NASCAR | Toyota 500 | Picks and Prediction
By Jason Paglia
It’s been months since the COVID-19 virus swept across the world and caused a global pandemic. For serious sports bettors, it’s been a trying time. We went from being able to make a living, to instantly on the unemployment line in a matter of one week. The UFC was the first major sport in this country that made the decision to open back up for business. Everything went off without a hitch, and the wheels began turning for other leagues and organizations.
Have no fear, NASCAR is here. NASCAR has decided it’s time to go back to work. However, they are still taking social distancing guidelines seriously. On Sunday, NASCAR had it’s first Cup race since the pandemic. Everything went well, but there were no fans in the stands. There was also no pre-race qualifying or any type of practice sessions at all. That makes it extremely hard to handicap the races. They have decided to have multiple races at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. After this week, they will decide exactly where they are going next.
Tonight will be the 3rd race at Darlington Raceway since Sunday. They had the first NASCAR Cup race Sunday. Last night the Xfinity Series took center stage at Darlington, and tonight the Cup series will race another 500 miles. On Sunday Kevin Harvick had the best car on the track by a country mile. He led the majority of the laps, and in the end, he beat the field by seconds, literally.
You would think that he has tonight’s race in the bag, right? Not exactly. Track conditions are a huge determining factor in who wins the race. A racecar handles very differently depending on the temperature of a track. Sunday’s race was during the day, but tonight’s race will happen at night. That seems irrelevant, but it’s a game-changer.
If you watched The Sports Keg YouTube Channel on Sunday, you cashed a Kevin Harvick ticket at (+650). I think he will win the Cup Championship this year, and I knew his track record at Darlington had been rock solid. The odds have changed for tonight’s race. Harvick is now (+500) to win tonight, and that’s a little too short for me.
KYLE BUSCH (+650) – Kyle is my favorite driver and the best driver in the sport in my opinion. He is primed to win any race he is in. He almost always has the car to win because Joe Gibbs Racing might put the best cars on the track on most weeks. Busch started at the back of the field on Sunday due to inspection failure. He worked his way through the pack but had an issue late and finished 26th. He is fully capable of winning tonight.
ALEX BOWMAN (+800) – Alex Bowman was the 2nd best car on the track for 400 miles on Sunday. He just couldn’t get past Harvick. That could change tonight. If his car handles better at night, and the track conditions causes Harvick’s car to slightly regress, Bowman can win this race. Chevy has been outperformed by Toyota and Ford for the last few years, but this year they have looked much better. Can he get it done? It’s possible.
KURT BUSCH (+1400) – Kurt is a very underrated driver. He is a former Cup champion that gets ignored because his brother is a phenom. Sunday was the 2nd time in four years that Kurt finished 3rd at Darlington. That is impressive. He has been close for the last few years, is it unthinkable that he can finally breakthrough tonight? Not a chance.
PENSKE FORDS – Brad Keselowski (+900), Joey Logano (+1100) and Ryan Blaney (+2500) are dangerous wherever they are. Keselowski has had more success at Darlington lately, but Joey Logano was last years Cup Champion. Ryan Blaney is the 3rd best driver at Penske, and he is one of the best young drivers in the sport.
JOE GIBBS RACING – Denny Hamlin (+800), Martin Truex Jr.(+800) and Kyle Busch (+650) are three of the top eight drivers in the sport. Any one of these guys can win tonight. Truex had a car that continued to improve on Sunday. Kyle Busch went from last to 3rd at one point before running into trouble, and Denny Hamlin has won twice at Darlington in the past decade.
WHO WINS THIS RACE?
I will be live betting all races until they get back to normal. I need qualifying time, practice times, and consecutive lap averages. Weekend specific data is essential when capping NASCAR. We have none of that tonight. All we can go on is Sunday’s race, and performances at Darlington in years past. The issue is the track conditions will be different tonight.
I would say live betting is 60% of my NASCAR betting, even when they have a normal race week. Now, it’s 99%. If I were you, I would wait until the race is past the halfway point tonight. By that time, the true contenders will reveal themselves, barring a crash. That will be my entry point. I’ll be live with the guys from The Sports Keg live betting the race on our YouTube channel. I would check in at some point tonight. However, if you had to nail me down on a prerace pick….. I am takin a shot with the young kid in the 88 Chevy tonight.
Alex Bowman had the best car in the race aside from Harvick. He was reliable all day Sunday. If his car is slightly better tonight, he puts himself in a fantastic spot to steal this race. Clean air meant a lot on Sunday. The leader pulled away from the field no matter who it was. Who was the best car all day in dirty air? Alex Bowman. Let’s see if the kid can get it done.
ALEX BOWMAN (+800)