Everybody loves a dark horse. When they hit, they cover a lot of losses, but too often bettors have to wait out a lot of losses to get one of the longshots to hit.
The beginning of the season saw several drivers in the high-teens to low 20s/1 grace Victory Lane. While that may have emboldened many gamblers, it also provided a slush fund that could be used in subsequent races to roll the dice on yet another dark horse.
If you’re going to place a unit or two on drivers above the 20/1 mark, it also makes sense to hedge those bets with additional ones for top-three or -10 finishes. This week 33 drivers have odds greater than 20/1. All of them have plus odds for top-three finishes, and once one gets above the 30/1 mark, the top-10 odds are drug to a positive place.
It is so tempting to place a little money on Michael McDowell (+9000). With a $90 return on a $1 bet, it’s not exactly like hitting the lottery, but it is extremely sweet for bettors.
McDowell has always been solid on road courses. He cut his teeth in The Trans Am Series and carried that skill over to the Cup series. His long outright odds drag those for a top-three to +1800, which is also tempting. The bet that you really want to make is for a top-10, however. He’s listed at +250 and four of his last six road course races ended 12th or better.
McDowell won an Xfinity race on this track in 2016.
After a strong showing at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) earlier this year, Austin Cindric (+5000) is another extremely tempting bet. Not only is he in strong equipment, but he probably has more laps around Road America than any driver in the field. He won last year’s Xfinity race and had to hold off AJ Allmendinger in the process, who we have listed as a Best Bet to finish in the top 10.
Cindric will get some additional track time in Xfinity race, where he is listed at +290 for the outright win. His outright odds drag those for a top-three to +1000 and a top-10 to +140.
With the recent news that Trackhouse Racing purchased Chip Ganassi Racing, Ross Chastain (+7000) is competing for his career. He was given an opportunity to showcase his talent in the best equipment he’s ever raced when Ganassi needed a replacement for Kyle Larson and he’s made the most of it in recent weeks. From Atlanta Motor Speedway through Nashville Superspeedway, he earned 10 results of 17th or better in 12 races; three of these were top-10s – and two of those were on road courses. One of his strong runs almost ended in Victory Lane. Pocono tried to derail him with consecutive results outside the top 25, but we’re betting he rebounds.
Chastain is a great value at +210 for a top-10 finish.
Daniel Suarez (+12500) will also be buoyed by the Trackhouse announcement. His odds are much longer because he does not have those road course top-10s, but he has momentum on his side. He came close to cracking the single-digit barrier at Sonoma Raceway with a 12th-place finish that is part of a current five-race streak of top-15s.
At +290 for a top-10, Suarez is not a must-have, but if you found enough money in the couch cushions, he’s worthy of the wager.
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