How to handicap NASCAR betting odds

Jun 20, 2017 |
How to handicap NASCAR betting odds
NASCAR has become extremely competitive during the past decade with at least 10-15 drivers having a legitimate chance to win each week. Many sportsbooks also post Top 3 and Top 5 finishing odds.
Photo By - USA Today Images
NASCAR has become extremely competitive during the past decade with at least 10-15 drivers having a legitimate chance to win each week. Many sportsbooks also post Top 3 and Top 5 finishing odds.
Photo By - USA Today Images

The two main types of NASCAR wagers are picking the outright race winner and picking the winner of head-to-head driver matchups.  Moneyline odds are used in both situations and resembles the same format used when wagering on golf and tennis matches.

Race winner

When picking the race winner, all drivers are plus money, which means you can pick four or five different drivers and still profit if one of them wins. Normally, the favorite is at least 5-to-1 (+500) or higher, with many competitive drivers at 12-to-1 (+1200) or higher.
 
NASCAR has become extremely competitive during the past decade with at least 10-15 drivers having a legitimate chance to win each week. Many sportsbooks also post Top 3 and Top 5 finishing odds.

Auto racing is a team sport and it takes more than one individual driver to win the race. The driver is the star, but he must rely on his pit crew and his crew chief to prepare a winning car and then make the necessary adjustments as the race progresses. Current form is important as teams go through slumps during the long nine-month season just like athletes and teams in any other sport.

Head-to-Head matchups

Another popular type of wagering option is head-to-head driver matchups. This wager involves just two drivers and the bettor must predict which driver will finish higher in the race. This is the preferred method used by many professional handicappers as it allows them to focus on or against a specific driver, without having to worry about the other 38 cars in the field.
 
Head-to-head matchups allow great flexibility for handicappers as you can either look to play on certain drivers or against certain drivers. The best betting situation occurs when one of your play-on drivers is pitted versus one of your play-against drivers in the same head-to-head betting matchup.

Racetracks


There are 36 races at 22 different tracks over the course of the season. Each track varies in distance, degrees of banking in the turns, and race surface. The longest tracks are 2½-mile super speedways like Daytona and Talladega with race speeds approaching 200 miles per hour, while other venues are half-mile short tracks like Martinsville and Bristol (or road courses like Sonoma and Watkins Glen) where the average race speeds are less than 85 mph.

Past histories are a very important handicapping tool as certain drivers perform better at specific types of tracks. The majority of the races take place on 1 to 2-mile ovals which are known as "cookie-cutter" tracks due to their similar design. However, various track temperatures and degrees of banking in the turns still makes each cookie-cutter track slightly different from each other.

Practice times


Another important handicapping factor is practice. Most races have two or three practice sessions for the drivers in the days prior to the main event. Most races are on Sunday, which means the first practice session usually takes place on Friday, followed by qualifying to determine the starting order. The next two practice sessions then take place on Saturday morning, with the final practice being known as “Happy Hour”.
 
The oddsmakers and media put too much emphasis on the qualifying times as the practice times are more predictive of the eventual race results. The first practice session is usually run in “qualifying trim” meaning the teams prepare the car to run fast for just a few laps. Changes are made to the setup of the car which would not be optimal for actual race conditions which requires hundreds of laps around the track.

The second and third practice sessions are usually run in “race trim” which more accurately simulates real racing conditions. These practice times and overall rankings provide an excellent gauge into how a team is performing that weekend and how they will probably perform on race day.


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