Welcome to our weekly "Hunting The Race Track" betting strategy series, where we will look for ways to build an edge with our wagers in all of motorsports, and more specifically, in NASCAR. From taking advantage of driver vs. driver matchups and offseason team changes, to finding value in Cup Series underdogs and more - there are no shortage of ways to break down professional stock car racing and cash more tickets in the process. We will also publish a separate weekly "NASCAR Sunday Betting Preview" article here at the Betting Predators website, which covers the main race/event of each weekend, throughout the entire racing season. Now, without further adieu, let's dive into this week.
This week I will be examining the three new chartered teams to NASCAR: 23XI Racing, Trackhouse Racing Team and Live Fast Motorsports. While teams like Penske, Hendrick, and Joe Gibbs are busy pursuing championships this year, these new teams are pushing for consistent speed and top 10 finishes. The Cup Series has completed one quarter of the schedule so far, so let's check in and see how they're all doing.
Speed Ranking Over the Last Five Races
From Las Vegas on March 7th to Richmond on April 18th, Bubba Wallace of 23XI Racing (20th in the Cup Series standings) ranks the highest with an average speed rank of 17.5 (Denny Hamlin, currently first place in the Cup Series, has an average speed rank of just 3). What really has propelled Bubba to the top of the new teams list was having the ninth fastest lap times at the Bristol dirt race. Wallace also posted the 13th fastest car at Phoenix. Right behind Wallace is Daniel Suarez of Trackhouse Racing Team who ranks 23rd in the Cup Series. Over the last five races, Suarez has an average speed rank of 18th and he ran well at Atlanta (9th fastest) as well. Suarez was also faster than Wallace at Bristol with the sixth fastest car, but outside of those two races Suarez’s best speed rank was 17th at Richmond and in the rest he ranks just in the 20’s. Coming in last place of the new teams is BJ McLeod of Live Fast Motorsports. McLeod didn’t run the Bristol dirt race and his average speed ranks just 33rd overall. Tough start for Live Fast Motorsports.
Total Number of Fastest Laps
NASCAR has run 2,594 laps so far this season, with Martin Truex Jr. of having run the greatest number of fastest laps at 276. So how have our new teams done? While it's very tough to compare new teams to established championship teams, it's again Daniel Suarez of Trackhouse Racing who has registered the most of the fastest laps at 65. A large portion of those, however, came at Bristol dirt (21 of the fastest laps) and Martinsville (34). Outside of those two races he hasn’t had much success running the fastest laps in the field. Bubba Wallace sits next with 33 of the fastest laps, and similar to Suarez, he had a fast car at two tracks (Daytona, 10 of the fastest laps; and Las Vegas, nine of the fastest laps). Outside of those two races he has either zero or just between two to four of the fastest laps at a given race. Coming in last place, BJ McLeod has run only two of the fastest laps - both of these came at Las Vegas on March 7th.
Best Average Finish
Having a fast car during an entire race does not mean that you will have a great finish. Depending on the track, a lot of variance can occur, and drivers can often face obstacles that impact their race such as large crashes, pit road penalties, debris on the track, and poorly-timed cautions that impact pitting strategies, just to name a few. Despite these unavoidable obstacles, drivers do get paid to have great finishes. Daniel Suarez again leads our group of new chartered teams and their respective drivers with an average finish of 20.3. His most impressive work, in my opinion, was at the Bristol dirt race, despite the fact that Suarez had very little dirt experience beforehand and still managed to place fourth at the end of stage one, second at stage two and fourth overall. Suarez also led for 58 laps, which ranked second to race winner Joey Logano who led 61. Bubba Wallace is next yet again behind Suarez with an average finish of 21.6. Wallace has had three finishes in 16th place at each of Phoenix, Atlanta, and Martinsville, and he and crew chief Michael Wheeler have been aggressive in certain races trying to flip the field during green flag pit cycles. It hasn’t worked yet, but making different calls than the rest of the field can definitely help move a struggling team into victory lane. As expected, McLeod has the lowest average finish of these new three teams, posting an average finish of 30.3. McLeod's best finish was race one at the Daytona 500, where he finished 23rd.
Is There Any Hope?
A lot of hype and anticipation was on 23XI Racing this, and for good measure. One of NASCAR's new chartered team featured NBA legend Michael Jordan as a part-team owner, while Trackhouse Racing also featured their own superstar team partner in Pitbull. Some fans thought that these two teams would be more successful than what they've shown so far, but we need to keep in mind that these are still new teams. So yes, there is certainly still hope, especially when we look at specific tracks that these teams can better take advantage of throughout the season. One of these track types are the superspeedways.
Why is that, you might ask? Well first off, when it comes to superspeedways, drivers will mostly race in tight packs and at high speeds, and lower-tier equipment therefore is cancelled out because drivers will draft each other and subsequently make both cars faster by reducing the overall effect of drag due to airflow. Lower tier teams also have a better chance of missing the big wreck here if they are hanging out in the back - and while half of the field is crashed out, these teams can now race for a top 15 or top 10 finish.
The Daytona 500 was in fact won by a lower tier team (Michael McDowell, Front Row Motorsports), and we pull up the schedule, we can look no further than this Sunday, April 25th, when NASCAR is at Talladega Superspeedway. Talladega is a 2.6 mile oval and features the biggest track on the entire schedule. If you like to play NASCAR DFS, then these superspeedways also offer a great time to draft drivers from the rear of the field because of place differential points. This weekend we get BJ McLeod starting 31st, Bubba Wallace starting 24th, and Daniel Suarez starting 19th. Enjoy the unexpected and BOL in your lineups!