Five NASCAR Prop Bets for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas

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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With the NASCAR season shifting into gear, this weekend we get the Pennzoil 400. Whereas last week’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway featured its fair share of strategy thanks to the track’s high tire wear, this week we seem likely to get a rather typical race, as there’s nothing particular individualistic about Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It’s a 1.5-mile track with reasonably low tire wear, and it’s neither notably steep nor flat. It’s just a regular ol’ tri-oval. As a result, the machine learning statistical models and similarity scores at RotoViz this week rely most on track-type (instead of track-specific) history as well as final practice times.

 

For more information on the track and drivers as well as some daily fantasy NASCAR insight, check out the two podcasts I recorded this week with Nick Giffen (RotoDoc) of RotoViz.

When sorting through the over/under and head-to-head driver props for Las Vegas, I’ve opted to focus most projected finishing positions (as well track-type history and practice times) in the RotoViz tools.

Martin Truex Jr. (+115) over Kevin Harvick (-145)

I went with Truex over Harvick last week, and I live the #NoRagrets life. Harvick has the superior starting position (second vs. fourth), and he had a slightly faster 10-lap average in final practice (second at 183.881 mph vs. third at 183.623), but Truex over the last year has handily been the best driver at larger ovals, leading the field with an average finishing position of 3.1, driver rating of 128.8, and running position of 4.9. Truex has the higher RotoViz sim score median and floor projections (2.0 and 6.0 vs. 4.5 and 11), and 35 percent of his comparable drivers won their races vs. just 25 percent for Harvick. It’s easy to prefer Truex at these odds.   

Kyle Busch (+100) over Brad Keseloski (-130)

Over the last year Busch has the superior driver rating (104.7 vs. 95.2) and running position (9.5 vs. 12.6) at large ovals. Although Kez starts farther forward (eighth vs. 13th) and was slightly faster on his 10-lap run in final practice (fourth at 183.499 vs. sixth at 183.222), Busch has the higher projected finish in the RotoViz models (8.17 vs. 9.17), and he has the higher sim score ceiling and floor projections (1.0 and 4.0 vs. 3.0 and 6.0). While 25 percent of Busch’s comp group consists of race winners, not one driver in Keselowski’s cohort get the checkered flag. It also doesn’t hurt that Busch is racing in his hometown.

Chase Elliott (+100) over Joey Logano (-130)

This might be one of the easiest bets of the slate — so of course it probably won’t work out. Over the last year Elliott has the third-highest finishing position (9.5), fifth-highest driver rating (97.8), and sixth-highest running position (11.1) at large ovals. Those numbers are significantly better than Logano’s marks (13.0, 87.3, 12.9) over the same time. Elliott was markedly faster than Logano on his 10-lap run in final practice (fifth at 183.256 vs. 14th at 182.073), and he has the higher RotoViz sim score ceiling, median, and floor projections (2.0, 4.5, and 12.0 vs. 8.0, 14.0, and 19.0).

Ryan Blaney over 8.5 (-115)

Given that Blaney is starting on the pole and had the fastest single-lap speed (186.445) in final practice, he might seem like a strong bet to finish within the top eight, but over the last year he’s had an 11.7 finishing and 11.1 running position at large ovals.  More importantly, he was just 20th in 10-lap average (181.555) in final practice, and his sim score projections are atrocious with a ceiling of 11.2, median of 19.5, and floor of 35.8. The 20 drivers to whom he’s most comparable have led for just 3.7 percent of laps in similar circumstances.

Clint Bowyer over 10.5 (-105)

Over the last year, Bowyer has a 15.6 finishing position at large ovals, his projected finish in the RotoViz models is 13.68, and his median sim score projection is 13.5. His 12-month large-oval driver rating of 83.1 is 12th in the field as is his 13.8 running position. Bowyer finished 10th at this race last year, but the numbers suggest that he hasn’t consistently been a top-10 driver at this type of track in a while.

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Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports