Kylebusch Betting Texas
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

How are your NASCAR futures bets looking before Round of 8?

Savvy bettors are pleased when the odds move in the direction of their wager. If the odds move in your favor, the thinking goes, you made a good bet, regardless of whether you end up a winner or loser.

A concept called “closing-line value” is a big part of this notion.

Let’s say you bet Denny Hamlin at +130 odds in a matchup prop over Kyle Larson this week at Texas Motor Speedway. By the time the green flag drops, Hamlin is +110. The betting market, which is pretty efficient, moved the number “20 cents” in Hamlin’s direction, and you were on the correct side of the move.

But as the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 ends, the No. 5 finishes ahead of the No. 11, and your bet is a loser.

Did you make a bad bet?

Not according to most sharp bettors, who would say since you got closing-line value (+130 vs. +110), you made the right bet. If you consistently get closing-line value, you will win money over the long term.

Let’s apply this thinking to NASCAR futures bets you may have made either before the season or before the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. While it’s not exactly “closing-line value,” since betting hasn’t closed, if a driver’s odds have shortened since you made your bet, it was a good play.

RELATED: NASCAR BetCenter | Cup Series title odds

Admittedly, some of this is no-brainer-ish. If a driver you bet before the season to win the championship is still in the Round of 8, you probably like your situation.

Of the eight drivers still alive, six have shorter prices now than they did before the season. The reason is obvious: A driver has a better chance to beat seven others than he does to beat 40.

Only four drivers, though, have shorter odds now than they did before the playoffs began, three are equally priced, and only one – Brad Keselowski – has seen his number lengthen.

Here’s how NASCAR Cup Series championship odds have moved at SuperBook USA from before the season to the start of the playoffs to the eve of the Round of 8.

Preseason Pre-playoffs Pre-Round of 8
Kyle Larson +1000 +300 +225
Denny Hamlin +800 +800 +500
Chase Elliott +800 +700 +700
Kyle Busch +800 +700 +700
Martin Truex Jr. +800 +800 +700
Ryan Blaney +1400 +1200 +800
Joey Logano +800 +1200 +1200
Brad Keselowski +800 +1600 +2500

Larson, of course, and Hamlin show particularly good value at this point, both priced with better chances to win the title now than they were even before the playoffs.

Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch are a tick shorter than they were before the season but equal to before the playoffs.

Martin Truex Jr., while assigned the same implied probability as Elliott and Busch, has seen his title chances improve over the last eight races, at least in the eyes of the betting market.

Team Penske is an interesting case: While Ryan Blaney’s odds have improved steadily over the course of the season, his teammates have gone the other way. This is largely a function of their places in the standings – Blaney is above the elimination line in fourth, while Joey Logano and Keselowski are seventh and eighth, respectively.

While Keselowski is now priced as a 25-1 outsider, we won’t revoke your “smart NASCAR bettor” card if you played him at 8-1 odds before the season. It would have been hard to predict before the season that Kes was going to announce in July his departure from Penske.

Is there any value left?

Before the Round of 8, the championship odds are pretty sharp by now. If you shop around, though, there may be value to be found.

Jim Sannes, a quantitative NASCAR analyst at numberFire, told in a direct message, “Only guy who is interesting to me at their current numbers is Kyle Busch. I think he has great odds of advancing given two of the three races in this round are at 1.5-mile tracks (and I’ve got him at 13.0% to win this weekend).”

While the SuperBook, BetMGM and Barstool are all dealing +700 on Busch, not even the +750 at FanDuel presents the value Sannes seeks. The +800 at Wynn just might, however.

RELATED: BetMGM Texas odds | Lone Star schemes

“It’s close,” Sannes said. “Just worried about the Phoenix speed. But I’d be very close to pulling the trigger there.”

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.