NASCAR Betting Guide: O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona

It's a good week to be selective with your NASCAR Cup Series betting.

They're running the Daytona road course this week, and any time the Cup Series turns right, you know who's going to be at the front. It'll be Chase Elliott (+190 at FanDuel Sportsbook) and Martin Truex Jr. (+400) in one order or another.

If you want to dip into the outright market, you need a driver who can beat those two. Not many have done that recently. In fact, over the past eight road course races, only one driver has.

Race Winner
Sonoma 2018 Martin Truex Jr.
Watkins Glen 2018 Chase Elliott
Charlotte Roval 2018 Ryan Blaney
Sonoma 2019 Martin Truex Jr.
Watkins Glen 2019 Chase Elliott
Charlotte Roval 2019 Chase Elliott
Daytona Roval 2020 Chase Elliott
Charlotte Roval 2020 Chase Elliott

So, we should just bet Elliott or Truex, right?

Sure! But you'll have to pay the piper. Elliott's implied win odds at +190 are 34.5%, and Truex's are 20.0%. Their win odds in my simulations of the race are 22.9% and 17.8%, respectively. You can bet them if you want to, but there's no value to be had.

Okay, cool. Instead, we can just turn to podium-betting, right? After all, Elliott and Truex can't take up all three spots!

Again, you'd be correct (unless we get some sort of multiverse in effect, and those do seem pretty "in" right now). But sportsbooks aren't run by dummies. They know how attractive these markets will be in a race with this dynamic, so everyone's number there is short, too.

In other words, if you're looking for easy answers, you won't find them this week. But there is still some lingering value on the board. Let's go through that now and see which markets are most attractive based on the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Martin Truex Jr. Over Chase Elliott (+120)

You don't have to bet an outright to get action on these two. Here, we're getting Truex at +120 to beat Elliott and Elliott alone. That's tough to turn down, even with how good Elliott has been.

For evidence of this, we can look back to the Busch Clash last week. There, both Truex and Elliott started at the back of the field. But by lap 14, Truex was already leading. He then got black-flagged, went to the back again, only to be leading 15 laps later. He worked his way through the field twice in 29 laps. That's not too shabby.

Of course, Truex wound up wrecking the same lap he re-took the lead, and Elliott finished second. But it was clear there that Truex had an elite car. He did at the Daytona roval last year, too, working his way through the pack multiple times due to an ill-timed pit-road speeding penalty.

If not for a pair of brain farts by Truex, he could have won both of those races. He also could have won at the Charlotte roval in 2018, but he got wrecked in the final corner while leading. Truex may not be as good as Elliott on road courses, but they're in the same tier.

My model has Truex ranked as the top driver heading in, and he has a better projected average finishing position than Elliott. As mentioned, Elliott's win odds are higher, but that's because he has increased volatility baked in. As such, we should take advantage of the perceived gap between the two and get exposure to Truex here. You could also consider betting Truex to win Group 1 at +200.

Chase Briscoe to Win Outright (+4000)

If we're not betting Elliott or Truex to win, we have to make sure we're getting good value on the number. That seems to be the case with Chase Briscoe.

Briscoe's outright number has bounced around all week. It opened at +5000, dipped to +3300, and is now settled back in at +4000. Hopefully you were able to get him at +5000. But the return to +4000 does give some lingering value.

Briscoe was tremendous on road courses in the Xfinity Series. In 10 career races, he won twice. In three of the races he didn't win, he led at least 30% of the laps. He was consistently in contention, and he converted on those chances several times.

Now, he moves up to the Cup Series and joins a team that was successful on this track type previously. Over the past three years, Briscoe's predecessor in the 14 car, Clint Bowyer, has the fourth-best average finish among Cup Series regulars on road courses.

So, we're getting a quality road racer on a team that has shown they can get the job done. That's a good recipe for a longshot bet.

And the win sims do show value. Briscoe -- despite what I thought were relatively conservative priors -- has 4.6% simulated win odds, and his implied win odds at +4000 are 2.4%. It's very possible this is overly optimistic. You could look to bet him in other markets as a result, but there's less value there (he's at 43.4% odds for a top-10 in the sims, and his implied odds at +130 are 43.5%). But for me, if I'm riding with Briscoe, I'm good letting it all hang out.

Kyle Larson to Win Group 3 (+320)

Group 3 is an interesting one. It has Elliott's three teammates at Hendrick Motorsports and A.J. Allmendinger, driver for Kaulig Racing. Clearly, the bookmakers are not worried about any potential equipment gap.

DriverOdds to Win Group 3
A.J. Allmendinger+170
William Byron+240
Alex Bowman+300
Kyle Larson+320

Being high on Kaulig is fine, especially with an experienced road racer like Allmendinger behind the wheel. They've been tremendous in the Xfinity Series and gave Kaz Grala a competitive piece last week. But even the non-Elliott drivers at Hendrick have found success on road courses.

That's intriguing here with this being Kyle Larson's first non-superspeedway race with Hendrick. Road courses certainly weren't Larson's specialty at Chip Ganassi Racing, but he had abundant speed. He won three straight poles in Sonoma and never qualified outside the top five there. He finished fourth at Watkins Glen as a rookie and added two more top-10 showings later on. He also led 47 laps at the Charlotte roval back in 2018 before running into issues. Now, he goes to arguably the sport's best team on road courses.

Of the drivers in this group, Larson ranks first in my model, and he has the best simulated average finish. We should have respect for Allmendinger's talent on road courses, but that reputation has created some massive value here, specifically with Larson.

Daniel Suarez to Finish Top 10 (+550)

Speaking of equipment changes, there are gobs of unknowns with Daniel Suarez. Trackhouse Racing has never run a non-superspeedway race, so we don't have a read on what their speed will look like.

But sportsbooks are treating Suarez as if he's in a back-marker car, and there's a good chance that's not the case.

Our only read thus far on a car's giddy-up is single-car qualifying at Daytona last week. There, Suarez had the 10th-fastest lap. The only other driver with top-10 odds longer than +350 who was even in the top 30 in single-car speed was Ryan Preece (+550 to finish top 10). But Preece needed a fast lap to lock himself into the Daytona 500; Suarez didn't.

Now, we shouldn't overreact to that because there are clearly massive differences between the superspeedway and the roval. But it signals to us that Suarez isn't driving a dud, and his odds here indicate that he is. There's upside in making assumptions early in the season around drivers who change teams, and this is the perfect gateway.

Suarez has had success on road courses in the past, notching two top-fives in Watkins Glen (plus one there in the Xfinity Series and one at Road America). That was with equipment that was leaps and bounds better than what he has right now, but it does show he can get around this track type if the car is decent. We should try to get ahead of the changes with Suarez and bet him at +550 to get a top 10 before any potential speed in this car becomes apparent.