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In 2020, Chase Elliott qualified for the Championship 4 for the first time in his five-year career. Until then he was having (statistically at least) what has become a standard season for the Dawsonville, Ga. native with a few wins, mostly on road courses.
In 2018 he scored his first win at Watkins Glen International, followed eight weeks later by another at Dover International Speedway. Two weeks later, he had one more at Kansas Speedway. The last two wins were important because they came during the playoffs. Elliott failed to make the Champ 4, however, and finished sixth in the points.
In 2019 he drew the winning pill for the first Talladega Superspeedway lottery in April. His next two wins came on the road courses of Watkins Glen and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. He finished 10th in the points after an incredibly poor showing of three 30-something results in the Round of 8.
But Elliott came out of the gates strong last year. He was in contention for the win several times before his scored his first of 2020 at Charlotte. He had a car capable of sweeping Darlington Raceway with a fourth-place finish in the first race and a certain win that was denied when he was crashed by Kyle Busch in the second event. The next week, he was second in the Coke 600 before winning the midweek show. And at Bristol Motor Speedway in the following event, he was once more battling for the win until he and Joey Logano got together and ruined both of their afternoons.
The bottom line is that he should have had several more wins than he actually earned. As it turned out, that made him a bad value for bettors. Because he kept narrowly missing the top spot, oddsmakers gave him consistently low numbers. From the COVID-19 break until the Round of 16 began, he was listed at +1000 only four times – and one of these was at Daytona where everyone is that high.
In terms of unrestricted tracks, his longest odds came at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (+1000), Michigan International Speedway (+1200 in Race 2), and during the playoffs at Richmond Raceway (+1000). He finished no worse than 11th in those races.
ELLIOTT’S BIGGEST 2020 PAYDAY: (Xfinity 500, +800)
For the year his odds were about +780. Only one of his wins came when he was above that mark and an 8/1 return at Martinsville Speedway in the penultimate race was not enough to put him in the black overall. Including his victory in the Season Finale 500k that came with the championship, he lost $99 on a weekly hypothetical $10 bet.
Oddsmakers will probably be conservative in regard to Elliott in 2021. He started the season co-favored at PointsBet Sportsbook for odds to win the championship with a +550. Frankly: His playoff record in the past does not warrant so much confidence.
He’s been good, but was not great at Phoenix Raceway before last fall. His three-year average finish of 14.5 in the last six starts ranks this track 15th among 24 on which he’s run more than a single race. He has been quite a bit better on two other short, flat tracks of Martinsville and Richmond, however, and that gives his fans a little hope.
Elliott is just now coming into his own. The 2021 season will reveal if he is able to make the next step to superstardom and deservedly be ranked among perennial contenders. But for now, there are only six tracks on which he has a better-than-10th-place average finish. Rest assured, oddsmakers are fully aware of which courses those are.
For example: You will not find favorable odds on any road course this year, which is where Elliott is most likely to succeed.
His two best courses in last three years are the Glen (1.0 in two starts) and the Charlotte Roval (2.67 in three); that is supplemented by a win on the Daytona Road Course.
In terms of unrestricted tracks, he has a 4.5 in four starts at Charlotte, which is followed by a strong record at Kansas (6.17 in six), Richmond (7.8 in five), and Homestead-Miami Speedway (8.0 in three). His Martinsville average is also impressive at 10.0 in six, but there are seven drivers who have been more consistently strong there.
The best bet for Elliott is to watch him for several weeks at the start of the year, but place only modest wagers. With the Daytona road course taking the place of Auto Club Speedway for 2021, he has a chance to win early and take some pressure off the team. Between then and the next road course in Austin, Texas, Elliott has several unrestricted opportunities to win as well.
Until he balances his oval and road course success, however, it is going to be difficult to find the right betting strategy for the newly crowned champion.
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