Freedman’s Favorite NASCAR Clash at Daytona Driver Matchup (Feb. 10): Kurt Busch vs. Ryan Blaney

Feb 10, 2019 11:24 AM EST

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kurt Busch

  • Matthew Freedman continues his series featuring one of his favorite bets for each day of 2019.
  • On Sunday, he looks at the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway (3:00 p.m. ET, FS1) and the driver matchup between Kurt Busch & Ryan Blaney.

Each day, I publish at least one quick-n’-dirty piece highlighting a favorite prop of mine. See my master list of 2019 prop bets for more information.

Also follow me in The Action Network app, where each day I post additional official player prop picks. On Sunday, we have eight-game NHL and five-game NBA slates on which we’ll want to get down some action.

2019 Year-to-Date Record

65-49-7, +18.78 Units

  • NFL: 21-13-0, +11.72 Units
  • NBA: 27-21-1, +5.84 Units
  • NHL: 12-12-5, +2.01 Units
  • Golf: 2-3-1, -0.70 Units
  • NCAAF: 0-1-0. -1.0 Units
  • Exotics: 3-0-0. +0.90 Units

Freedman’s Favorite NASCAR Clash at Daytona Driver Matchup (Feb. 10): Kurt Busch vs. Ryan Blaney

  • Kurt Busch: +110
  • Ryan Blaney: -140

The 2019 NASCAR season shifts into gear today with the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway (3:00 p.m. ET, FS1).

I freely admit that my knowledge of NASCAR is limited. Almost all I know about motor sports I’ve learned from Nick Giffen, who has published a couple of great RotoViz articles for this weekend’s race.

Although Nick writes primarily from a daily fantasy perspective, his analysis is highly applicable to sports betting, and here’s what Nick has to say about Busch: “He’s a candidate to get caught up in a wreck for sure, but can also win this race.”

That sounds like my kind of driver.

Anything can happen at the Clash for a number of reasons. It’s a restrictor plate race, so the driving is tight and the incident rate is high: Since 2013 (when NASCAR introduced the Generation 6 car), an outrageous 44.6% of drivers have crashed out of the Clash.

Plus, it’s an exhibition race at the beginning of the season: The drivers are looser because there’s nothing to lose, and the pit crews are less polished because they’re not yet in peak, midseason form.

Finally, the cars in this race are not the ones that will be driven next week in the Daytona 500. These drivers have literally no incentive to take it easy on their vehicles, so they often don’t.

I cannot stress enough how much of a chaos-induced crapshoot the Clash tends to be. And in his six Clash races in the Gen-6 era, Busch has failed to finish four times.

But it’s a small sample, and we’re talking about Kurt Freaking Busch at plus odds. And last year he did finish third after starting 14th.

Busch has horrible starting position this year. In the 20-car field, he starts 19th; Blaney, eighth. But in a plate race, starting position isn’t all that important, and Busch is the superior plate racer.

Last year, at plate tracks Blaney had the better driver rating (94.2 vs. 93.8) and quality pass percentage (78.5 vs. 75.0), but Busch led a higher percentage of laps (16.7 vs. 15.0), had a higher percentage of fastest laps (3.6 vs. 1.8) and boasted the superior running position (13.5 vs. 13.8) and finishing position (19.8 vs. 23.5).

In the entire Gen-6 era, Busch is second in all of NASCAR with his 13.3 average running position and third with his 91.7 driver rating and 68.0 quality pass percentage at restrictor plate tracks (per the RotoViz NASCAR Splits App). Blaney trails him in each category, respectively ranking third (14.4) and fifth (88.1 and 65.8).

Blaney’s good, but Busch is better, probably even in a meaningless exhibition race infused with chaos.

I’d bet on Busch down to +100.

The Pick: Busch (+110)


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.

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