NASCAR Toyota/Save Mart 350 Betting Odds, Picks: Clint Bowyer Worth a Wager?
Photo credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Martin Truex Jr.
- The Toyota/Save Mart 350 gets underway at 3 p.m ET on Sunday (FS1).
- Martin Truex Jr. is the betting favorite at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook (+350 odds), followed by Kyle Busch (+450).
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) heads to Sonoma Raceway for the first road course race of the 2019 season. In an added twist, this will be the first time since 1997 that the series races on the full 2.52-mile layout, which includes the “Carousel” section, instead of the 1.99 mile layout used the past two decades.
Sonoma is a very technical road course, much slower than its longtime counterpart on the Cup schedule, Watkins Glen.
An important note: Do not overvalue overall road course performance when betting this race. All of my top performing statistical models show that overall road course performance is not a significant predictive factor.
Instead, track history at Sonoma far outweighs performance across all the road courses (including the Charlotte Roval which was run for the first time in last year’s playoffs). Other top factors in my models include both short and long-run speed in practice, and year-to-date performance across all races.
One other major factor that is not predictive of finishing position or winning: starting position. Since 2005, eight of the 14 winners have started 10th or worse, including two drivers winning despite starting in the 30s.
On the flip side, only two drivers have won from the front row (both starting second), and only four drivers starting inside the top five have won. If books overreact to qualifying, this is an opportunity to jump on some value from elite drivers staring mid-pack, or fade subpar Sonoma drivers starting toward the front.
With that in mind, let’s look at the top futures bets for Sunday’s race, including some very surprising odds for the driver who sits atop my model.
All odds as of 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Clint Bowyer +2500 to Win
First, I should note that at multiple sites across the industry, there are some egregious lines. This is one of them.
Bowyer is a former Sonoma winner, and the favorite to win the race according to my top two statistical models. One of the models looks at predicted average finish, and Bowyer leads that with a projected average finish of 6.0 over 10,000 simulations of incident-free races.
To show you how far ahead Bowyer comes, Kurt Busch is second with an average finish of 6.7. The other model only looks at probability to finish top three, and Bowyer again leads the field with a 59.4% chance in incident-free races.
Bowyer has a strong track history, with seven straight top-10 finishes if you remove his one race driving for the underfunded, and now-defunct HScott Motorsports. Six of those seven finishes were also in the top five. Bowyer paved the way in 10-lap speed in final practice, nearly 0.4 mph per lap quicker than second place.
Bowyer is at +1600 at DraftKings, and +650 at William Hill and +600 at Westgate. Bowyer is not being priced as the favorite, but he should be with the favorites at around +500 per my model.
I am instantly betting him at anything in the double digits, and would bet him as low as +600.
Jimmie Johnson +340 to Win Group C
- Brad Keselowski +190
- Daniel Suarez +325
- Ryan Blaney +330
- Jimmie Johnson +340
According to my model, Keselowski and Johnson are neck-and-neck in regards to average finish, with Keselowski edging out Johnson with a projected average finish of 9.59 to 9.63 — a statistical tie. Blaney and Suarez come in significantly behind at 10.9 and 13.8 respectively.
So what does Johnson have going for him this weekend? He has raced at Sonoma 17 times, with 15 incident-free races under his belt. In each of those 15 races Johnson finished 17th or better. Notably, in the higher downforce era of the Gen-6 car, he’s finished ninth, sixth and seventh, while Keselowski has struggled to finishes of 21st, 22nd, and 19th. Keselowski has finished ahead of Johnson once in nine tries at Sonoma.
Looking at on-track activity this weekend, Johnson practiced fourth and 15th, while Keselowski was 19th in both sessions. Johnson did not make a 10-lap run, but Keselowski was seventh out of 19 drivers who ran at least 10 consecutive laps. Blaney and Suarez were 13th and 15th in that category. Only Blaney posted better single-lap times than Johnson, but not by much. Johnson’s far superior track history is a bigger factor.
Johnson should actually be the favorite in this group with Keselowski slightly favored over Blaney and Suarez in a clear fourth. I’d bet Johnson down to +250. My model shows it’s also a profitable long-term play to bet both Johnson and Blaney in this group at these prices and hope either one beats Keselowski.
Other Futures Bets
There are a bunch more futures bets that are very out of whack when compared to my model:
- Martin Truex Jr. +640 to win. I’d bet this down to +450. Truex is a co-favorite per my model along with Bowyer.
- Chris Buescher +75000 to win. Bet down to +15000.
- Jimmie Johnson +4500 to win. Bet down to +3000.
- Alex Bowman +5000 to win. Bet down to +2500.