NASCAR Odds, Expert Picks, Predictions for Indianapolis: An Early-Week Driver Matchup to Bet (Sunday, August 13)
David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Christopher Bell
Sunday's Verizon 200 at the Brickyard takes place at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) road course.
With just three races to go until the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs start, some drivers are in must-win mode at today's race.
Other drivers are locked in and could use a win to pad their playoff points.
And finally, there are several "road course ringers" in the field who are looking to grab a win like Shane van Gisbergen did on the streets of Chicago just one month ago.
That should make the Verizon 200 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC) an action-packed and exciting race in Indy.
Looking at NASCAR odds for Sunday's Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, I've come across a drivers matchup that I really like between two strong road-course drivers, but whose teams have been heading in different directions as of late.
Let's take a look.
NASCAR Odds, Picks for Indianapolis
One interesting piece of data I came across while prepping for this week was that Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) is struggling big time.
I keep an "equipment rating" for each team, and right now HMS's equipment rating is in the bottom 10% of the distribution of their equipment rating since 2012.
It makes sense too. Alex Bowman has no top-10 finishes since his return from injury. Chase Elliott has five straight results of 10th or worse and has been struggling a bit for speed.
Even William Byron hasn't been as dominant as he was earlier in the year with six finishes outside the top 10 in his last eight races. Yes, he has a win at Atlanta (a drafting track) and led the most laps at Pocono after qualifying on pole before fading quite heavily, but that pales in comparison to five stage wins, two race wins, and two races leading the most laps in the first seven races of the year.
Kyle Larson has been the best HMS performer recently, but that still comes with no race wins, just one stage win, and no dominant performances since he led the most laps at Kansas back in early May.
Meanwhile, Joe Gibbs Racing has the top two drivers in the points standings and three of the top four. The only one who isn't inside the top four in the standings is rookie Ty Gibbs, who just snuck inside the playoff cut line this past weekend and who grabbed a career-best fifth-place finish at Pocono three weeks ago.
That's part of why I'm backing Christopher Bell over Chase Elliott at even money at Caesars Sportsbook.
Yes, Elliott is a road course ace, but the speed has not been there this year at this track type.
At Sonoma, Elliott was 10th in green flag speed, and 11th in FLAGS. Bell was slightly better, coming in ninth and 10th respectively in those metrics.
At Chicago, Elliott was 19th in green flag speed and was just 14th in most laps spent inside the top 15.
Bell, meanwhile, was fourth in green flag speed and led a race-high 37 laps.
Right now the edge in performance is with Bell overall – and at road courses.
The Bet: Christopher Bell over Chase Elliott (+100 at Caesars) | Bet to: -110