NASCAR Odds, Picks, Predictions: The 5-1 Prop to Bet for Auto Club (Sunday, Feb. 26)

NASCAR Odds, Picks, Predictions: The 5-1 Prop to Bet for Auto Club (Sunday, Feb. 26) article feature image

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Aric Almirola

  • The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series' Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway goes green on Sunday, Feb. 26.
  • Live NASCAR odds show Kyle Larson as the race favorite at +650, followed by Chase Elliott (+700), Denny Hamlin (+800), Kyle Busch (+950) and Ryan Blaney (+1000).
  • Below we detail a NASCAR pick at 5-1 odds with value for Sunday's race at Auto Club Speedway.

Speedweeks provided a shockingly profitable start to the NASCAR season for me.

I say "shockingly" because, frankly, that is not usually the case.

And yes, I'd be remiss if I failed to disclose that my wife's bet on Ricky Stenhouse to win the Daytona 500 at 40-1 NASCAR odds did most of my bankroll's heavy-lifting.

But remember, #SameBankAccount.

Turning my attention to NASCAR odds for Sunday's Pala Casino 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at Auto Club Speedway, I'm taking a very conservative approach for three key reasons:

  1. The Cup Series visits Auto Club just once per season, meaning teams haven't raced here in a year – a race that was also the first at an intermediate track in the Next Gen car.
  2. The combination of a new nose and whatever gains teams made over the offseason will not be known until cars go green this afternoon.
  3. Rain and snow washed out practice and qualifying on Saturday, so we have no data to analyze ahead of Sunday's race.

As a result, I'm essentially sitting out of Sunday's race at Auto Club except for the following group bet that's posted at Caesars Sportsbook.

NASCAR Odds, Pick for Auto Club

*Odds as of Sunday morning

Here are the drivers and latest NASCAR odds included in Group D at Caesars:

  • Erik Jones: -105
  • Aric Almirola: +500
  • Chris Buescher: +500
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: +500
  • Justin Haley: +700

There's no denying that Jones should be the favorite of the group, but his -105 odds are steep.

A price tag of -105 translates to an implied probability of 51.22%, which is way too rich for my blood considering the uncertainty that I detailed in the introduction.

I'm instead opting for Almirola's +500 odds, and here's why.

Jones was the best driver in the four races at Auto Club, Darlington and Homestead, which are universally known for their high tire wear, in 2022, but it was actually Almirola who posted the best average finish of the group in these races.

Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, Daniel Suarez and Denny Hamlin were the only full-time Cup Series drivers who bested Almirola's average finish of 12.3 in these events last year.

In addition, the driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford ranked second in average running position (behind Jones) among drivers in this group at high tire wear races in 2022, which, combined with the best average finish, suggests he should be shorter than the other two drivers listed at +500 and priced closer to Jones.

Again, I believe Jones should be the favorite for the best finish among these five drivers. However, Almirola should easily be the second-most likely to win the group and has better than a 16.67% chance, which is what his +500 odds imply, to do so.

The bet: Almirola (+500) to Win Group D

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