The drivers of the NASCAR series are being greeted by an apparent mirage this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Summer conditions with warm temperatures are being said to give way to heavy rain on Sunday as the race was set to begin. In order to try and finish the race on Sunday, NASCAR has taken a proactive approach by moving the start time up one hour (1 p.m. ET) on Sunday. This should offer handicappers a clear signal of what could likely come.
This move by NASCAR directly affects our handicapping as we can already foresee the race is being prepped to run to a completion of the second stage. If they are able to complete the second stage before the rain washes out the day it would be considered official for both drivers and bettors alike. We have already seen it happen this season, and when it does often the results are not pretty. When drivers and teams are racing the rain we frequently see finishing positions that do not accurately indicate who was actually amongst the strongest that day. It also opens up the possibility for an underdog winner who decides to gamble on rain strategy with it paying off. Races that contain an accurate and wet forecast can often end up looking more like Daytona in terms dramatic position changes throughout the field. As a money manager and handicapper, it is imperative to pick your wagering spots. Adding a massive unknown like the weather goes against both of those foundational principles. With this handwriting on the wall, we will treat the race accordingly.
Below are a look at drivers who have value if the race were run without full completion. Some of these are drivers below only hold value if the rain is approaching the completion of the second stage on Sunday. Other drivers will likely take their spot if the race is postponed until Monday. If that were to occur we could open wagering up more at that point. If the race is held over until Monday without beginning on Sunday, I will update any possible new wagering options. As a side note, the weather forecast is not much better on Monday so there is no doubt the race will be pushed to a conclusion on Sunday if at all possible.
Martin Truex Jr. (4-1): The strongest car of the weekend overall in the key measuring factors of practice, he is also the 3rd favorite. Truex has led 40% of the laps at New Hampshire over the last 4 races, and along with Kyle Busch looks to be in the best form of any driver currently.
Denny Hamlin (5-1): Please especially shop Hamlin at this price. His odds have been all over the board but Hamlin hits value closer to 8-1. He is looking to get his first win of the season as the playoffs approach. Hamlin’s speeds in the practice sessions have been strong over the long run. These long run speeds should be treated as a marginal factor this weekend. The drivers want to wrap up the race tomorrow as badly as NASCAR, and they tend to race very clean in the early part of the race. The drivers begin to charge hard when the second stage is coming to an end, and Mother Nature is preparing to wave the checkered flag.
Ryan Blaney (18-1): With a very fast car, Blaney and his slightly overpriced teammate Brad Keselowski (8-1) look to both be contenders. Along with Kevin Harvick, this group appears to be the best non Toyota cars this weekend. Blaney offers value based on his odds, speed, and desire for an initial win this season. He could help himself dramatically with a win in terms of getting an edge on drivers who are only in the playoffs based on points.
Aric Almirola (40-1): This is a case where a win could be based on an alternate strategy paired with a fast car. Another of the drivers who is looking to firm up a playoff spot, Almirola is without question having his best year on the circuit. His speed alone has exceeded his current odds this weekend, and at his listed price with a forecasted weather scramble, Almirola offers value.
Daniel Suarez (75-1): Perhaps of all the drivers, none of them have more to gain by getting a win than Daniel Suarez. He is outside the playoffs by a margin that is large enough where it will take a victory to get him into the postseason. Suarez is not without a strong hand, as he has performed well at New Hampshire. Additionally, he will have the ace in the hole with Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs has represented the winning driver at New Hampshire in 4 of the last five races. Suarez has been decent in the analytics of the weekend, not stellar but his playoff situation puts him a level up. Suarez is one of only six drivers to have a top 10 finish in both races at New Hampshire last season. At odds of 75-1 he is worth a shot when were are looking to cover deep contenders in the rain.
This weekend this unsettled weather is dictating our limited matchup plays. These selections are based on what has, and can transpire over the weekend, with the possibility that rain ends the race early. Last week our record in driver matchups was 3-0 which brings our season total to 41-24. Please be sure to use our normal practice of betting the race as close to the start as possible. If there are late changes that are applicable I will post them on Twitter.
Ryan Blaney ( 110): over Joey Logano (-140)
Blaney has been sharp this weekend and this bet could be played to as much as (-120) as both drivers are 18-1 to win. The upward trajectory of Blaney’s practice sessions were apparent. Additionally he has been better prepared from a setup standpoint over the last few weeks. Blaney has the tools to cancel the reservation that Toyota has already made in Victory Lane on Sunday.
Daniel Suarez (-110): over Jimmie Johnson (-110):
Suarez, backed Joe Gibbs Racing and some of the most dominating team to track analytic combinations in NASCAR looks to be in top-10 form. Johnson on the other hand will likely be a bit more conservative in attempt to hold onto his tight playoff margin.