Underdogs have been the story of the NASCAR betting season so far

Nick Bromberg
·2 min read

It has not been a season to bet favorites in NASCAR. So far, anyway.

William Byron became the third different winner in the first three races of the 2021 Cup Series season when he took the checkered flag at Homestead on Sunday. And while he entered Sunday's race with the best odds of any of the three winners so far, Byron was still a relative underdog ahead of the race.

Byron's odds were +2500 to win at BetMGM. That means you could have made $2,500 had you bet $100 on Byron to get his second career win.

No one at BetMGM wagered that kind of money on Byron, however. Fewer than one percent of the tickets and the total money wagered on the race at the sportsbook were on Byron to win. And the largest bet was a $25 wager.

That bet still turned a nice profit, however. That ticket was worth $625.

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William Byron does doughnuts as he celebrates after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
William Byron does doughnuts as he celebrates after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

You'd have a profit if you bet every driver in every race

Betting every driver ahead of a NASCAR race is not typically an advisable strategy. Race favorites typically have odds lower than +1000 or lower. That means your return isn't enough to cover your losses if a favorite heads to victory lane.

But thanks to wins by Michael McDowell (+6600) in the Daytona 500 and Christopher Bell (+5000) at the Daytona road course in addition to Byron's victory on Sunday, it would have been a profitable strategy so far this season.

How? If you'd have bet $10 on all 40 drivers in each of the first two races and $10 on each of the 38 drivers at Homestead you'd have bet a total of $1,180. McDowell's win would have netted you $660, Bell's win would have netted you $500 and Byron's win would have earned you $250. That's a profit of $390, though Byron's win would have ultimately lost you $120.

And that loss on Sunday is why betting most drivers in the field is not a winning strategy long term. While Byron netted the few people that bet on him a nice return on Sunday, it's only a matter of time before drivers with much worse odds start to win on a regular basis. If you're going to jump into the NASCAR betting fray, keep in mind that what's happened so far in 2021 is not the norm.

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