After hitting rock bottom, Larson may be on the way up

Jeff Cogliandro  
Point Spread Weekly

May 4, 2019 02:26 PM

The Monster Mile at Dover takes center stage as the next formidable challenge for the drivers of the NASCAR Monster Energy series on Sunday.

One of the more interesting narratives for the Gander RV 400 (FS1, 2 p.m. ET) came from Kyle Busch as he said the speeds were simply too fast, especially through the corners. This does not come as a major surprise as we have seen corner speeds pick up this season in several instances. With faster corner speeds, there is a handicapping concern that cars will have a more difficult time passing. Almost universally, the drivers commented on the importance of track position during the race to come. 

This premium on track position is nothing new, however. If it’s even more pronounced than usual, then this places an increased value on the starting position gap between two drivers who are matched up. Oddsmakers have differential prices that are based on starting gaps between drivers, and the specific track at hand. This is something to pay attention to, but I would avoid putting too much emphasis on it due to the fact that several alternate strategies could be used to gain track position by teams who qualified poorly. One area where this starting gap does come further into play is with pit stall selection. The better qualifier has that advantage as well.  

I would like to take a moment to talk about Kyle Larson, and his situation at this point in the season. Larson has record of 4-26 in driver matchup wagers this season, excluding Daytona and Talladega. His ROI is -23 units during this span of matchups. 

Larson’s odds have likely hit rock bottom in all phases from driver matchups to race winner, and even championship winner. Larson is not unlike a powerhouse college football team who suffers an early season loss but is known to be very capable of still making the playoffs. Larson has a strong chance to totally turn this season around with his best performance of the year at Dover. If Larson should happen to get the win, or any win and make the playoffs, he would be a viable threat. Larson is not shy about saying that Miami Homestead is his best track. 

At the Westgate, Larson is currently 25-1 to win the 2019 NASCAR championship. When evaluating Larson it is difficult to believe that his odds will grow any longer as the season progresses.

 

If looking to wager on a driver to win the race, I believe there are a couple selections that appear to have value. 

Kyle Larson (12-1): Appears to have his best car of the season. Please shop this price. 

Daniel Suarez (40-1): Not quite as strong as I would like to see him entering the race. Taking Suarez to finish in the top 5 (8-1): has value if looking for protection. 

In terms of driver matchups wagers, we enter Dover with a record of 20-9 so far this season. Below are the matchups that made the cut this week so far.

Daniel Suarez (-110) over Jimmie Johnson (-110): We will stick with this play as discussed with Gill Alexander on Friday morning. Suarez can be played up to (-115)

Chase Elliott (-110) over Clint Bowyer (-110): Another of our Friday selections, Elliott is also playable up to (-115)

Please stay tuned for the lastest news and any added matchups or props as the race approaches.

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