What a fantastic pair of races at California. Seriously, competitive, speed from cars deeper in the field, and the spotlight on not just guys who had the best aero, but those who could drive as well.
Trouble is, Kyle Larson was still the absolute best driver either day and won as a seemingly expensive +400 to +500 before flags dropped, even after starting in the back of the field after a minor pre-race repair.
By the kickoff on Sunday, we had gone back to being long Larson and Chevy. But we definitely should have gone longer.
Our Cup card ended down a super lame -0.2 Units, and the Xfinity card was up an exhilarating +.31 Units for a net positive of ) +.11 Units to the good for California. Green is good, regardless.
Thankfully, Daytona was +6.05 Units for a season mark of +6.16 Units for the brand new 2022 NASCAR Season.
Much of the work we do in matchups is betting against guys we think are flawed. Slow, inexperienced, or just out of their depth paired against usually the Top 10 cars in any of the three series.
So, we bet against Trevor Bayne in literally every Xfinity matchup we could find.
Who is Trevor Bayne? The youngest guy to ever win the Daytona 500, doing so randomly in 2011. He spent most of the rest of the decade on second tier Ford teams in the Cup series, occasionally competing well at superspeedways likes Dayton & Talladega. Never won another Cup race in the following seven years and 185 races.
He literally hadn't been in an Xfinity Series car since 2016, and had last done about a half-dozen Truck Series races in 2020.
Obviously, this weekend, in excellent Toyota/Gibbs equipment, he finished 3rd and led 24 laps. Absolutely could have won. This was just flat-out bizarre.
We went 0-4 in matchups opposing Trevor Bayne in Xfinity. All the other Xfinity matchups went 4-0. Whoops.
Bayne plans to run six more Xfinity races this season. Since leaving the Cup Series, he has apparently been running a chain of coffee shops in Knoxville. Seriously.
For the weekend, we basically wanted to get short as possible against Bayne, Jeb Burton and the very overpriced Ty Gibbs in some matchups where we were getting plus money on guys like Gragson & Allmendinger. Those worked in Xfinity.
In Cup, we started with the thesis that the Chevys were being given too much credit on last year's speed, with pricing resembling last summer when Chevy couldn't lose. That this 670 hp car and Gen7 formnat was brand new and we should not assume Chevy is dominant again.
We hit Any Ford to Win at +325 and +335 early week, and added to it.
Plus, we shorted Harvick and Hamlin, and all those who could get the BetUS price benefitted from an odd matchup line where Cindric was getting substantial plus money on Wednesday over Chase Briscoe.
Went 5-4 in Cup matchups, 2-0 against Hamlin.
But the race finish we got looked a lot like last year's summer results. Hendrick Chevys fastest, only the Penske Fords truly competitive all day in that brand. Logano finished 5th, led 14 laps and was consistent all day.
And, the Toyotas were almost universally terrible. They can't probably be trusted until we hear NASCAR tell us they've made a change to keep those car from overheating at warm-weather tracks. What a mess.
Las Vegas is next week, BTW. All three series, Trucks on Friday, Xfinity on Saturday, Cup on Sunday.
The news was seeing some of the midpack Chevys show speed throughout the whole race. Tyler Reddick seemingly led all day before having a mechanical issue and getting hit by fellow fast Chevy Will Byron at Lap 152.
Erik Jones was Top 5 all day (finished 3rd), and the closing laps featured a turn in the lead for Daniel Suarez (4th) and a second for Austin Dillon who hadn't been seen all day.
Does any of that mean anything? Wrecks and boiling Toyotas aside, it means that a lot of cars who were +3000 or cheaper, some even out there around +10000, are truly competitive right now. Expect to see some price compression in those until the books figure out who's good.
Austin Dillon in second was as cheap as +8000 when he opened this week. Jones in third had been +25000, as had Suarez in 4th. This isn't Daytona, where random cars end up Top 5 all the time
Reddick should have won Sunday, and should have won the Exhibition at L.A. Coliseum before he had transaxle break. His best price early in the week was +2200. He will win soon.
I fear next week, on the 1.5 mile track style at Vegas that so favored Hendrick last year, Larson will open at +300 and Chevy at like -125. It may be justified.
But there is always value. It's hard, even with message services and texting to feed in-play bets to clients in a timely way.
But understand that when Larson sat outside the Top 10 a few times on Sunday, he got way cheaper. And that's when you add someone who's so expensive.
If a drive starts out at +400 or something, its hard for the book to move him much more expensive than that base price until the race is well beyond halfway. There were several opportunities to buy more Larson at 500, 600, 900.....best price I got in-race was at MGM, at 1200, nearly three hours into the race at 6:24 PM EST.
When Larson was on sale for +1200, Reddick was assumed to have already won and was priced at +175. The books do jump to conclusions.