Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: William Byron’s 24 car
Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Kansas Speedway is a playoff elimination race. This is the Cup Series’ eighth race at a 1.5-mile track that includes aero-ducts, so there is plenty of data available to help us find value in prop bets.
Qualifying was a major story this weekend, as only three playoff drivers qualified inside the top 10. The other nine start 11th or worse. We can use this to our advantage since the betting market often overreacts to starting position.
Let’s take advantage of this overraction to find a couple of values for today’s Hollywood Casino 400.
All odds as of Sunday evening. Check out PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
William Byron (+190) over Ryan Blaney
Blaney was one of the three playoff drivers who qualified inside the top 10. He’ll start third for today’s race, dragging his winning odds down to +1200 from an opening of +2500.
However, if we look at the 1.5-mile tracks this year, especially recently, there’s little to separate these two drivers. Over the past four 1.5-mile oval races, Blaney and Bryon have finished within five places of each other. Blaney holds a slight edge in average finish, while Byron owns the better average green flag speed rank. Looking at all seven 1.5-mile races in total, Byron holds a 4-3 head-to-head edge over Blaney.
In practice, Blaney was undoubtedly faster … over the short run. As the number of laps increased, Byron closed on Blaney. Due to the limited practice time, the longest comparison we have between the two is over 20 consecutive laps. Blaney held the edge there by 0.14 seconds per lap.
However, when we look at the fact that Blaney held a 0.27-second per-lap advantage after the first five laps, we see Byron was much stronger over the long run. In fact, Byron lost less than a tenth of a second per lap going from five to 20 laps, while Blaney lost 0.23 seconds per lap over the same span.
Both Blaney and Byron are in it to win it, so their situations are similar. The price tag here is skewed too far in favor of Blaney, simply because of qualifying. I’d bet Byron down to +140.
Chase Elliott (+115) over Brad Keselowski
This bet comes down to two things. One, Elliott has been equal to — or better than — Keselowski at 1.5-mile tracks this year. Two, Keselowski is getting an artificial price bonus based off qualifying.
Let’s start with the first part. Elliott holds a 4-2 edge over Keselowski in average green flag speed when each driver has had incident-free races at 1.5-mile tracks. If we just look at the last five 1.5-mile races, allowing for the fact that teams can improve or regress throughout the year, Elliott improves even more. The Chevy driver holds a 4-1 advantage over Keselowski in average green flag speed during this five race period.
In practice, Elliott was slower over the short run. However, when the run extended beyond 10 laps, Elliott took over. Chase ran 0.1 seconds per lap faster than Keselowski over 15 consecutive laps, which is significant considering Keselowski was 0.25 seconds faster per lap over the first five laps. That means Elliott showed much less fall off, and was much faster than Keselowski later in the run.
These two should be about even money, so take any positive juice you can get on Elliott while the opportunity presents itself.