Las Vegas is the least unique track left of the schedule. That should not be misunderstood. Even the most calm and common track in 2022 is chaotic. This season only gets hairier, and each of the final weeks will be progressively provocative. As always, trust the spreadsheet but also trust your eyes. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas, which gets underway Sunday, October 16 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
No one cares anymore. The drivers are fed up. NASCAR is tired of listening to complaints. It’s an absolute mess that is only getting worse by the day. Last week, NASCAR severely penalized Kevin Harvick — the most vocal critic of NASCAR. William Byron, who intentionally wrecked Denny Hamlin during a caution, somehow was not penalized during that race, but then was penalized after the race when NASCAR was criticized, and then just before the Roval race, had the penalty removed.
The 2022 season is a joke. It’s okay to laugh. It’s okay to not care about NASCAR. This is not a sport, it is self-described “sports entertainment.” This is what the executives wanted. It’s not what the fans wanted, but it could be what gamblers want. In a legit stock car racing association, Las Vegas would be a simple event with only the favorites on the radar. This is not that. This is a racing league with a dysfunctional car and drivers that have been pushed to their limit. Respect for each other and for racing is dead. There are no rules. There are no norms or social mores. There are just four more races. Four more races and they’re done with this mess. Take is gone and only give exists. Expect insanity. Expect mayhem. Bet the long shots.
Race Winner — South Point 400
William Byron +1000
No one has been better in the last three intermediate track races. Byron’s average Dietrich Data score (a statistic that comprehensively synthesizes every lap) is 0.96. That’s nearly perfect and easily ranks No. 1. He earned a 1.00 at Texas, 0.92 at Kansas and 0.97 at Darlington.
He did not win any of those races. In fact, he didn’t earn a top-5 finish in any of those races. That’s a bit of an anomaly even for 2022. However, those disappointing finishes have suppressed his odds. Based on the nearly 1,000 laps during that span, Byron should be the favorite at Las Vegas. Based on the final lap of each race, Byron receives attractive odds that should appeal to analytical bettors. Sunday marks a new round of the playoffs. Byron doesn’t have to worry about points and strategy in the first race of the Round of 8. He just needs to go out and race — and win.
Joey Logano +1500
Similar to Byron, Logano is running better than the public and DraftKings Sportsbook realize. The analytics say he is due and is a true championship contender. The DraftKings Sportsbook and public have not realized the speed that the No. 22 Team Penske Ford possesses. This oversight will not last long.
Another key point in picking Logano to win is Team Penske’s propensity to build fast cars for the short run. This approach is sometimes questionable, but given the current environment of the NASCAR Cup Series, short-run speed is valuable. The Next Gen car is unreliable. It can break at any moment. This increases the likelihood of cautions and short-run finishes. NASCAR is reliable in that they are always willing to gin up excitement with their liberal use of the caution flag. Last but not least, the drivers are as reckless as they’ve ever been. Their cars are breaking down and are unsafe. NASCAR ignores the drivers’ safety concerns. Frustrations have boiled over and they’re taking it out on each other. A late-race caution could open the door to a Logano win at Las Vegas.
Kyle Busch +1200
If cooler heads prevail, then Kyle Busch has a shot at the win this weekend. That sounds odd. Rowdy and cooler heads? If there are long runs, no drama, no manipulation and few breakdowns, then the best car wins. It’s easy to forget that the Toyotas have been the best Next Gen cars. Before the road course race and plate race, the JGR Toyotas were breaking down left and right. However, before the gremlins emerged, the JGR Toyotas (and 23XI) were permanent fixtures in the top 5 every week. Busch hasn’t lost his speed. His mechanical failures were followed by two races at tracks that are fairly random.
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Head 2 Head
William Byron -225 vs. Chase Briscoe +185
William Byron -225
The odds suggest that this shouldn’t even be on the board. Briscoe gets a bet because he backed into the next round of the playoffs by surviving the Round of 12 (scheduling Talladega and the Roval in the same round is an embarrassment to motor sports and an insult to race fans). Byron is matched up with Briscoe because the conventional wisdom — based on finishing position — is that Byron is one of the weaker drivers among the Round of 8 drivers. The actual data say otherwise. Byron is the best and Briscoe is bad — really bad. On the season, Briscoe has a 0.58 Dietrich Data score. That translates into being a top-20 driver, but not very close to the top 15. In the last three intermediate track races, he has a 0.40 Dietrich Data score (22nd overall). Byron should be -400. Did the DraftKings Sportsbook look at any actual data? How did this bet get on the board?
Bubba Wallace +110 vs. Joey Logano -130
Joey Logano -130
This bet is similar to Byron vs. Briscoe. Logano ranks No. 2 in Dietrich Data score over the last three intermediate track races. He finished second at Texas and fourth at Darlington, and still he’s not getting any love. Logano won at Las Vegas in 2019 and 2020. He had a top-10 car and possibly a top-5 car in the spring, but a caution occurred right after his green-flag pit stop in Stage 3.
In contrast, Bubba is getting too much love. He did win at Kansas and his Toyota has been fast and reliable at the intermediate tracks in the fall. However, it does not make any sense that Wallace is receiving attention, while Kyle Busch and Martin Truex are afterthoughts. Again, there are perception problems. Logano and Wallace are much closer than Byron and Briscoe, but there is still a chasm separating both.
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