June 20, 2021
NASCAR is back at Nashville Superspeedway for the first time since 2011 and for the first time ever, the Cup Series will make an appearance there in Sunday’s Ally 400.
NASCAR Ally 400 Analysis
All three major NASCAR Series will be in action over Fathers Day weekend with the winner of each race getting a sweet Gibson guitar trophy. There are 14 active Cup drivers who have raced on the 1.33-mile D-shaped concrete oval in the Xfinity and Truck Series and only five active drivers have ever won with Kyle Busch leading the way with three wins. Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski each have two and Austin Dillon and Joey Logano each have one win.
Carl Edwards got his nickname “concrete Carl” by winning five Xfinity Series races at Nashville. By the way, I still have no idea why Edwards suddenly quit NASCAR a few years ago.
Another thing I don’t understand is why they call this a superspeedway. If Nashville is a superspeedway, then Talladega has to be a Super-Duperspeedway, right?
Anyway, there are lots of unknowns with the Nashville layout that has 14 degrees of banking in the turns. When I did my ratings for the week I started with the fact that they are running the 750 horsepower low downforce race package and with no data on the track itself, I used Dover’s 1-mile high-banked concrete layout and Kansas Speedway as a comparison (even though Kansas used the 550 HP package). And then infused an upgrade for all Hendrick Motorsports drivers who have won the last five races including the non-points All-Star Race last week.
It was the four Hendrick drivers that came out 1-2-3-4 in my ratings followed by Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick.
So it came as much of a surprise when I saw sportsbooks like the SuperBook and William Hill offer William Byron at 13-to-1 odds to win and Alex Bowman at 14-to-1. They have Truex, Hamlin, Busch, and Harvick all ahead of the hottest team on the planet right now. Hamlin and Harvick have no wins this season, Bowman has two wins with the 750 HP package and one of those wins was a Dover win in a race in which Hendrick drivers finished 1-2-3-4 and led 382 of the 400 laps.
Ally 400 Betting Resources
Ally 400 Contenders
Handicapping NASCAR at Nashville
William Byron finished fourth at Dover after leading 21 laps and talked about how he's going to approach a new track with little experience on it.
“You’re not going to have a good feel in general going into this weekend, I think,” said Byron who is tied for the series lead with 12 top-10s. “Nashville (Superspeedway) is going to be one of those places that you just need to adapt and learn as you go. It looks like a superspeedway but it’s more of a short track with how tight the corners are. It’s going to be tough, especially with the heat. I think that this race is going to be one of the toughest places we will go this season just because we don’t have any notes on it. No one has any notes from any series, really.
“Things have changed so much since the last race there. I’m going to rely heavily on the truck race and watching the Xfinity race. I’ll use that info to hopefully learn and be able to adapt faster in our race. It’s going to be challenge but it’s good to have a new environment and the excitement around it.”
Byron is a must-play this week for anyone betting the race. He has to be part of your wagering portfolio this week as well as Bowman. They both have huge value by being undervalued by the books, most of whom use robot bookmakers. Bowman brought up the Dover angle earlier this week.
“I have tested at Nashville Superspeedway before but haven’t actually raced there,” Bowman said. “It is going to be interesting learning the track with the No. 48 Chevrolet in practice on Saturday. Our last race we ran on concrete (Dover) we were able to claim the victory, so we are hoping for the same result on Sunday in our No. 48 Ally Chevy.”
Because Nashville is a new track, the teams will get to practice Saturday and have a qualifying session on Sunday morning before the race.
In the old days just two years ago, I used to bet most of my driver matchups after practice and take advantage of books over adjusting to practices, and before that two decades ago, I used to bet driver matchups with prices that didn’t move at all after practices.
Now in 2021, post COVID-19, I feel pretty good about how the solid teams bring their cars ready to roll off the hauler with a winning set-up made at the team headquarters. I don’t really care about practice anymore and I’ve already bet, but I will pay attention to the 10-consecutive lap averages and hope it forces a bet on someone like Tyler Reddick at 40-to-1 or Austin Dillon at 80-to-1.
This will be the 17th points-paying race of the season and the 10th race using the 750 HP package. Truex won three of the first six using the package and Hendrick drivers have won four overall, including the last three.
Again, Bowman has two wins using this week’s race package including a win on a concrete track, but sure, Harvick should be favored over him. Harvick doesn’t even have a top-five finish using the 750 HP package. Robot bookmaker must be on tilt with its date set on 2020 when Harvick won a series-high nine races. Whatever, just bet it and be happy the books are offering a deal.
William Byron has seen a Top 10 result in 12 of his last 14 races, but outside the Top 10 in 2 of his last 3 races. (AP)
Larson A Heavy Favorite
As for Larson, he deserves to be a heavy favorite. Second or better in five straight races. He’s going for his third straight win. He led a race-high 263 laps at Dover last month settling for runner-up. After his All-Star win Sunday night he hit the road for a Monday night sprint race and won. He raced Tuesday night as well and finally lost. This dude loves any kind of racing. He also has a 2019 win on the concrete Dover layout and has led 880 laps in 13 career Cup starts.
Chase Elliott has eight top-fives in 11 Dover starts, including a 2018 win. He’ll be in the hunt for another Hendrick win. All the Hendrick drivers will be in the hunt for the win just like at Dover on May 16.
Wagering Non-Hendrick Drivers
My favorite non-Hendrick bet this week is Joey Logano who the SuperBook has listed at 16-to-1 odds to win. All this guy does is get top-fives finishes in the 750 HP package with his lone win of 2021 coming at the Bristol Dirt Race. But they have speed every week with this package. Seven top-fives, including the last three using this week’s package. He gets upfront every race using it. He also has a Nashville win to his credit in a 2009 Xfinity Series race.
Logano’s Penske teammate Brad Keselowski (16/1) is also worth a look, but not Ryan Blaney at 20-to-1. This three-team operation Roger Penske has doesn't seem to like each other or share information. Blaney has been junk in the 750 HP package but has an Atlanta win in the 550 HP package while Logano’s 550 package has been a jalopy.
A quick breakdown of two operations in the Cup Series:
Best of luck to all, and I’m really glad to see Nashville back in the mix. This track goes on my things-to-do list for 2022 just because I like to honky-tonk.