NASCAR Returns: Betting Guidance For An Unpredictable Sunday At Darlington

Posted By Chris Sheridan on May 15, 2020 - Last Updated on May 18, 2020

Sports begin to emerge from the coronavirus shutdown in a huge way this weekend with as NASCAR returns at Darlington in South Carolina, a return to racing for Ryan Newman after his crazy crash at Daytona and a restart for the US sports betting industry that will go along with it.

With the return of UFC and motorsports this week, we are starting to see how American sports gamblers respond after nearly three months of having little more than Korean baseball and Belurussian hockey to wager on.

ESPN went hard on NASCAR coverage on Friday morning’s SportsCenter as large parts of the country remained under coronavirus lockdown. Californians in Los Angeles County will not be going to the beach any time soon, and New Yorkers learned Thursday that their lockdown will be extended another month until the middle of June.

This makes for a captive audience in terms of viewership, and Sunday’s race ratings could break records.

NASCAR is having 40 doctors, nurses, EMTs and other critical-care workers fighting the pandemic serve as “virtual grand marshals” for Sunday’s The Real Heroes 400. Viewers watching the race on FOX “will be able to see a mosaic of those everyday heroes kicking off the race with the iconic phrase, ‘Drivers, start your engines!’”

For gamblers, a couple of angles stand out and are worth watching as the weekend unwinds.

NASCAR odds: The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway

Winner

Kyle Busch
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+500
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+470
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+500
Kevin Harvick
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+600
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+700
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+600
Denny Hamlin
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+650
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+700
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+700
Martin Truex Jr
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+800
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+750
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+800
Brad Keselowski
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+800
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+750
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+850
Joey Logano
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+850
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+750
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+750
Chase Elliott
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+1000
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+850
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+850
Alex Bowman
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+1200
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+1000
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+1300
Erik Jones
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+1600
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+1600
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+1500
Ryan Blaney
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+2000
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+2200
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+2200
Kurt Busch
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+2200
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+1600
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+2000
Jimmie Johnson
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+2500
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+2000
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+2200
William Byron
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+2500
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+2900
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+2500
Matt DiBenedetto
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+2600
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+3300
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+5000
Matt Kenseth
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+2800
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+2900
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+3000
Aric Almirola
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+5000
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+4000
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+5000
Clint Bowyer
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+5000
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+3600
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+5000
Chris Buescher
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+10000
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+6000
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+7500
Tyler Reddick
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+8000
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+11000
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+10000

Expect the unexpected at Darlington

The random draw for the starting grid is new, and what it does to the odds will become apparent over the course of Friday and Saturday.

Will there be rust? The best bet is yes. NASCAR is typically well into its season at this point of May, plus drivers won’t get any practice runs in, pit crews will be smaller and there has been some concern about the heat inside the cars. As to how bettors are approaching the race, let’s look at a few notes from FanDuel:

  • The biggest bet is $2k on Kyle Busch at +500 to win $12k
  • Kyle Busch is also FanDuel’s biggest liability as the betting favorite (+470)
  • William Byron’s odds have changed the most since the markets opened (From +5000 to +3000)
  • Tyler Reddick at +11000 is the most popular longshot

Behind Kyle Bush, Denny Hamlin and Paul Harvick are both listed as the second choice at +700, and the third choice at FD is a three-way race between Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Martin Truex at +750. Keselowski won the random draw on Thursday and will start the race on the pole.

“We are seeing sports bettors embrace NASCAR this week,” FanDuel’s Kevin Hennessey said. “When we break it down by state, New Jersey bettors are driving the handle still but it will be interesting to see how more traditional motorsports loving states like Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Colorado embrace NASCAR’s return.

“Since the drivers are returning to work and no one knows what to really expect, we are seeing interest in long shot drivers,” Hennessey added. “Tyler Reddick at +11000 is the most popular long shot driver and his handle is rivaling that of perennial favorite Kyle Busch in early betting. William Byron’s odds have changed the most since the markets opened from +5000 to +3000 probably due in part to his iRacing prowess.”

What the experts are saying

No track on the circuit brings as much bumping and bashing among the competitors.

A writer who has been covering the league of left turns for decades handicapped the race thusly:

“I have no guidance on Darlington. There is no practice, no qualifying, they are guessing on setups. Can’t really translate from last year, when it was a day into night race, versus this year, which is a day race. Track temperatures, sun will be factors that weren’t in play last year.

“The favorites would be the obvious top teams and top talent based on the drivers’ ability to give feedback regarding one of the most technical tracks, so that teams can make in-race adjustments.”

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