The Action Network: Three Futures Bets for Sunday's Food City Showdown

PJ Walsh
NASCAR.com

The Action Network specializes in providing sports betting insights/analytics and is a content partner with NASCAR. Check out more NASCAR betting analysis here.

As I mentioned when detailing what I’ve learned through two weeks of the NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, despite being an avid NASCAR fan for almost 20 years, I’m very new to iRacing.

However, I enjoyed the virtual races at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, and with NASCAR iRacing odds now available at DraftKings Sportsbook, I decided to try my hand at betting Sunday’s Food City Showdown at Bristol Motor Speedway.

To zero in on my bets, I used data from the first two races and will hopefully get better as the sample of statistics, and my knowledge of the sport, continue to grow.

Because I’m so new to iRacing, my strategy was to initially target drivers further down the odds board since I still have so many questions, like how different will Bristol be than the first two races at Homestead and Texas?

In traditional NASCAR, there isn’t much correlation between performance at 1.5-mile tracks, like Homestead and Texas, and Bristol, a .533-mile concrete short track.

Are the differences as drastic in virtual racing?

And what about traditional NASCAR racing at Bristol compared to virtual racing? Is there any correlation at all? Kyle Busch has eight career NASCAR Cup Series wins at Bristol, including three of the last five races. But does that mean he’ll also be strong racing virtually in Thunder Valley?

With all of this in mind, here are my bets for the NASCAR iRacing Food City Showdown at Bristol.

Odds as of Sunday at 7:50 a.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

NASCAR iRacing at Bristol Betting Picks

William Byron (+400)

Despite an average finish of just 20.5, Byron has led nearly 47% of all laps through the first two NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series races.

It’s not all that comforting to be leveraging a two-race sample of data to bet a short favorite because one dominant performance can severely skew stats, especially a metric like laps led.

Also, is a half-mile short track like Bristol as different from 1.5-mile circuits — like Homestead and Texas — in virtual racing as it is in traditional NASCAR? Frankly, I don’t know that answer.

However, the bottom line from a betting standpoint is that based on the data we do have, I do think Byron’s true chances of winning today’s Food City Showdown are better than the 20% implied probability that odds of +400 imply.

Denny Hamlin (+1000)

Hamlin is a seasoned sim racer and displayed his skill by winning the season-opening event at Homestead. However, Hamlin admitted that he did not put in the preparation he needed to last week at Texas, and that showed as Denny was never a true contender en route to a 24th-place finish.

I have a feeling that we’re going to eventually learn that weekly preparation will be more important than any stat or data point we use when handicapping traditional NASCAR, especially since participants can jump on iRacing at anytime and run laps, which is vastly different than on-track racing.

At 10-1, I believe we’re getting a market discount due to last week’s result for a driver who should be listed among the top tier of favorites.

Kyle Busch (+4000)

As I mentioned above, Busch dominates Bristol in traditional racing, but that doesn’t have any influence on why I’m betting him now. Busch is new to iRacing, but is incredibly competitive and has been working hard to improve.

Earlier this week, Dale Earnhardt Jr. pointed to Busch as the most improved driver from the season-opening race at Homestead to last week’s event at Texas.

I have no doubt Busch is working harder than anyone to get better, so I’m okay taking a flier on him at 40-1 in the event that he is fast enough to hang around the top 10 and some of the favorites struggle or find trouble throughout the race.

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