NASCAR Quaker State 400 Betting Odds, Picks: A Race for the Favorites?
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11).
- NASCAR's Quaker State 400 gets underway at 7:30 p.m. ET from Kentucky Speedway (watch on NBC Sports Network).
- Nick Giffen uses data from other comparable 1.5-mile tracks to find his two best betting values to win the race.
After a wild race at Daytona, where Justin Haley won as one of the biggest underdogs in NASCAR history, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to some normalcy with a Saturday night race at Kentucky Speedway.
Kentucky is a traditional 1.5-mile oval that was repaved and reconfigured before the 2016 season. That places it among the newest track surfaces, making it fast and smooth, with relatively little tire wear. That will make track position important.
However, don’t over-rely on practice times. The final practice came in the heat of the day, but the race is at night, where cooler temperatures and higher speeds will yield a bigger draft. Some of the best 1.5-mile racing under the current aero package has occurred under the lights.
There’s an abundance of 1.5-mile data available this year, including recent night races at Kansas, Charlotte, and delayed early evening finish at Chicagoland. We’ll rely on that, plus some on-track and track history data to handicap today’s field.
As usual at 1.5-mile tracks, it’s tough to bet on anyone outside of the favorites to win. However, one interesting note: The big three of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. have yet to win at 1.5-mile track in 2019.
Here are my two favorite outright bets for the Quaker State 400.
All odds as of 7:30 a.m. ET on Saturday. A quick explainer on the odds below: A $100 wager on +700 would profit $700, while a $10 bet on +2000 would profit $200.
Brad Keselowski +700
Kyle Busch heads into the race at the betting favorite at +350, which is too low to bet. Harvick is second at +600 across most books, including the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, but I’m not comfortable with his 1.5-mile record in 2019, with no finishes better than fourth. That leaves Keselowski as the driver among the favorites I think is worth a wager.
Keselowski already has two wins at 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta and Kansas), a second place at Las Vegas, and a top five at the most recent 1.5-mile track at Chicagoland. He also won the first race at Kentucky after its reconfiguration in 2016. That gives him some solid history heading into the weekend.
His weekend performance so far backs that history up. He was fourth in 10-lap average in final practice, and third in the cooler opening practice session. Keselowski also has impressive short-run speed, qualifying third and posting the third-best time over five laps in Happy Hour.
It’s thin value when you’re looking at favorites at 1.5-mile tracks, so I wouldn’t bet Keselowski at any odds shorter than +700.
Denny Hamlin +2000
After the big three, plus the Team Penske teammates of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, Hamlin might be the best of the rest at Kentucky. MGM is listing Hamlin in a 20-1 group that includes Clint Bowyer, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, and Aric Almirola. Those four drivers have a combined two career wins at 1.5-mile tracks (Bowyer at Charlotte in 2012, and Alex Bowman at Chicagoland this year).
Hamlin, meanwhile, has eight 1.5-mile wins, including one this year at Texas as a 30-1 longshot. Texas is significant, because it was repaved a year after Kentucky, making them comparable in the tire wear department.
Hamlin has also been strong in practice this weekend. In final practice, he moved from 10th, to fifth to fourth as the number of laps increased from five to 10 to 15, showing his strength over the long run. And maybe more importantly, he was tops among all drivers in 10-lap average in the cooler opening practice session. That could translate to night racing quite well.
With Hamlin’s long-run pace, he’s a nice complement to Keselowski who seems to have a better short-run car. He’s a steal at this price, and I’d bet him down to +1600 to win given everything he has going for him this weekend.