NASCAR is back! We know those words don’t mean much to casual sports fans out there, especially if we were living in a normal sports landscape. However, with live sports still very much at a premium, auto racing across all 3 series (Cup, Xfinity, and trucks) gives us a return to normalcy and another wagering option to take advantage of for the foreseeable future. This is the NASCAR betting primer you never knew you needed, and Bet the Board is here to provide it!
Wagering on NASCAR can be done in a variety of ways; meaning there’s plenty of opportunity to make money every race. It’s worth noting that the wagering menu will vary by series, so for those fans itching to watch 7 races in 11 days you’ll quickly realize that there are more options when betting the sport’s top series (NASCAR Cup) compared to the Truck series, which isn’t available at every shop. There are a variety of things to consider when actually handicapping a race, but rather than get into the mechanics of racing itself we’ll focus more on the bet types readily available for those new to the sport.
When it comes to actual bet offerings the most popular in auto racing is the outright market; aka picking the race winner. Think of this wager type akin to a futures bet in the traditional sense just with a champion decided inside of 4 hours; Coke 600 Memorial Day weekend not withstanding. There are obvious challenges in pegging the outright winner (especially in the current racing landscape devoid of practice sessions and qualifying) when a loose lug-nut, poor pit stop, ill-timed caution, or dreaded failure of post-race inspection makes the difference between rags or riches. If you’re trying to pick a race winner, more experienced bettors build a portfolio of multiple drivers to create various profitable scenarios instead of going “all in” on just one racer. Unfortunately, betting the favorite in a Cup race every weekend isn’t a shortcut to long term success. Something else to keep in mind as it pertains to weather; a race is considered official after completion of 2 full stages however, should a race need to be rescheduled to the following day, all bets remain action unlike baseball. It does go without saying, please check stipulations at your preferred sportsbook.
NOTE: Double-check when placing a bet in this market the wager is for the designated race rather than the season long Monster Energy Champion, as many a bettor has fallen into this trap.
Betting the race winner is what every gambler dreams of happening but in doing so, means you’re banking on one driver (or a select few) to beat out the entire field. That leads us to our second bet type called group bets as part of the traditional NASCAR offering. Group props consist of four drivers with similar outright prices where the goal still remains the same as the outright market; pick the highest finishing driver. The nice part of this particular wager is that your driver “only” needs to beat the other three in his competitive set to get you to the window. Also, when we say competitive set for this particular prop, you won’t see the race favorite listed in a group with another driver priced at 75-1; the goal for oddsmakers is to match competitors with similar expected order of finish.
Example: Erik Jones +250, Ryan Blaney +260, Kurt Busch +260, Jimmie Johnson +275
Last, but certainly not least, is the head-to-head match-up. This bet is the most straightforward with two drivers paired up against one another with an appropriate moneyline where the highest finishing driver is declared winner. One of the most common questions new bettors have on this bet is in regards to wrecks. Put simply, if your driver starts the race all bets are “action,” so if a car you’re betting against (or on) crashes at any point, the bet still ultimately has a winner. I’ll also warn those new to this trade, no match-up is really ever won or lost until a driver crashes out because even a 20 spot lead isn’t safe with the late caution always looming.
NASCAR has recently taken measures to expand its gambling footprint across the country adding live-betting at some shops as well. Soon bettors around the country will be able to bet things such as stage winners, fastest lap times, number of lead changes, and number of passes for every race. NASCAR has labeled its current rollout as phase 1 of a larger operation, and as fans/bettors of the sport we can only hope this new era is ushered in sooner rather than later.
Also we would be remiss if we didn’t include our own quip on responsible gaming. As always, do your homework and bet within your means; there’s no reason to be reckless with your wagering regardless of the sport and previous experience level.
BONUS BEST BET MATCHUP:  Kurt Busch -135 over Matt Kenseth