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NASCAR Odds, Picks, Predictions for Darlington: The Featured Matchup to Bet for Sunday’s Goodyear 400

NASCAR Odds, Picks, Predictions for Darlington: The Featured Matchup to Bet for Sunday’s Goodyear 400 article feature image
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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Driver William Byron on the track.

After a rain delayed finish at Dover, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to its second consecutive race at a steeply-banked track. Drivers and teams head to Darlington Raceway for the Goodyear 400 on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1).

Like Dover, Darlington features high banks and plenty of tire wear. Along with Homestead-Miami Speedway, this trio of tracks are quite similar.

In fact, when correlating average running position on a year-by-year basis at every track on the circuit, Dover and Homestead come out first and second among active tracks in correlation to Darlington.

However, my model also says that track history is important as well.

That’s because Darlington has its own unique features. Turns 1 and 2 have a wider radius and higher banking than Turns 3 and 4.

This egg shape differentiates it from Dover and Homestead, which each feature 180 degree turns.

In all, we can compile three major factors when evaluating Darlington performance.

  1. Year-to-date performance at all tracks
  2. Performance at recent correlated tracks like Dover and Homestead
  3. Performance at Darlington

When looking at these three factors, one featured matchup turns into quite the value bet.

NASCAR Picks for Darlington

*Odds as of Wednesday morning

Ryan Blaney and William Byron have started out the first third of the season as two of the best drivers in the series.

The duo are second and third in the point standings, but are each coming off a poor result at Dover.

With the season-long picture nearly a toss up, let’s turn to similar tracks, and Darlington itself.

Throughout his career, Blaney has struggled at Darlington, as well as Dover and Homestead, relative to other tracks.

In major incident-free races, Blaney has performed 14.8% worse in driver rating at Darlington than at all tracks combined in his career. Byron, on the other hand, has been 6.8% better.

Extending that to Homestead and Dover for a larger sample size, Blaney has been 9.5% worse at these tracks than all tracks combined, while Byron has been 8.6% better.

My early-week model gives Byron a 9.1% chance to win the race, while Blaney only has a 4.2% chance of winning. I haven’t yet been able to run full race simulations, but these winning probabilities should translate quite closely with matchup probabilities.

Byron should be much closer to a -200 favorite than the -120 line at DraftKings implies.

The Bet: William Byron -120 over Ryan Blaney | Bet to: -150

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