup Series debut, Van Gisbergen qualified third, worked his way through traffic later in the race, and got the win. It was a masterclass out of an internationally renowned driver, finally getting to shine in front of a new set of fans.

Since then, SVG has a pair of NASCAR Xfinity Series wins on road courses, and he's back in Chicago to defend his title in the Grant Park 165 this weekend. You can understand why he's the favorite in FanDuel Sportsbook's NASCAR betting odds, sitting at +550.

This time around is different, though.

Not only do all the Cup Series regulars now have experience on a street course, but much of last year's race was run under wet conditions. There's a chance of rain this Sunday, but it doesn't look like the torrential downpour it was in that one.

As a result, I think we see the Cup regulars fight back here. A good number of them grade out as betting values thanks to SVG's potentially being a bit overrated.

Let's dig into which values stand out most as of right now

Chicago Street Race Betting Picks

Ty Gibbs to Win (+2000)

(UPDATE: Ty Gibbs has since shortened to +850 to win. My model has him at 10.6% versus his new 10.5% implied odds, so I'm effectively right in line with market now.)

There's a chance that Ty Gibbs is forced to prioritize points in this race. If a winner outside the top 16 in points snags a victory, Gibbs will be right near the playoff cutline. If Gibbs does go for stage points, it'll put a dent in his finishing potential for the race.

Even with that in mind, I just can't ignore him at odds this long.

Gibbs had good speed last year in Chicago. After qualifying 12th, he was ninth in the first stage and sixth in the second. He ultimately finished ninth with a ninth-place average running position.

Since then, though, Gibbs has kicked his road-course results up a notch. In five races, he has three top-fives, all of which were backed up by top-five average running positions. Given how good he was on these tracks in Xfinity, that's not a surprise.

Speaking of Xfinity, Gibbs is one of a healthy number of drivers running Saturday's race, as well, meaning he'll enter Sunday with even more experience running the streets of Chicago.

It's tough to account for stage-racing strategy within my model, so it's possible it's overestimating Gibbs at a whopping 8.5%. But with so much cushion between that and his 4.8% implied odds, I'm totally fine firing away, even knowing the downsides.

Kyle Busch to Win (+3400); Busch to Finish Top 5 (+470)

(UPDATE: Busch has since lengthened to +5000 to win and +750 to finish top five. He didn't show much pace in either practice or qualifying, so the model has cooled on him. He's no longer a value to win and just a slight value to finish top five, so I'd be okay passing with where things stand now.)

Unlike Gibbs, Kyle Busch doesn't have to worry about points. He's so far behind the cutline that it's win-or-bust for his playoff hopes.

We know he'll be on the right strategy. And I think he'll have the speed, as well.

Busch has run eight road course races with Richard Childress Racing. He has been runner-up twice, and he has two additional top-fives (one of which came in Chicago last year). He would have had another in Sonoma had Ross Chastain not dumped him on the final lap.

Because of this, you could argue Busch's best chance to win his way into the playoffs -- and extend his all-time record of 19 consecutive seasons with a win -- comes at a road course.

My model is high on Busch across the board. It has him at 4.6% to win, up from 2.9% implied. His top-five odds are 22.6% for me versus 17.5% implied. Thus, I want to ladder this bet, putting the largest chunk on the top-five market for leniency with a bit extra on the outright in order to benefit should he spike his ceiling.

Alex Bowman to Finish Top 10 (+330)

(UPDATE: Bowman has since shortened to -290 to finish top 10. My model has him at 52.9%, down from 74.4% implied at the new number. We'll happily take the good movement, but he's no longer a value.)

Alex Bowman is in a similar position to Gibbs: he could wind up racing for points here. That's what dissuades me from taking higher-upside markets as I do show value in him to win at +7500 and finish top five at +1100.

A top-10 is easier to muster, though, even if Bowman does pick the less optimal approach.

In 13 Next-Gen races on road courses, Bowman has five top-10 finishes. That's 38.5%, well above his 23.3% implied odds. That's on top of four additional top-15 finishes in this span, meaning Bowman is constantly lurking either in the top 10 or right outside it.

My model is in line with his results: he's at 38.7% to finish top 10 for me. With such a massive gap between that and the market, I'm fine sucking it up and hoping he either goes on the optimal strategy or can rally at the end to the back half of the top 10.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Michael McDowell to Win (+1300)

I had shown value on Michael McDowell earlier in the week. Thus, I felt like a moron for not taking him once McDowell qualified third, assuming his odds would skyrocket.

Instead, thanks to the (justified) attention on Van Gisbergen, McDowell is still +1300. No complaints here.

In addition to the good qualifying run, McDowell had speed in practice. He was ninth in single-lap speed and fifth in five-lap average. Given he had an eighth-place average running position last year, that shouldn't be a huge surprise.

After qualifying, my model has McDowell at 10.0% to win, up from 7.1% implied. He's also a value at +170 to finish top five, if you want to avoid Van Gisbergen, but I personally think this is the better market.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Chase Elliott to Finish Top 5 (+370)

This track hasn't been ultra-kind to Chase Elliott across the first two years. Last year, he struggled all weekend before using strategy to finish third. This year, his speed on Saturday was just fine.

I still think we should be interested in him at such a generous number, though.

Elliott certainly wasn't out to lunch during practice. He ranked seventh in single-lap speed and 14th in five-lap average. He then qualified 18th, though he'll slide up a row at the start with Brad Keselowski dropping to the rear.

Elliott is at risk of prioritizing stage points, given he's in the running for the regular season championship. But with his middling starting spot, he might not be passing up many stage points to go on the optimal strategy. Thus, with my model having Elliott at 27.5% to finish top five, up from 21.3% implied, I think he's worth a long look here.

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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.