This has not been a normal season. The Southern 500 was not the normal Southern 500. Everything has changed. As always, trust the spreadsheet but also trust your eyes. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas, which gets underway Sunday, September 11 at 3 p.m. ET.
The JGR Toyotas should win every week. Somehow, they rarely win. How is it possible that a team can run so many laps inside the top 5 and not win? The Next Gen car is the answer. This is the least reliable stock car with the least reliable parts ever. At times, it feels like these cars just rolled off the lot at the local dealership and some hobbyist spray-painted a number on the door.
Excuse the hyperbole, but JGR has dominated the Cup Series in 2022 and has little to show for it. These Toyotas are fast, but there is so much out of the control of the teams and drivers this season.
It’s wise to chase longshots but making an argument for them in writing is difficult. That argument is not analytical or data driven. The longshots can win because it’s 2022 and the Next Gen car is a disaster. Look no further than last week’s debacle. It was real life Mario Kart with lightning bolt after lightning bolt taking out the contenders. The same thing happened in the first Kansas race. Every 30 laps a tire would blow and a race was ruined.
There are two paths on Sunday and every Sunday moving forward. Play the favorites and hope they run a clean race and the door to another dimension is not opened, unleashing the upside-down. Or play a long shot and embrace the chaos.
Race Winner — Hollywood Casino 400
The Favorites — JGR Toyotas
Kyle Busch +600
Denny Hamlin +550
Martin Truex Jr. +700
Christopher Bell +1000
Dietrich Data, formerly known as Real Rating, is my own statistical creation that comprehensively synthesizes a driver’s performance in a race. It scores drivers on a scale 0.00 to 1.00. I am now naming it after myself because I can. The JGR Toyotas rank one through four in Dietrich Data at the traditional tracks dating back to Dover in the spring (11 race sample size).
Christopher Bell — 0.85 DD
Martin Truex Jr — 0.85 DD
Denny Hamlin — 0.84 DD
Kyle Busch — 0.82 DD
Top-5 Laps in first Kansas race:
Christopher Bell — 29%
Martin Truex Jr. — 50%
Denny Hamlin — 36%
Kyle Busch — 70%
JGR are the favorites. The numbers indicate that they are the wise bet. The numbers also suggest this is a foolish bet. The number that matters — as analytically inappropriate as it is — is the number in the wins column, and that number isn’t that impressive. There’s a new winner every week, thanks to a poorly designed Next Gen car and outsourced parts. Not only is it hard for a team to dominate in this car, it’s hard for cars to simply finish. Embrace 2022. Give the long shots a look every week.
For NASCAR insight and quick betting tips, follow Pearce Dietrich (@race4theprize) on Twitter.
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Bubba Wallace (+2000)
The Toyotas are fast and this includes Bubba Wallace. Kurt Busch, his 23XI teammate, won the first Kansas race. Bubba finished 10th in the spring race despite starting 24th, two pit penalties (pit crew mistakes) and a caution occurring at an inopportune time.
Daniel Suarez (+3500)
The No. 99 Trackhouse car has speed. Suarez can’t win with bad luck. Saurez can’t win with no luck. However, if Suarez catches a break, then he could easily defend a lead late in the race at Kansas. He was in fourth-place when he wrecked out of the first Kansas race.
Alex Bowman (+3500)
The last time that Bowman earned a top-10 Dietrich Data score was at Kansas. This has always been a good race track for Bowman. For a longshot to win, a late race caution will be necessary. That is exactly how Bowman won earlier this season. He had a top-5 car at Las Vegas, a similar intermediate track, and a two-tire gamble at the end paid off.
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