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Last Updated Jun 27, 2022, 12:37 AM

Ally 400 Picks, Predictions, Odds

The NASCAR Cup Series had last week off and I missed them on Father’s day almost the same as I miss the sport by Christmas each offseason. The way I see it, they owe me. 

They need to give me a unique one of a kind race track this week with the promise that another new driver could win the race, and the possibility that a few long shots have a legitimate chance to win.

I think NASCAR checked all the boxes and made it up to me. We get a full weekend of racing with practice, qualifying, and a late afternoon green flag on Sunday and it comes at Nashville Superspeedway’s 1.333-mile concrete layout with 14 degrees of banking in the turns. There’s nothing like it. Payback complete.

ALLY 400 PICKS & PREDICTIONS

We’ve had 12 different winners in the first 16 races with four of those winners being first time Cup winners and four other drivers with two wins each. Meanwhile, we have former Cup champions such as Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr, and Brad Keselowski with no wins.

Those type of numbers have made it tough to bet weekly, but also offers opportunities to bet longer shot drivers. Kyle Larson isn’t winning every week, but we’ve had Ross Chastain, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Daniel Suarez, and Kurt Busch all payout at 25-to-1 odds or higher with wins so far. I’ve bet a couple of those and it’s kept me ahead for the season, but the pool of candidates to win because of the new NextGen car has made it definitely interesting.

Larson won the inaugural Cup race at Nashville last season leading 264 of the 300 laps as the favorite and because of it he’s again listed as the 9-to-2 favorite at Caesars sportsbooks. Just about every week Larson is the favorite and just about every week he doesn’t win.

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I think Larson is the perfect driver to dissect the differences between 2021 NASCAR and 2022 with the new car. He had 10 wins last season and won the title. He won three times on road courses, his first road course wins of his career. Every week it was a brilliant set-up with tricks and an edge they didn’t share with the rest of the series. They did it all season long with limited errors or mistakes by the crew or driver. It was a perfect season.

But the new car took away all the edge Larson had except we didn’t know it right away as he won the second race of the season at Fontana. It looked like the same old Larson doing his thing again. But no tricks or creative engineering on the new car. New Goodyear tires added to his problems as the 18-inch low-profile model is a question mark after 20 to 25 laps. And then the new single lug nut has given crews problems as well. Mix in a few pit road penalties and put it altogether and you get Larson’s 2022 with no wins since Fontana.

But Caesars says he’s the 9-to-2 favorite and he dominated last season so I guess I have to look elsewhere again and I think I have a few drivers that will run well. I’m taking two of the single-digit favorites and mixing in four others with double-digit odds, one at 40-to-1 I like and another at 50-to-1 odds.

ALLY 400 BETTING RESOURCES

  • Date: Sunday, June 26, 2022
  • Venue: Nashville Superspeedway
  • Location: Gladeville, Tennessee
  • Distance: 400 miles
  • Laps: 300
  • Network-Time: NBC - 5:00 p.m. ET

The Nashville layout is unique to itself with it’s size and dimensions, but the concrete adds another element and a few drivers always seem to do well on concrete at Bristol and Dover. And one of them is the second-choice to win who had multiple wins between three racing series at Nashville before they shut down all NASCAR racing in 2011. Kyle Busch came back like nothing changed last season and won the Xfinity Series race.

“I think it’s a cool racetrack and a cool venue,” Busch said. “I raced there a lot over the years in the ARCA Series, the Camping World Truck Series, as well as the Xfinity Series. I’ve had my fair share of races there and also my fair share of wins there. I was able to win the Xfinity Series race there last year, but we struggled a bit with our Cup car there. It’s a whole new ballgame with the new car there this year to see what is going to make our car fast. I think racing in Nashville fits with our sport because NASCAR and country music are kind of synonymous with each other. It’s a great opportunity to race there and we’ll do our best to get our PEDIGREE Camry to victory lane.”

With Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson gone, Kyle Busch is the Concrete King. He has eight wins at Bristol and three wins at Dover and that’s just in the Cup Series. He also has two wins at Nashville in the Truck Series and two wins in Xfinity, and grabbed his first win there in ARCA in 2003. In the inaugural Nashville Cup race, he led three times for 10 laps and finished 11th. At Dover’s concrete layout this season he led a race-high 108 laps before finishing seventh. He leads the series with 11 top-10s this season, the most consistent car among the new NextGen cars that have caused havoc for every garage this season. 

But still, his only win this season came on the Bristol dirt. But consistency is important to me. Leading laps is very important to me. Caesars has him 7-to-1, and I’d like better odds, but I’m okay with it for now.

ALLY 400 BETTING ANALYSIS

I’m really liking half of the JGR garage this week and next to Busch is his teammate Christopher Bell who sits 15th in points, has three poles, four top-fives, and nine top-10s. He’s having a nice season but needs a win. This might be it and I’m a sucker for 18-to-1 odds. He was ninth at Nashville last season and this season he was fourth at Dover. 

“Nashville is a super fun track and a place we had a good run at last year,” Bell said. “The NextGen car has been really good for us on bigger tracks and I expect Nashville to be another good race track for us.” 

That’s it. The NextGen car has been figured out by half the JGR drivers and their teams while the other half with Truex and Denny Hamlin have struggled even though Hamlin has two wins. 

“It’s a fun track,” Truex said. “We didn’t run like we wanted to by any means last year. It was just an all-around struggle from start to finish, but we’re looking forward to going back and trying to put together a good weekend. I feel like it’s a place that we can have success at. It’s just a matter of unloading close and fine-tuning during that practice on Friday to be ready for qualifying and the race.”

The weekend Cup schedule looks like I remember from pre-pandemic days with a 50-minute practice session on Friday night and Qualifying on Saturday morning. The practice session times will be important and force me to adjust my pre-practice plan. My betting portfolio with odds to win and driver match-ups will be loaded. I'm still skeptical of the new car with driver matchups, but I’ll have a few and I’ll be looking to bet against Truex and Hamlin. They both seem behind the curve with the new car. Hamlin has only three top-10s all season and two of them are wins. 

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“Nashville is a great market for our sport,” Hamlin said. “The support last year was unbelievable when you think about the fans in the stands and how packed the infield was. They did an incredible job updating the facility from not having a race for 10 years to being just an all-around great weekend for the sport.”

That’s his quote this week. Nothing about his car or team, or consistent errors they’ve been making all season. It’s a nice quote about the track which doesn’t give me much confidence in betting him. Sure Caesars, he’s 10-to-1 to win.

With Truex, the guy is doing the retirement talk and I don’t like it. Sets an overall negative tone and the team has followed suit with no wins. Caesars has him 12-to-1 because I suppose they’ve seen something different in Truex who finished 12th at Dover. No one is betting Truex at 12-to-1, but throw 30-to-1 up there and I and others would surely take him despite us all knowing he’s not going to win. Everyone knows Xfinity driver Ty Gibbs needs a Cup ride for 2023 and there are only four JGR Toyotas. Someone has to go and I think Truex knows it’s him. 

ALLY 400 CONTENDERS

Chase Elliott had his 13th-place Nashville finish last season disqualified because of five loose lug nuts in the post-race inspection. He found his way to the front and led 13 laps. I’m starting to believe he’s a concrete guy. His win at Dover kind of helped sway my opinion and I’m expecting him to do very well on Sunday. He’ll be a feature player in my driver match-ups and I’m searching for better than the 8-to-1 odds to win offered by Caesars.

I’m also excited about Ross Chastain, but hate his 7-to-1 odds being offered. I think he’s a concrete guy. His seven top-fives are the most in the series. His two wins are tied for the most as he sits atop the standings. This is a good track for him as well as he finished runner-up last season driving the No. 42. He also finished third on Dover’s concrete in May after leading 86 laps. I have to find an angle with him in wagering options. He’s a badass and knows it.

My longshot drivers have my full confidence this week and I appreciate Caesars offering odds as if they used last year's Nashville race as their only source. But wait, Aric Almirola won the pole and finished fourth last year at Nashville and is being offered at 40-to-1 odds to win.   

“Yeah I’m excited to get back to Nashville,” Almirola said. “Last year, Nashville was a big turning point for us. We went to a track that was new in the Cup Series for everyone and ended up getting the pole and a top-five. That gave us so much momentum because it was a terrible season up to that point. I have always felt good at Nashville. We’ve already shown what we can do at a new track in this NextGen car this year at St. Louis. This team is resilient and works their tails off to get the car where it needs to be when we show up at a new venue. On top of that, we’re going to get a full day of practice and qualifying, so we’ll have even more time to adjust.”

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Compare Almirola’s quote with Hamlin’s and you can see what I’m talking about. The performance (5th) on the flat St. Louis track opened my eyes. This team has something cooking with the NextGen car. Last season after a strong run at Nashville they went on to win a month later at the flat New Hampshire layout. Building blocks at 40-to-1. Yes, I’ll take some, thank you. If he wins, he’ll show the most profit among all the drivers I’ve bet.

My next concrete guy is Ricky Stenhouse Jr at 50-to-1 odds. I bet him four times a season in superspeedway races and have just two wins to show for it and that was back in 2017. Those wins at Daytona and Talladega are his only two Cup wins, yet I always find myself believing some crazy stuff can happen with him and he can win, and those plans are always with Bristol and Dover concrete layouts. I think my 2017 funds from his winning are gone as I always manage to talk myself into a bet on him. It’s crazy. Am I a Stenhouse fan? I usually think logically, but I’ve seen something in him this season that leads me to believe he has a car that win in 2022 and this is it. 

He was runner-up last month at Dover’s concrete for his best finish of the season. Some guys are just good on concrete. Stenhouse is one of those guys. He was sixth at Nashville last season in a much crummier car. We don’t get many shots a season to bet a guy at 50-to-1 to win a race that can actually win. This is it. This is your gasoline fund. Take the money reserved for one gallon of gas and invest it in Stenhouse to win.

I’m looking for Alex Bowman (18/1) to run well and also Chris Buescher (75/1) who was eighth at Dover and comes off a runner-up at Sonoma.

Last note, but not least, Speedway Motorsports Inc. founder and former CEO Bruton Smith passed away on Wednesday (1927-2022) and his impact on the growth of NASCAR can never be understated. SMI bought Nashville Superspeedway and brought it back to the NASCAR schedule last season. He also bought Las Vegas Motor Speedway and brought NASCAR there in 1998. Thank you, and Rest In Peace.    

ALLY 400 TOP-5 FINISH PREDICTION

  1. #18 Kyle Busch (7/1)
  2. #9 Chase Elliott (8/1)
  3. #20 Christopher Bell (18/1)
  4. #10 Aric Almirola (40/1)
  5. #47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (50/1)

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