Bettors faded Kevin Harvick ahead of last week’s race in Phoenix, but as the NASCAR Cup Series visits Atlanta this week, it’s clear the betting market still has plenty of faith in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. At both BetMGM and Barstool Sportsbook, as of this Friday writing, Harvick is listed as the +550 favorite (bet $100 to win $550) to take the checkers at Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
Priced at +160 to finish in the top three and -115 (bet $115 to win $100) for the top five, Harvick boasts the shortest odds in those Barstool markets as well.
After a dominant 2020 season, in which he won nine races and logged a 7.3 average finish, Harvick seeks his first victory since last September in Bristol, a span of 12 races. He also has just one top three over that stretch.
MORE: Full Atlanta odds
Several indicators, though, point to Sunday as the day Harvick gets off the schneid, beginning with his stellar history at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1.54-mile layout on which he has thrived.
Harvick has won two of the last three races in Atlanta and has led 1,111 laps there over the last seven – no other driver is even close. His nine career top fives and 1,348 laps led at the track lead all active drivers, and his 15 top 10s (out of 30 starts) are tied for first with Kurt Busch.
And with the exception of his 20th-place finish in Las Vegas, Harvick hasn’t exactly struggled this season. He’s finished sixth or better in four of the five races, and he ranks third among full-time drivers in average finish (8.2) and fifth in average running position (9.7).
So while Harvick’s early-season woes seem to have been overstated, the betting market is ready for his rebound. Another indicator: He’s listed as the +235 favorite in a group prop against Brad Keselowski (+260), Joey Logano (+260) and Kyle Busch (+340), the shortest price for any driver in the six group props posted at SuperBook USA in Las Vegas.
Lots of ways to get involved Sunday
Earlier this week, we stressed the importance of bettors having multiple “outs,” or sportsbooks where you’re able to make bets, allowing you to shop for the best lines. What may seem like minimal gaps between odds offered at various shops can make major differences in your long-term betting success.
Looking at this week for examples, if your pick to win in Atlanta is Keselowski, Barstool’s +750 offers the fatter payout than BetMGM’s +700. But BetMGM has +225 on Denny Hamlin to be the top Toyota, 10 cents better than the +215 hung at Barstool.
There are also over/under props posted at both books on the number of the winning car. Which shop you should place your bet at depends on which side of the prop you like. If you think the winner’s number will be over 9.5, Barstool’s -143 is the better price; if you like under 9.5, BetMGM’s +110 is the more advantageous number.
Barstool continues to offer lots of creative ways to get involved in Cup races. Among this week’s options: three different over/unders on car of race winner (5.5, 9.5, 18.5), three over/unders on grid position of race winner (4.5, 6.5, 9.5), and odds on any driver winning both Stages 1 and 2 and win the race.
Championship odds update
Kyle Larson, who won the Pennzoil 400 in Las Vegas and whose only finish outside the Top 10 came at the Daytona Road Course, has made the most significant leap up the championship odds board at the SuperBook since the season began. Opening at 10-to-1 odds at the conclusion of the 2020 campaign last November, Larson has been shortened to 5/1, sharing co-favorite status with Harvick, Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., to lift the trophy this November in Phoenix.
Hamlin, who sits atop the Cup standings heading into Atlanta, and Truex, who secured his spot in the 16-team playoff with a win last week in Phoenix, were both 8/1 when betting opened.
The long-shot winners of the season’s first three races, naturally, have seen their prices trimmed with their playoff spots all but locked up. William Byron has moved from 30/1 to 20/1 and Christopher Bell from 50/1 to 30/1, while Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell is a distant 1,000/1 after being left off the SuperBook’s initial futures offering.
Moving in the wrong direction is Kyle Busch, who’s been lengthened from 12/1 to an 8/1 opener during his less-than-impressive start to the season that sees him in 15th place. A third-place finish in Vegas is the best result so far for the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Toyota, which has finishes of 14th, 35th and 25th through the season’s first five races.
Ryan Blaney’s odds to win the championship, meanwhile, have stretched to 20/1 after opening 14/1.
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.