NASCAR at Homestead Early Odds & Picks: The Driver to Bet Now for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400

NASCAR at Homestead Early Odds & Picks: The Driver to Bet Now for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 article feature image
Credit:

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (42)

  • The final race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will take place Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC) at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • PJ Walsh details one driver to bet now for the Ford EcoBoost 400.

The NASCAR season comes to a close this weekend, and to be completely honest, I’m ready for a break.

Winning over the long haul is quite difficult, but, for the most part, that can be reasonably addressed and explained through the written word.

But with the rush of content creators getting in on legalized sports betting, the market has become flooded with articles, analysis, data, etc. that focus solely on making betting picks.

The problem is that much of this content is coming from people who don’t actually bet, keeping them buffered from the emotional rollercoaster associated with putting real money behind one’s opinions.

Sure, it’s easy to talk or write about putting feelings aside and making bets on only what the data tell us, but we’re human. The elation of a hot streak or big recent win can drive us to decisions that we wouldn’t necessarily make if losses are building.

We’d all love to be the Eli Mannings of sports betting, possessing the mental ability to immediately forget about disastrous results just to push the ball right back into the same tiny windows.

But it’s not that easy.

My 2019 NASCAR betting season has been a crazy one.

From kicking off the year with a 60-1 XFINITY Series winner at Daytona (Michael Annett) to losing a 37-1 bet when Ross Chastain failed post-race inspection (on Father’s Day, no less) at Iowa, then runner-up finishes from Matt DiBendetto (300-1) at Bristol and Chastain (100-1) in the XFINITY race at Texas two weeks ago, it’s certainly been an emotional ride.

I’ve even mentioned to friends and fellow bettors that this has probably been my best season handicapping the sport, but not even close to my most profitable.

And I’d be lying if I said a recent run of close calls, like Chastain at Texas and Aric Almirola (40-1) finishing second the next damn day, and the sheer fatigue of a nine-month season across three unique series (Trucks, XFINITY and Cup) weren’t weighing on me heading into Sunday’s race at Homestead.

Sometimes, it’s hard to put those emotions aside and pull the trigger on a bet we know is a good one. The “problem” is that Sunday’s race at Homestead is providing one of these solid betting opportunities.

So for one final time during the 2019 MENCS season, here’s an early-week bet I’m making.

Kyle Larson (8-1) to Win at Homestead

*Odds as of 10:40 a.m. ET Thursday and via Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook

Sunday’s race is so tricky from a handicapping standpoint because it will decide the championship.

The Championship 4 drivers, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin, are overwhelming favorites to win, and rightfully so.

Since the current elimination playoff format was implemented prior to the 2014 season, a Championship 4 driver has won every season-ending race at Homestead.

This is not only because they’re arguably the best four teams and drivers, but because the rest of the field doesn’t want to race these four too hard and do something that takes one of the contenders out of the race and out of title contention.

Simply said, non-playoff drivers want to let the Championship 4 settle it among themselves.

In fact, in 2017 Larson clearly had the fastest car, but was content backing off while running third to allow Truex and Busch dice it up for the title in the closing laps.

With that said, if Sunday’s race wasn’t the championship event, Larson would be among the favorites if not the single favorite, and here’s why.

Over the past four races at Homestead, Larson has the fourth-best average finish (5.8) and the second-best Driver Rating (121.7).

But what really sets him apart is his sheer dominance in fast laps (227) and laps led (324) over that span.

To put this in perspective, Busch’s 123 fast laps and Harvick’s 183 laps led rank second in each respective category.

And when it comes to fast laps, which is the truest way to determine the fastest car in a given race, Larson finished with the most in each of the past four races at Homestead.

So it’s not like he’s been dominant in one or two of those four races, he’s been dominant in every one.

And it’s not just his stats at Homestead that impress.

Prior to the start of the 2019 MENCS season, NASCAR implemented a new, high-downforce aero package. Therefore, it’s important to also try and integrate data from this season in our analysis.

Unfortunately, that’s difficult to do early in the season because there simply aren’t enough races yet to provide meaningful data.

However, now with basically a full season under our belts, we have numbers to dig through.

The tire combination that will be used this weekend at Homestead is the same combo from Chicagoland Speedway and Darlington Raceway earlier this season, as Homestead features a similarly abrasive surface as those two tracks.

Larson finished second in both of those events while posting the best Driver Rating (123.9).

It’s likely that one of the Championship 4 drivers ultimately wins this race, but Larson’s chances are better than the 8-1 odds currently available in Vegas.

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