NASCAR Betting Picks: Best Driver Matchups for Saturday’s All-Star Race

NASCAR Betting Picks: Best Driver Matchups for Saturday’s All-Star Race article feature image

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Erik Jones

  • NASCAR's All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Sppedway will start tonight at 8 p.m. ET (FS1).
  • Nick Giffen offers his favorite driver matchup bets for tonight's race, including Kurt Busch vs. Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski vs. Erik Jones.

Tonight’s All-Star Open (6 p.m. ET, FS1) and Main Event (8 p.m. ET, FS1) are short-field events, with 24 drivers competing in the open, and 19 in the All-Star feature. That means head-to-head and other prop bets for the race weekend are a bit limited.

At the time of writing, no prop bets have been posted for the Open, and only head-to-head matchups are currently being offered for the main event.

Thankfully, there are a few good values among those matchup bets. If any other props get added closer to the drop of the green flag for the Open, I’ll be sure to update this post with any additional bets I’m making.

Kurt Busch +135 over Chase Elliott

I’m not sure why Busch is such a huge dog against Elliott, but Kurt could actually be the favorite when looking at the statistics. Busch has been a model of consistency, posting finishes of third, fifth, ninth and seventh, while Elliott has finishes of 19th, ninth, 13th and fourth over the same four 1.5-mile races in 2019, with no major incidents.

But looking beyond average finish, Kurt Busch is severely underrated this weekend. Here’s a table showing how undervalued Busch is:

  • Win Rnk: The ordinal ranking based on the current Westgate odds to win (with ties averaged among the drivers).
  • AvgSpd: The average green flag speed ranking from the four 1.5-mile races this year.
  • SpdRnk: The ordinal ranking of AvgSpd for the drivers locked into the main event.
  • Diff: The different between SpdRnk and WinRnk. A positive number means the driver has run better than the odds suggest.

We can see from the table that Kurt Busch is the most undervalued driver in the field, while Elliott is slightly overvalued. The elder Busch brother has a 6.75 average green flag speed rank while Elliott comes in at 9.75, yet somehow Busch is the dog.

Busch also practiced faster than Elliott over 10-consecutive laps in final practice. I think Busch is the clear favorite and I’d bet him down to -120.

Aric Almirola +105 over Erik Jones

Almirola has run 14 races at 1.5-mile tracks during his career at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). Twelve of those races have been incident-free, in which he’s averaged a 9.25 finish, with a worst finish of 13th.

Additionally, in one of the two races he had an incident, he dominated a large portion of the race before a loose wheel took him out of contention. That’s a model of consistency. Jones has also posted excellent finishes, with an average of 7.6 during the same span.

But I’m banking on Almirola for a few reasons. Looking at average green flag speed for 2019 at the 1.5-mile tracks, Almirola checks in at 10.5 while Jones is at 12.0. Neither driver has had a major incident in those races, so this is an appropriate comparison.

Referencing the table above, Almirola comes in as the second-most undervalued driver based on this metric relative to betting odds, while Jones is the third-most overvalued.

Almirola also ran 0.9 mph faster than Jones over 10-consecutive laps in final practice. He should be the favorite, not the dog. I’d bet Almirola down to -110.

Brad Keselowski -160 over Austin Dillon

It’s rare I bet such a huge favorite in NASCAR head-to-head matchups, but this is as much of a lock as it gets if luck wasn’t a factor. Of course, luck is a factor, so we need to determine how much randomness is inherent in the All-Star race.

The average incident rate at 1.5-mile tracks since 2013 when the Gen-6 car was introduced hovers just below 18%. During this same time frame, the All-Star race has an average incident rate of 16.8%. Certainly the segments will add a small amount of randomness to the process, but that randomness will be reduced a little bit with the final stage coming in at five laps longer than previous years.

Keselowski should be an exceptionally strong favorite barring a major incident even with the added randomness. The table above says indicates why — Keselowski’s 8.5-to-17.25 advantage in green flag speed, plus his average finish of 1.3 in his three incident-free 1.5-mile races in 2019 gives him a massive leg up on Dillon, whose best 1.5-mile finish is 14th.

I’d bet Keselowski down to -190.