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September 3, 2021

NASCAR betting: Martin Truex Jr. sees short odds to sweep at Darlington

Martin Truex Jr.
Sean Gardner
Getty Images

There was point earlier this season at which Martin Truex Jr. was the NASCAR Cup Series’ dominant driver. In a 10-race stretch from late February at Homestead through early May at Darlington, Truex tallied eight top-nine finishes, including three wins and two more top-five finishes. The two outliers were the dirt race at Bristol and the superspeedway of Talladega.

The betting market, of course, took notice, pricing the No. 19 Toyota as the clear favorite for what turned out not to be the 11th race in Truex’s impressive early-season run. He started on the pole at Dover that day but finished 19th, and he’s yet to return to Victory Lane since the Goodyear 400, the season’s first race at Darlington.

But as the circuit returns to the South Carolina track this weekend, so to does the market’s respect for Truex, who is priced as the second betting choice to win Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the first event of the 10-race Cup Playoffs. Truex sees odds in the +450 to +550 range at sportsbooks around the country.

RELATED: NASCAR BetCenter | Odds for Darlington playoff race | 2021 title odds

Favorite status, to no one’s surprise, belongs to Kyle Larson, offered for +325 at Barstool Sportsbook and +300 at BetMGM and WynnBET.

Getting the NASCAR playoffs started with three straight races on tracks that employ the 750-horsepower, low-downforce package bodes well for Truex. All three of his wins his seasons have come on such layouts (Phoenix, Martinsville, Darlington), and as pointed out by our friend Jim Sannes, he’s led the pack for a good portion of these races.

In a matchup prop available at Barstool, Truex is a +125 underdog to Larson (-167).

Since his most recent win, Truex has not been a model of consistency. Bettors have to weigh this reality against his excellent short-track record.

Around the garage

Kyle Busch. Another takeaway from Sannes’ above tweet: the massive drop-off in laps led on 750-hp ovals from Truex, Larson and Hamlin to Kyle Busch. While Busch (+650) is priced a tick higher than Hamlin (+600) at Barstool and Wynn, he’s +600 at BetMGM to Hamlin’s +700.

Busch’s season got off to a slow start, and his 247 total laps led rank a distant ninth. But the No. 18 Toyota has been among the best on the circuit since his win at Kansas in May, and his record on intermediate tracks is stellar. In 46 races on these layouts since 2018, Busch boasts a series-leading 7.59 average finish and a strong 105.5 driver rating.

Ryan Blaney. Blaney looks for his third consecutive Cup Series victory Sunday, but the betting market is dubious on his chances. The No. 12 Ford is priced at +2000 at BetMGM, +2200 at Barstool and WynnBET, and an eye-opening +4000 at SuperBook USA. He’s longer than either of his of his Team Penske garage-mates on every oddsboard.

Blaney, though, has been consistent on 750-hp ovals this season, with finishes of (10th, 11th, 11th, 8th, 12th, 37th and 5th).

While a win appears unlikely for Blaney, a solid showing does not. At WynnBET, Blaney is offered at +275 for a top-five finish and -125 for a top 10.

Kevin Harvick. Another week, another track on which Harvick has seen plenty of success. He’s a consensus +1000 to avoid another week without a win.

Harvick has finished in the top five, including two wins, in the six races at Darlington since 2018. His 3.17 average finish is tops among drivers who have competed in all six and his 113.2 driver rating is second-best to Truex.

Handicappers should be careful with these stats, however. Those two recent Darlington wins both came in 2020, when the 550-hp, high-downforce package was used on the track.

Similar to Blaney, though, “Happy” has demonstrated consistency on 750-hp ovals this season, driving the No. 4 Ford to six top-10 finishes in the seven races (we’re excluding the Bristol dirt from this analysis).

Barstool offers +135 odds on a Harvick top-five finish Sunday, and for those willing to lay the wood, a fair -240 on a top 10.

As an indication of the market’s unwavering respect for the 2014 Cup champion, SuperBook USA prices a Harvick vs. Chase Elliott matchup prop as a coin flip, with -110 juice on either side.

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.