Darlington was a mess. A mess. Did we have the hot cars pre-race? Yes. Did we have the leader with a lap to go? Yes. Did we have a race where top cars had mechanical issues after leading laps? Yes. Did we have the most attrition and fewest undamaged cars finish than any non-Talladega race in the last decades? Essentially.
The Cup race was terrible for all the quants & educated NASCAR bettors last week.
Larson & Chastain had plenty of laps led before breaking their cars. Will Byron was the apparent winner, -700 or more expensive in race before being wrecked on the final lap by Joey Logano. Tyler Reddick even came back from an early wreck and penalty to end up second in a week where we initially hated him.
Logano's not a fluke winner, but this is likely the centerpiece of a season win total down in the 1.5 to 2 area. He won the pole, had great track position, but was never the fastest car. We were Ford light last week, but very few folks seemed to have any of him at the consensus +1500.....Circa even teased him out at +2000 to try to draw cash.
I'm not sure what we can learn from Darlington, other than that the new Generation 7 car is harder to drive and we are getting double-digit caution counts not just at the rough Darlington strip.....but also at the typically cleaner big ovals we saw in the first month at Fontana and Vegas.
Kansas this week IS Vegas. It's the most similar track to the one where Bowman won from +2000, with Larson close behind. Same length, similar age of pavement for tire wear purposes, a hair flatter (which means you can model in recent results from the now-closed Kentucky Speedway).
For our purposes, a generic 1.5 mile track scout, which is likely going to mean a bunch of Hendrick cars up high in the mix.
The books are bored, and looking pretty low risk this week. Not a lot of price difference. 13 cars priced at +2000 or more expensive, down to that best price for Larson around 700. Essentially four cars around 700, Larson Elliott, Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Chastain, Byron, Truex and Logano in the +1000-ish block. Blaney, Reddick & Bowman reside from 1330 to 1600. And Harvick & Christopher Bell are out close to +2000.
Twelve of the last 13 Kansas winners are in those 13 favorite cars in the graf above. The only straggler being Brad Keselowski in better equipment five years ago.
Not a ton of pricing differential in these top drivers this week, meaning the books all cheated off the same test.
Initial feel is heavy on Kyle Busch and the Hendrick guys, short Hamlin & Truex, at least til we see qualifying. This is probably the place where Blaney gets back to relevancy as well.
No matter how good Ross Chastain has been so far this year, and at these types of tracks, he just feels very expensive around +1000. He has a Truck win here.
Erik Jones at +3500 has ceased to be a huge bargain as he's been all season, but is fast enough weekly that a lotto ticket or tiny dart on him, Briscoe (+3500) and Suarez (+8000) is probably still needed to cover one's bases.
Larson has just been super inconsistent this year. He won the second Kansas race in 2021, won California early this year, then second at Vegas......and then really a mess outside of maybe Bristol Dirt and a couple others. Mechanical breaks as well. You can get him at +700, which is cheaper than he was last week.....some places have him as expensive as 450 to 580. He has to put a good month together on these ovals before you can justify going hard at his current prices.
May just be a good week to grab that +175 for Any Hendrick Chevy that most books have run the last two weeks.
Remember, the belief that you can win from deep in the field is still there. Even with the Logan win last week around +1500, the average race winner this season has opened at around +2500......only one favorite has won this Cup season. One.
Not seeing a ton of great Cup matchups yet, but will get those out to subs pre and post qualifying. Trucks run here Saturday night, with an ARCA teaser prior. Love Eckes in most Trucks matchups, and love the matchup bet MGM is daring folks to make........sure, why not take Hallie Deegan +220 over Matt DiBenedetto; that's basically a dare to see who can keep their Truck on the track for the whole time. Will take Hallie.