After visiting two flatter 2.5-mile tracks in Pocono Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series is back at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.
Kentucky is smooth and produces very little tire wear, meaning its closest comps among tracks already visited by Cup cars this season are Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In order to pinpoint my bets for Sunday’s Quaker State 400, I looked at results from those three races (two at Charlotte and one at Vegas) earlier this year.
In the name of transparency, I took Alex Bowman at 40-1 very early this week, a number that is no longer available, and do not advise playing him at anything shorter than 25-1 at this point.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@PJWalsh24) for any additional bets I make for Sunday’s race.
NASCAR at Kentucky Odds, Betting Picks
Denny Hamlin (+700)
Generally, I find momentum to be overrated in this sport, but when two cars are so much faster than the field, like Kevin Harvick and Hamlin are right now, it’s tough to ignore their speed, especially during the current rules in which teams don’t have the luxury of practice to work on new setups and dial in their cars.
I frankly can’t argue against anyone taking Harvick or Kyle Busch this week, but I’m opting to back Hamlin at the better price of the three contenders.
Ryan Blaney (+1200)
Another race, another bet on Blaney since I just can’t ignore his stats at similar tracks this season.
The No. 12 Team Penske Ford tied for the second-best average finish and had the third-best driver rating over the three races at Las Vegas and Charlotte earlier this season.
But it’s Blaney’s performance at Vegas in February which really makes him a good play because the tire combination teams will use at Kentucky on Sunday is the same that was run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In that event, Blaney was leading when a caution came out with just five laps to go. Todd Gordon, crew chief for the No. 12 team, called his driver to pit road, essentially ending their chances to win the race when seven cars stayed on track for the final sprint to the checkered flag.
Blaney has been fast at this track type and on this specific tire combination, so I’m willing to back him (again) at 12-1 odds.