The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum

The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum

After a few months off, it would be fun to dive back into the NASCAR betting waters headfirst. We’ve been starved for action since Phoenix, and with the NFL on hiatus for a week, we need something to fill the void.

Unfortunately, now is not the time to do so.

Sunday night’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum is only the second time the Cup Series has held this stadium course. It’s a super unique setup, which means that in addition to a lack of track history, there aren’t many tracks that we can rely on as comps.

Volatility can be a good thing because it means bookmakers also work with minimal information. But with a full program of 36 races to come later, I’m going to take it easy this week.

The way I bet on The Clash is to have a few no-shorts with drivers that I believe are undervalued, putting way less than my typical bet size on the line. That way I can still have some entertainment value while capitalizing on a sport where I think I have an edge without extending too much into the unknown.

Unfortunately, two main contenders to target here – Ryan Blaney and Chase Briscoe – saw their odds cut after they opened in FanDuel Sportsbook betting odds for The Clash. Blaney shortened to +1000 from +1200, and Briscoe dropped to +2500 from +5000. I no longer show value on Briscoe at this figure, and the value on Blaney is slim enough that I no longer take it. If you can find these guys somewhere near where they opened, I’m all for it.

So that naturally narrows our list down a bit. But there are still two drivers who tick the boxes above and have longer betting odds than I think.

Let’s see who these drivers are and why I’m OK with betting on them despite the unknowns surrounding the event.

William Byron will win (+1500)

William Byron started 2022 hot before sputtering a bit during the summer months. I’m willing to chalk it up to variance and buy Byron as he enters his 25-year-old season.

The only type of track where Byron didn’t really break down was on short, flat tracks. His overall average race position in those 7 races – 8.7 – was an all-round position better than he had on any other type of track. He won at Martinsville, had a great run at the first race at Richmond and rallied for strong finishes at the last two races of the year at Martinsville and Phoenix.

In last year’s Clash, Byron was slow in training but qualified well, raced well in his heat and finished sixth. I don’t care much about it given the small sample size, but it at least showed something there.

My model puts Byron’s win odds at 7.3%, versus the implied 6.3%. Unless you still can get Blaney at +1200, I bet Byron is the only driver with short odds showing value.

Ty Gibbs will win (+7500)

As always, longshots are longshots for a reason. It’s a steep learning curve going from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and that’s why Ty Gibbs is +7500.

But I think that’s too long, largely because of supposed differences between how I model Gibbs and how sports betting does.

Based on that number for Gibbs and the Daytona 500 odds for Noah Gragson, I think the books use last year’s Cup performance as a benchmark for those two drivers. Both ran nearly half the races, and neither ran very well in that time.

I think that’s a mistake, personally. The two drivers were vying for the Xfinity Series championship in a very different car. This is where most of their attention was focused. Gragson said he didn’t drive hard in the Cup so he wouldn’t miss Xfinity races due to injury.

For Gibbs, he was thrust into the 23XI ride on hours notice after Kurt Busch’s concussion. He then had to catch that car while competing for a championship in a different series.

So for Gibbs and Gragson, rather than using their 2022 Cup Series data, I’m using their Xfinity Series data and using my typical fit from series to series. When I do that and put Gibbs on the top team in the garage, it’s hard to get him out at +7500 to win.

Right now, I have Gibbs’ win odds at 2.4%, versus the implied 1.3%. He’s not a likely winner, but that would mean his odds should be closer to +4000 than +7500. In NASCAR, that’s a pretty big advantage.

I might overestimate Gibbs, and I might have flaws in how I model him and Gragson. But I think last year’s data is skewed, and it makes these guys look less competent than they are. As a result, I’m willing to bet Gibbs on that number here, and I wouldn’t be shocked if we talk about Gragson being undervalued in other markets in the very near future.

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