The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Northeast to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH. Chase Elliott improved his lead in the standings, but is he the favorite on the Ambetter 301 odds board coming into the week? Read on to find out.
When looking to bet on a NASCAR race, it’s important to know a bit about the track. New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a 1.05-mile track that seats about 76,000 and is nicknamed “The Magic Mile.” It is a 301-lap race over 318.458 miles. For being one of the newer tracks, by comparison, NHMS has a dark history. Back in 2000, Kenny Irwin Jr. was killed in a practice run in which he hit the wall head-on. This was just eight weeks after Adam Petty was killed at the same track. Those two incidents played a major role in changing NASCAR’s safety regulations.
Who are the Favorites?
We have a change at the top of the Ambetter 301 odds board. Instead of one of the usual suspects like Elliott or Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney enters the week as the favorite with +650 odds. There’s been plenty to like about Blaney this season. He trails Elliott by 47 season points, despite not having a win on the season. His seven top-five finishes have been impressive, including last week at Atlanta. He also has just two DNFs, which is something that can commonly hurt drivers in the standings.
Blaney has found some success at NHMS in the past. While he hasn’t emerged victorious, he’s finished in the top 10 in four of his last five races at the track, including a fifth-place finish last season. He was able to get out in front for a while and led 64 laps on his way to winning Stage 1 before coming in third at the end of Stage 2. Will this be the first victory of the season for Blaney that also helps him close the gap with Elliott? It remains to be seen. But one thing we know about Blaney is that he’s been a model of consistency all year. Even if he doesn’t end up in Victory Lane, expect another top-10 finish from the Ford driver.
It’s rather surprising to see Joey Logano this high on the Ambetter 301 odds board at +700, tied for second-best odds to win. Logano’s first career win came at NHMS as a 19-year-old in just his 20th career start in the Cup Series. He won again in 2014. While he hasn’t captured the checkered flag at Loudon since it’s been one of his bread and butter tracks.
Since his win in 2014, he’s finished outside of the top 10 just twice in 10 races. One of the two was an 11th-place finish. In that same span, he finished fifth or better in half of those races. One of Logano’s two wins came on a similar short track at World Wide Technology Raceway. The value of +700 isn’t the best, but Logano will have a fine outing at Loudon.
If you’re looking to bet on NASCAR this weekend, one of the names that are likely already in your head is Kyle Busch. Busch leads all active drivers in laps led at NHMS with a whopping 1,134. Busch has had stretches of dominance, but they haven’t come later, as he’s crashed out of each of the last two races at Loudon. From 2013-2019 however, he finished in the top 10 in 10 out of 12 races. In 99 races on intermediate 1-mile tracks, Busch is second among active drivers with nine wins. Don’t let the last two outings at NHMS throw you off if you want to bet Busch this weekend.
Who Will Contend?
Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. each enter at +800 on the Ambetter 301 odds board. Hamlin’s statistics at NHMS are incredibly similar to Busch’s. Both have three wins, both have 11 top-five finishes, Hamlin has one more top-10 finish while Busch leads in laps led by a wide margin. What does that mean? It means in this case that Hamlin has been better at biding his time before getting up to the front rather than getting there and staying there like Busch. Hamlin is third among active drivers at intermediate (1 mile) tracks with six wins and third in laps led. Hamlin at +800 is worth the price.
Can the same can be said about Truex Jr.? In 28 starts at Loudon, he hasn’t captured the checkered flag and has finished in the top five only 25 percent of the time. His 13 finishes in the top 10 have helped boost him to fifth among active drivers in terms of average finish at New Hampshire. It’s also been a case of bad luck in some ways for Truex Jr. He’s fourth among active drivers in laps led at the track and he’s the only driver that’s led 98 laps or more at the track without capturing a win. Could this be the weekend Truex Jr. gets the win, or will he end up as a partner for Hamlin or Busch down the stretch? At +800, stay away in terms of an outright bet.
Where’s the Value?
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering how the article has gone this long without mentioning any of the Chevrolet drivers. The fact of the matter is, the Chevys don’t race as strongly on these tracks as the bigger tracks. Elliott enters with +900 odds. In eight starts at NHMS, Elliott has two top-10 finishes and one finish in the top five. Not particularly bad stats, but far and away from the usual numbers we see from Elliott.
Of the two, Larson (+1000) might have a better chance of taking the checkered flag. In 11 races he’s finished in the top 10 six times and the top five four times, including back-to-back second-place finishes in 2017. If you’re set on going with one of the Hendrick Motorsports guys, look at Larson before Elliott.
At +2500, Aric Almirola has some value. He won last year’s race at NHMS, but started on the pole in the 2020 race, illustrating that he’s comfortable here. He also finished third in 2018 running, so it wasn’t like it came out of nowhere. If looking for a reasonable longshot, Almirola’s value is just right.
Kevin Harvick has been in this section of these articles before. But this might be his best opportunity yet. He has raced considerably well coming in, with two top-five finishes in his last six races and four in which he finished in the top 10.
His track record at NHMS is also incredibly impressive, even lately. He finished sixth in last year’s race but still got out front to lead 66 laps. In his last 11 races at NHMS, Harvick has finished in the top 10 in nine of them and fifth or better in eight of them with three wins in that stretch. At +1600, he should be on your radar.
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