NASCAR Betting Picks: Daytona 500


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Sportsbooks have offered NASCAR betting for a while now, but they still don’t have a good handle on the sport.  The result is that NASCAR is a great opportunity for the bettor to find value and make some money week after week.  There are a growing number of handicappers that focus seriously on NASCAR, and the analytical techniques are getting more sophisticated.  I’ve been handicapping NASCAR for over a decade now and am amazed that more people don’t bet on it.

There are two primary ways to bet on a NASCAR race.  The first, is to pick the winner of the race outright.  Since even the top drivers are typically ‘plus money’ underdogs (for example, defending NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson is +500 to win the Daytona race) generally you take positions on several drivers and distribute your wagers so that if any win you turn a profit.  The other common betting method is head to head driver matchups, which are similar to head to head matchups in golf.  Online betting sites quote prices on ‘driver A’ vs. ‘driver B’ and if the driver you bet on finishes ahead of the other driver you win your wager.

We’ll focus on a driver matchup for today’s race:

Daytona 500
February 14, 10:00 AM Pacific

One of the great things about handicapping NASCAR is that there are so many statistics available to work with.  Every practice is timed and evaluated, every driver’s performance at every track is dissected in a variety of ways.  A frequently heard term among NASCAR fans is a driver’s ‘average finish’ at a track.  Unfortunately, these can be somewhat misleading for our purposes and particularly at a restrictor plate track like Daytona.  A driver can have a better average finish but be less of a threat to actually win the race than a lower ranked driver.

Such is the case with our matchup today.  Brian Vickers has an average finish of 19.6 in five previous career starts at Daytona, with his highest finish coming last July (7th place).  Ryan Newman’s average finish is only 28 for his entire career.  In his last 16 starts, however, its 20.9 with three top tens and the 2008 Daytona 500 victory.  Over the past 10 races he’s among the top 10 best performing drivers.

NASCAR is a sport where drivers can have 20 or 30 year long careers, so its important to put career records into the context of current form.  In the most recent races, Newman has been one of the best drivers at Daytona and he represents a good value in his matchup with Vickers.  He’s also a good value to win the race at 30/1.

Bet Ryan Newman -115 over Brian Vickers

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