I had a real chance to go a perfect 5-0 in matchup bets I placed on Sunday’s Buschy McBusch Race 400, but then things went south.
Heading into the restart with three laps to go, I had a real chance to go a perfect 5-0 in matchup bets I placed on Sunday‘s Buschy McBusch Race 400. But things went south immediately upon the drop of the final green flag at Kansas Speedway, as neither the betting gods nor race luck seemed to be on my side.
At that late stage in the race, all five of my drivers were ahead in their respective matchups. By the time Kyle Busch took the checkers, though, my day had gone from great to a losing one.
This, sometimes, is how gambling goes.
In the hours before the race, I decided to test a theory that betting value can be found by comparing lines posted at sharp Las Vegas sportsbooks to those hung at other shops, and there were significant differences in matchup odds to exploit Sunday.
However, I was not exactly riding into the day with momentum. The Kentucky Derby didn‘t go well for me Saturday, as I lost on similar principles on which I based Sunday‘s wagers. The place I play was offering horse vs. horse matchups, but No. 10 Midnight Bourbon (+110) finished one spot behind No. 6 O Besos despite going off at 13/1 odds to the latter‘s 41/1, and Rock Your World (9/2 odds to win) appeared to have clear value at -120 over Known Agenda (11/1). I also played Rock Your World to win and in several exactas, but he was running backward by the time the field turned for the home stretch.
Trust the process, as they say, so I spent some time over coffee Sunday perusing the NASCAR odds at SuperBook USA and Circa Sports — two of the most respected books in Vegas — and identifying spots that implied value at one of my outs.
It took guts to fire on some of these plays, as the theory suggested betting against some of the top drivers in NASCAR.
I gave myself around $125 to play with. Here‘s how it went:
Bet: Ryan Blaney (+125) over Denny Hamlin (-145)
The SuperBook had the No. 12 Ford priced at -105 vs. the No. 11, while Circa was dealing Blaney +105. I liked the recent form displayed by this Penske driver as well as his performance on 1.5-mile tracks this season. Circa did adjust its line in Hamlin‘s direction later in the day, but at a nice plus-money price, I was ready to sweat this one out against the Cup Series points leader.
With three laps to go, this looked like an easy win. Blaney was second, and Hamlin fell to a distant 17th after hitting the wall with 25 to go. Then, battling with Busch for the lead, “Blaney‘s getting turned by Larson,” as Jeff Gordon exclaimed, and he ended up 21st to Hamlin‘s 12th. This is what‘s known as a bad beat.
Result: Lost $25
Bet: Kyle Larson (-110) over Martin Truex Jr. (-110)
Here we go again with a bet against a dominant Gibbs driver, but the -130 on Larson at both respected Vegas books suggested 20 cents of value at my shop of choice.
This look liked a good bet all day, as Larson led the most laps (132) and probably had the best car on the track. But the Larson-into-Blaney skirmish cost me not one, but two winners, with the No. 5 getting shuffled from third to 19th and Truex finishing sixth.
Result: Lost $27.50
Bet: Chase Elliott (-115) over Kevin Harvick (-105)
Elliott was -135 chalk over Harvick at the two Vegas betting locales, and I was fine backing the Hendrick engine over Stewart-Haas at this fairly cheap price.
Elliott was one spot ahead of Harvick on the restart but was blocked by Brad Keselowski on the high side on the final lap as Harvick went low and snuck into second.
Result: Lost $28.75
Bet: Kyle Busch (+110) over Harvick (-130)
At the time I made my wager, Busch was a large -135 favorite at the SuperBook and -125 at Circa, so Busch was an obvious play as an underdog. By race time, my book had caught up with the market and was dealing -135 on the No. 18. That meant I had excellent “closing line value” — many bettors theorize that closing line value is what you should strive for, as you will win more bets over the long term if you have a better line than close than you will lose.
Result: Won $27.50
Bet: Matt DiBenedetto (-120) over Tyler Reddick
The -150 the SuperBook was flashing on DiBenedetto implied 30 cents of value where I shop, and while the Vegas book adjusted the No. 21 to -140 later in the day, his fourth-place finish over Reddick‘s seventh gave me a second winner, and I averted a disastrous afternoon.
Result: Won $25
The final tally has me 2-3 on the day, down $28.75. That‘s a pretty big swing from the $125-plus I could have realistically won had the last three laps gone differently, and I would make the same bets again. No matter the sport, value can be found by spotting inefficiencies in the market.
As importantly, for a recreational bettor such as myself, the excitement from sweating Sunday‘s 400 miles was worth the 28 bucks.
Marcus DiNitto is a writer and editor living in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been covering sports for nearly two-and-a-half decades and sports betting for more than 10 years. His first NASCAR betting experience was in 1995 at North Wilkesboro Speedway, where he went 0-for-3 on his matchup picks. Read his articles and follow him on Twitter; do not bet his picks.