NASCAR Odds, Picks & Predictions: Best Featured Driver Matchup Bet for Sunday’s Race at Watkins Glen
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick.
With just two races remaining in the regular season, the NASCAR Cup Series is back road-course racing for Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen (3 p.m. ET, USA) at, yup, you guessed it, Watkins Glen International.
Because there have been so many winners already this season, we have a good, old-fashioned points battle on our hands between Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr.
Blaney currently holds a comfortable 26-point lead over Truex for the 16th and final playoff spot. However, that cushion can disappear in a hurry with one wrong move in Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen.
As a result, it’s not unreasonable to think that Blaney is not only conservative in Sunday’s race, but that he also stays out at the end of both stage breaks to lock in as many stage points as possible, even though that’s not the optimal strategy to win the race.
This is the smartest way for the No. 12 team to ensure their driver earns a postseason berth, but it’s also something we as NASCAR bettors can use to our advantage.
Let me explain.
NASCAR Pick for Watkins Glen
*Odds as of Tuesday afternoon
As I just mentioned, the likely scenario of choosing points over race-winning strategy is smart for Blaney’s immediate goal, but is essentially sacrificing the best possible finish for stage points.
On the other hand, Kevin Harvick, who just a few weeks ago looked like he would have to point his way into the playoffs, has rattled off back-to-back victories, allowing him the luxury of racing for the win at Watkins Glen on Sunday afternoon.
Should this situation unfold – Blaney staying out for stage points while Harvick pits before stage breaks – Harvick will likely restart ahead of Blaney following the Stage 2 caution.
And from there, Blaney still might be racing conservatively to ensure he doesn’t wreck out and hand the final playoff berth to Truex, putting Harvick in the catbird seat for a better finish.
This alone leads to me believing that Harvick will finish ahead of Blaney more than 41.7% of the time, which is what his +140 matchup odds imply, and that’s not even factoring in that the No. 4 Ford may just be better.
Sure, Blaney has been the better performer on road courses this year, but Harvick has been no slouch either, posting three top-11 finishes in four races, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Stewart-Haas Racing driver simply outruns his Team Penske counterpart, straight up.
Bottom line, whether it be strategy or speed, there are multiple paths for Harvick to cash this bet, making the +140 price tag all that much more appetizing.
The bet: Harvick (+140) over Blaney at DraftKings