NASCAR betting: Playoff scramble impacts odds for Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona

Austin Dillon
Maddie Meyer
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With a 25-point cushion over Austin Dillon for the 16th and final spot in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, a conservative strategy may be the way to go for Tyler Reddick at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday. This notion is part of oddsmakers’ thought process, as they price the No. 8 Chevrolet at longer odds than they would have had Reddick needed to take more aggressive approach.

At SuperBook USA in Las Vegas, Reddick opened at 30-1 to win the Coke Zero Sugar 400, the final race before the start of the 10-race playoffs. Reddick and Dillon can both get in on points; 13 other drivers need a victory.

RELATED: NASCAR BetCenter | Odds for Saturday’s Daytona race via BetMGM

“He’s really good at restrictor plate,” Ed Salmons, vice president of risk management at the SuperBook, said of Reddick. “I’d probably have him at 20-1 if he needed to win. …

“Basically, Reddick just needs not to crash and have one of those other guys win. So I would assume that (Reddick’s team is) going to race essentially not to wreck. But you never know, sometimes these guys do things that you would never expect them to do.”

Dillon, who figures to be aggressive to clinch a spot over his Richard Childress Racing teammate, is priced at 18-1 on multiple oddsboards, including the SuperBook.

Among NASCAR’s three betting partners, WynnBET has the best price on Reddick (40-1), and Wynn and BetMGM are both dealing 20-1 on Dillon.

Here’s how the SuperBook and NASCAR’s trio of official books, price the baker’s dozen win-and-their-in drivers:

Driver Superbook Barstool BetMGM Wynn
Matt DiBenedetto 25-1 22-1 25-1 22-1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 30-1 22-1 20-1 25-1
Bubba Wallace 30-1 25-1 25-1 25-1
Ross Chastain 40-1 40-1 40-1 50-1
Chris Buescher 50-1 40-1 40-1 40-1
Ryan Newman 50-1 33-1 33-1 33-1
Daniel Suarez 50-1 60-1 50-1 50-1
Cole Custer 50-1 60-1 50-1 60-1
Chase Briscoe 60-1 60-1 50-1 60-1
Ryan Preece 60-1 80-1 66-1 66-1
Erik Jones 100-1 50-1 66-1 80-1
Corey LaJoie 100-1 80-1 80-1 80-1
Anthony Alfredo 100-1 200-1 150-1 100-1

Does the reality that these guys have to go all out, coupled with the randomness that tends to ensue on restrictor-plate tracks, prompt bookmakers to price them shorter than usual?

“You kind of have that in the back of your mind,” Salmons said, “but you know the guys that are good at restrictor place. Austin Dillon’s really good at this stuff, so his odds are gonna be much lower than what he would be at a normal race, just because at a restrictor plate he can win. At the other tracks he can win, but it just would take a little bit more.”

The Favorite

Denny Hamlin seems to be the exception to the rule that restrictor-plate racing is dictated by randomness – especially when it comes to Daytona. Over the last seven races at Daytona, Hamlin has piloted the No. 11 Toyota to a pair of wins and five top fives. This past February, he won both stages and led 98 laps before his bid for a third straight Daytona 500 victory fell short, largely due to misfortune on pit road.

Hamlin is the only driver in Sunday’s field priced with single-digit odds, listed at 8-1 at the SuperBook.

“At Daytona, he really seems to excel,” Salmons said. “He’s definitely the starting point this week, but it’s Daytona and you get these 20 wrecks, and anything can happen.”

Also Lurking

After Hamlin, the oddsboard strikingly suggests the “anything can happen at Daytona” mantra. Five drivers opened at 12-1 odds at the SuperBook- Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, William Byron, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney. Then, there’s a tight gap to Brad Keselowski (14-1) and Kevin Harvick (16-1), Dillon (18-1) and Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola all offered at 20-1 odds.

A perusal of past performances indicates a driver’s overall ability doesn’t typically translate to success at Daytona. After Hamlin, among drivers who have raced in all seven Cup events at Daytona since 2018, Michael McDowell has the best average finish, followed by Dillon, Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher, Ryan Newman, Bowman, Corey LaJoie and Matt DiBenedetto. That’s not a list that mirrors the top of the Cup standings.

This analysis isn’t quite fair to Larson, who has raced in six of the seven races and would fit right behind Buescher on the list with a 15.83 average finish.

How about some other top drivers in the series? Well, most are pretty far down the list. Martin Truex Jr. (30-1 at the SuperBook) has compiled a modest 19.71 average finish, Elliott a 20.00 average, with Byron (20.71), Blaney (21.71) and Busch (22.14) also not finishing near the front.

There’s a reason many sharp bettors stay away from these races. Indeed, anything can happen at Daytona.

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.