While Martin Truex Jr. is the deserving favorite to win Sunday’s Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway, NASCAR bettors can’t be blamed for looking for something more enticing than 7-2 odds for their money.
With his win last week, Truex has two more than any other driver in the Cup Series this season. Not only did he finish first at Darlington Raceway, a track many race handicappers use as a comparison to Dover, he won both stages and led 248 of 293 laps. He has also been victorious at Phoenix Raceway and Martinsville Speedway, tracks to which teams brought the 750-horsepower, low downforce package to be used again Sunday.
Truex’s 4.3 average finish over the 10 most recent races at Dover is best in the Cup Series, and he as two wins, eight top fives and nine top 10s during that span.
Still, there are factors beyond these stellar performances that have him priced so low this week, +350 (bet $100 to win $350) at multiple sportsbooks around the country. The action bookmakers anticipate from bettors, who tend to put too much emphasis on recent results, influences how drivers are priced.
And there will be plenty of money bet on the No. 19 Toyota at Dover.
“When you have a driver who’s so dominant, especially like last week’s race at Darlington, you have a little bit of recency bias with the betting public, and the books know they’re going to get a lot of action on it, too. So there’s no reason not to make Truex a huge favorite,” said Blake Phillips, a sharp NASCAR bettor.
Seamus Magee, who posts NASCAR odds at BetMGM, added of Truex, “He’s running really well the past few weeks. He’s a Jersey kid, so (Dover) is as close to a home track for him as you can get. It’s a really short price, but this is where the money across the market has been coming.”
The “overzealous” pricing on Truex creates value elsewhere on the betting board, Phillips believes, and Denny Hamlin, Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, might be an interesting play at 6-1, odds available at Barstool Sportsbook as of Friday morning.
“I see Denny Hamlin as being a little bit under-represented here, which is crazy to say,” Phillips said of the Cup Series points leader.
While Hamlin has yet to win a race this season, Phillips said “looking at all the other statistics, he’s been absolutely fantastic. You can see some scenarios where a guy like that may not be getting enough attention.”
In Las Vegas, SuperBook USA is dealing Truex as a rather sizeable -150 favorite (bet $150 to win $100) in a matchup prop over Hamlin in similar Gibbs equipment, the No. 11 offered as a tempting +130 underdog.
“I would be taking that bet personally,” said Phillips. “…. If you look at the speed rankings and the lap times, Hamlin’s been a little bit faster than Truex at these (750 hp) tracks.”
Others in the mix
Much of the early action at BetMGM has been on Kyle Larson, according to Magee. The No. 5 Chevrolet, the 9-2 (+450) second betting choice, has been running near the front much of the season and finished second to Truex last week at Darlington.
“That seems to be where the early handle is going. Looks like it’s all Larson right now,” Magee said Thursday. “… Larson’s been running hot, too, so I imagine we’ll keep seeing Larson money coming in.”
Joey Logano was running fourth at Darlington before a pit-road speeding penalty late in the race took him out of contention. His fat price at Dover has to get some bettors’ attention.
“Logano has been great at the 750-horsepower package but has had a little bit of trouble lately,” Phillips said. “The penalty at Darlington didn’t help him at all. I see him out there at +1600 — might be a little bit of value there.”
POWER RANKINGS: Kyle Larson moving on up after Darlington
With Truex and Hamlin as dominant as they’ve been, plus Kyle Busch winning two weeks ago at Kansas Speedway, the Gibbs garage has started separating itself from the pack. Even Christopher Bell deserves a look.
“He’s not quite there yet, he’s still pretty green, he’s new with the team, but his stats are looking pretty great,” Phillips said. “I don’t necessarily see him as a major candidate for a top-three finish, but he’s a guy I would certainly keep an eye on. He’s a good passer. I think that’s going to come into play a lot in this race.”
Magee said he has heard Cole Custer’s name mentioned as a live long shot this week. Custer steered his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Ford to 10th- and 11th-place finishes at the Dover doubleheader last fall.
While Bell can be had at 25-1 odds in the outright market and Custer for a hopeful 200-1, here are some props offered at Barstool that give bettors a more realistic, albeit less lucrative, shot at cashing a ticket on these drivers.
- • Custer (+450) to finish in top 10
- • Custer (+325) to finish first in a group that also includes Aric Almirola (+155), Chris Buescher (+265) and Ryan Newman (+325)
- • Bell (-118) to finish top 10
- • Bell (+350) in group matchup against Brad Keselowski (+175), Alex Bowman (+250) and Ryan Blaney (+275)
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.