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NASCAR Pennzoil 400 Picks, Preview

 

Mar. 3, 2021

NASCAR Expert
VegasInsider.com

Pennzoil 400 Best Bets

It’s only fitting that NASCAR’s fourth stop on the schedule is at the gambling capital of the world because the first three races have produced the highest odds total ever with three improbable winners.

It’s the first Las Vegas NASCAR weekend of 2021 with Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 and the most exciting news is that fans will be allowed to attend at 20% capacity after no fans were allowed in the fall Vegas race last season. Things are slowly getting back to normal living under a pandemic, but the winners from the first three races are anything but normal.

NASCAR Cup Betting Resources
Pennzoil 400 Picks

  • Date: Sunday, March 7, 2021
  • TV-Time: FOX, 3:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

2021 Filled with Long Shots!

The Daytona 500 was won by Michael McDowell at 65/1 odds and the Daytona road course race was won by Christopher Bell at a whopping 80/1 odds.

First-time NASCAR winners in the first two races for the first time since 1950.

And then last week at Homestead, William Byron led a race-high 102 laps won his second career Cup race and paid out at 25/1 odds.

Never ever have I seen anything like it and I’ve been creating NASCAR odds since Jeff Gordon was a rookie.

Last season we saw Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin combine to win 16 of the 36 races with a set-up edge they kept quiet about all season. They were the best with all three race packages. Everyone else was way behind, especially with the 550 horsepower package used on the larger tracks. Hamlin and Harvick won 11 of the 20 races using it. Neither of them has won yet.

I think the secret is out of the bag because there were some wild things happening at Homestead last week using the 550 HP package. New blood has been injected into the series from old teams that had struggled to keep up with Joe Gibbs and Stewart-Haas Racing teams.

Balanced Competition

The Ford camp has helped McDowell (6th last week) and Roush Fenway Racing be competitive again.

Roush’s Ryan Newman was seventh at Homestead and Chris Buescher led 57 laps, the second-most while winning the first stage and finished sixth in the second stage. Buescher looked like the best car in the first third of the race and then fell back to 19th-place after the sun went down.

Harvick was an ordinary fifth and Hamlin was 11th at Homestead and neither led a lap.

But it wasn’t just the Fords that found new speed.

It was Chevrolet as well with Hendrick Motorsports leading the way with three top-10 finishes and their best, last season's Cup Champion, Chase Elliott finishing 14th. They won two races with this week’s package last season and they’re already 1-for-1 with it in 2021.

Hendrick also produces for Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain as well as the JTG Daugherty drivers (Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 13th last week).

The ECR engines also worked well for Richard Childress Racing as Tyler Reddick was runner-up and the fastest driver on the track rim-riding in the final stages of the race when it became dark and Austin Dillon was 12th.

Even Daniel Suarez had a solid 15th-place finish using the ECR engines in his No. 99 Chevrolet co-owned by rapper Pitbull.

The bottom line is that we all have to change our betting strategies on these types of tracks with the 550 HP to include more candidates to win. 2020 is gone. There is parity now like I haven’t seen in ages. We can include up to 20 drivers with a legitimate chance to win this week instead of the usual crop of 10 or 12.


Martin Truex Jr. has been installed as one of the top contenders to win the Pennzoil 400 from Las Vegas on Sunday. (AP)

Handicapping NASCAR at Las Vegas

I’m chasing a betting strategy and willing to adapt on the fly and not rely so much on what happened last season.

The Homestead race showed me so much that I didn’t see last year and I’m relying on it heavily this week even though the two 1.5-mile layouts are vastly different.

I’m also looking deeper into what type of Goodyear tire is being used.

"Las Vegas is considered a low tire wear track, so our tread compounds are formulated to work on that type of surface," said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. "Last fall we changed the right-side tire at Las Vegas, Kansas, and Texas, aligning all three tracks. That move was made to give the cars more grip, and we saw some good results and had positive feedback from the teams so we decided to move forward with those same set-ups for this season."

NASCAR Cup Odds - Pennzoil 400

  • Martin Truex Jr. +600
  • Kevin Harvick +650
  • Brad Keselowski +650
  • Joey Logano +650
  • Denny Hamlin +900
  • Kyle Larson +1000
  • More NASCAR Futures
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

Hamlin led the most laps at Las Vegas (third) and Kansas (won) while Kurt Busch won at Las Vegas paying out at 28/1 odds, the longest shot to ever win in 26 Cup races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway which is notorious for having past champions or pre-race favorites to win. More on Busch later.

Hendrick Motorsports looked to have something different/better with all four of their cars having a chance to win and they should all be considered this week, especially the two with the longest odds beginning with Alex Bowman who William Hill sportsbooks have listed at 30/1 odds.

“Las Vegas is a track where we have had a lot of speed in the past and were in a position to go to victory lane in both events last season,” Bowman said. “Our 1.5-mile program is so strong at Hendrick Motorsports, and we have really dialed in our Chevrolet Camaros on these tracks. Coming off two top-10 finishes gives our Ally team a little bit of momentum, but we are hungry for more.”

Before Bowman’s ninth at Homestead, he had three straight top-fives on 1.5-mile tracks to close out 2020.

William Hill books have last week’s winner William Byron list at 18/1.

“Vegas has become really fun to race and a really good track for us on the No. 24 team,” Byron said. “It’s a challenge, though. You need to have a car that can be dynamic and change lanes around the track. The top of turns three and four is a really good place to run, especially if your car is a little loose. I think Vegas puts on a really good race with this aero package and it brings out the best. You can draft up on guys but still get clean air in the corners to make a pass on someone. Plus, the restarts are crazy. I really enjoy it.”

Chase Elliott is William Hill’s 5/1 favorite and Kyle Larson is 9/1.

But I made my biggest return on investment on a driver who uses a Hendrick Motorsports engine, last fall’s winner Kurt Busch who is 35/1 odds at William Hill. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has him 25/1.

I saw enough out of Busch last week at Homestead where he was a hard charger getting faster as the sun was going down. He was ninth in the first stage, third in the second stage, and finished eighth. But he had an unscheduled pit stop late because one of his lug nuts wasn’t tightened all the way.

I also love the idea of Busch winning again after finally getting his first-ever win on his home track in any series spanning over 22 years. His first home win and the home crowd wasn’t allowed to be there to support him. I think Busch is owed a party with his hometown fans after a win.

A Ford has won six of the last 10 races at LVMS, but I’m going Chevy strong this week.

Pennzoil 400 Contenders

Pennzoil 400
Top-5 Finish Prediction

1) #1 Kurt Busch (35/1)
2) #88 Alex Bowman (30/1)
3) #4 Kevin Harvick (6/1)
4) #24 William Byron (18/1)
5) #19 Martin Truex Jr. (15/2)

Odds Subject to Change - Per the SuperBook

NASCAR Cup Series
Weekly Predictions


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