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How to bet on NASCAR

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

March 3rd, 2021

Betting on a NASCAR race is a far cry from betting on head-to-head matchups in various sports leagues across North America, but it is not something that should intimidate a beginner.

The NASCAR season takes place from mid-February to mid-November, with the majority of races being held on a Sunday afternoon. Every Cup Series event, regardless of track size or configuration, pits the best stock car drivers on the planet in a 40-car free-for-all.

The competition is well-balanced, so bettors who study carefully can gain an edge and cash on winning drivers at odds that are significantly higher than the typical -110 offered on various sides when betting on a sport like football or basketball.

Buckle up and get ready to improve your NASCAR betting game!

NASCAR is a straightforward betting sport

Horse racing bettors will find themselves at home when it comes to wagering on NASCAR. In this sport, bettors will lean primarily on win bets using moneylines provided by oddsmakers.

Unlike most major sports in North America, there are no point spreads to consider when looking at NASCAR odds.

Reading NASCAR odds

When viewing NASCAR race odds, all drivers – with very few exceptions – will have a “+” next to their odds. This indicates that a bettor will receive a payout above even money when they cash a wager on that driver.

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Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Busch Light during practice for the Busch Clash. (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire)

For example, if Kevin Harvick is the +400 favorite to win a given race, that means a bettor would receive $40 in profit for every $10 they invest – or $50 in total – if Harvick prevails.

If a driver has a “-” next to their odds, that means a bettor will receive a return of below even-money on their winning wagers. For instance, -150 odds means a bettor would have to risk $15 to make a $10 profit ($25 total return).

How to win money betting on NASCAR races

A good strategy for NASCAR betting is to focus on 2-4 drivers that you think can win an upcoming race. There are many things that can go wrong for even the best drivers on a given raceday, like pit road penalties, crashes, or engine failures, so it’s not a great idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

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Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx SupportSmall Toyota, during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/Pool via Icon Sportswire)

However, if you’re betting three or more drivers to win a given race, be sure to protect your profit margin. For instance, if you wager $10 each on Denny Hamlin at +300, Chase Elliott at +600 and Joey Logano at +800 to win a given race and Hamlin is victorious, your profit is a mere $10 – hardly worth the risk.

Picking a race winner

Sites like driveraverages.com and racing-reference.info are excellent resources when making NASCAR predictions. They offer data on how drivers have fared in the past at certain tracks, measuring things like wins, Top 5s and laps led. Initial NASCAR race odds are often determined by prior performances at that particular circuit. The TwinSpires Edge also features expert picks for every NASCAR race all season long.

NASCAR betting lines will typically fluctuate depending on practice speeds and qualifying speeds. NASCAR.com offers charts on how the cars fared in short and long-run practices. Drivers that place near the top in both short and long-run speed are often very dangerous on raceday.

Qualifying, which lasts for no more than two laps, is not the greatest barometer of how a car will fare over a 400-mile or 500-mile race, but it does determine starting position for the races.

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NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott wins the Pole Award for qualifications for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000Bulbs.com 500 race. (Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire)

Starting on the pole is a boon, as the leader gets all-important “clean air” to their car and can avoid traffic and potential accidents. Drivers that start toward the back have more work to do to gain track position and are more likely to get into wrecks.

COVID-19 protocols have unfortunately eliminated NASCAR practice and qualifying at many tracks in 2021, making past performance figures that much more valuable.

Prop Bets in NASCAR

There aren’t too many NASCAR prop bets, but there are some intriguing wagers to consider beyond the traditional win bets.

For instance, bettors can select which manufacturer will win a given race (Ford, Chevrolet or Toyota), with moneyline odds set accordingly.

Futures Betting in NASCAR

Betting to win the championship is by far the most popular NASCAR futures market. The season is very long – 36 races to be exact – so NASCAR championship odds will vary only slightly from week-to-week until the playoffs begin (final 10 races). 

The championship race, which will be held in Phoenix in 2021, will offer only four drivers a chance to win the Bill France Cup (determined by best finishing position).

NASCAR Head-to-Head Matchups

If you’re not sure who will win a given race, but are certain that a particular driver will not fare well, look no further than the head-to-head matchups market to get your bet down.

Head-to-head matchups are just as they sound – select one driver to finish ahead of the other. Your chosen driver need not win the race, nor even finish in the Top 20, so long as the opposing driver does worse.

Moneyline odds can range anywhere from +150 to -150, depending on the two drivers in question.

Group Betting

In group betting, bettors are asked which driver will record the best finish of a given set of drivers – usually five or more. Favorites are typically assigned even-money odds or lower.

Place Betting

Place bets in NASCAR work much like place and show bets in horse racing. You can select a driver to finish in the Top 3 or Top 5 in a given race, but at odds significantly reduced from their win odds.

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Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Discount Tire during practice for the Daytona 500. (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire)

For instance, if Brad Keselowski is +600 to win a race, his odds to finish Top 3 could fall to about +150.

Bet on NASCAR at TwinSpires Sports

Residents of Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have the green flag to enjoy legal NASCAR betting at our sportsbook. So start your engines, race toward our NASCAR odds page, and start wagering today!

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