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The NASCAR Cup Series is one of the most popular motorsports in the world and something of a hidden jewel when it comes to betting. NASCAR odds aren’t always as keenly followed as a more global phenomenon like Formula 1 racing, but this is an advantage because sportsbooks are likely to offer better odds with smaller pools.
In this primer, we’ll help you figure out NASCAR odds and betting and get you ready to double your fun when watching the next big NASCAR event.
Like most sports leagues, NASCAR has a points system. This system is based on where a car finishes and the number of laps led by the car. There’s a regular season, which is followed by playoffs. Twenty-six races take place in the regular season, after which the top 16 drivers participate in the playoffs.
Unlike most other sports, if a driver wins even one race in the regular season, they can take part in the playoffs. Additionally, if more than 16 drivers have won a race, the one with the highest number of points earned in the regular season will be selected over the others.
There are ten playoff races, and that is the time when things heat up. There is very little between the best drivers in terms of skill and speed, which opens up all sorts of iterations for the podium finish. The first nine playoff races are divided into three rounds, and four drivers are eliminated after each round before a winner is decided.
The playoffs have undergone quite a few changes over the years, so drivers value winning over simply collecting points. This has attracted newer audiences to the sports and has helped NASCAR remain one of the world’s most competitive auto racing sports while keeping its older audience craving for more high-speed stock racing action.
NASCAR Odds Formats
The odds form the core of all betting because they are the number one factor when devising your betting strategy.
This holds true for NASCAR odds just as much as the next sport, and it is important to learn how to interpret the odds before placing wagers. Reading and understanding the odds is step one of beginning your journey.
Let’s look at the three types of odds formats you will spot. Remember that odds are convertible from one format to another.
This is the format you’ll come across most when looking for NASCAR odds, given it’s an American-based sport. This format simplifies the betting process because the odds here are presented as either positive or negative whole numbers that provide three key types of information: the amount of reward you can get, who the underdog is, and who is favored.
Let’s say Chase Elliott is given odds of -300 to go on and win the Cup Series, and Daniel Suarez is given odds of +2500 to win the series. The immediate information that the American odds give you is that Chase Elliott is a favorite to win compared to Daniel Suarez because his negative number odds are ‘shorter’ than Suarez’s positive number odds.
This concept is best explained by the fact that the numbers represent either how much you would win or how much you must stake. In this case, you would need to place a successful bet of $300 on Elliott to win a reward of $100 or a total payout of $400.
This stands to reason - since he’s a favorite, your reward would be lower than your stake. On the other hand, if you placed $100 on Daniel Suarez and he went on to win the Cup, you would receive a $2500 reward or a total payout of $2600, including your initial stake. Once again, the logic here is clear - you are taking a higher risk on a less favored racer, so your reward is also higher.
Of course, you aren’t obligated to place $100 bets, but the proportions of reward will remain the same no matter how much you wager.
These aren’t as intuitive to pick up as American odds but do provide a relatively simple method to calculate your payout once you get used to them
The NASCAR odds on Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez in the previous example would be represented as 1.33 and 26.00 respectively, and the way to gauge your payout would be to simply multiply the decimal odds by the amount of money that you are staking on either of them.
So, if you bet $100 and Chase Elliott ends up winning, your payout will be $100 x 1.33 = $133, or a $33 profit. Change that stake to $300, like in the previous example, and your payout hits $400.
Likewise, a $100 bet on Suarez nets you $100 x 26.00 = $2600. The fundamental difference between decimal odds and American odds -- other than the nature of the numbers -- is that decimal odds give you your total payout, while American odds only indicate how much you would win.
Fractional NASCAR odds are perhaps the most advanced format, at least in the sense that they involve a lot more calculation than the other two. They do, however, provide a fair amount of easily interpreted information. The odds for Elliott and Suarez from our examples earlier would be presented as 0.33/1 and 25/1 respectively.
The easiest way to understand these odds is to remember that the numerator always represents the reward, and the denominator represents the stake. So, in the case of Elliott, every $1 you bet would win you $0.33 if he went on to win, every $10 bet would win you $3.33, and so on. With Suarez, every successful $1 bet would win you $25.
Types Of Betting On NASCAR
Now that you’ve understood what the odds are trying to tell you, let’s look at the types of bets you can place on NASCAR.
As the name suggests, these bets are placed on results that will occur in the future. In the NASCAR contest, that result could be the winner of a race, the championship winner, a driver to finish in the Top 10, and other such results.
The primary characteristic of a futures bet in NASCAR is that you will, at a time, be backing one driver against the rest of the pool. As such, this can be a high-risk bet - with the associated high rewards, of course - and one of the tougher ones to win.
For instance, if Kyle Busch is the outright favorite to win a race or the championship, and his odds to do that begin at a positive value -- say +400 -- then you are about to place a very difficult bet. Those are pretty long odds, relatively speaking, for a favorite to have in a racing pool that generally involves 40+ drivers. If you put $100 on Busch in this case, he’d have to beat many other racers to win you a $400 reward.
Futures, in that sense, can come with mixed results; however, they are still pretty popular, and you might see variations on the outright Cup Series winner odds from some sportsbooks. These might include an each-way bet, in which you will be rewarded at a fraction of the odds if your chosen outright winner driver finishes in the top 3 or top 5, or any such predetermined limit set by the sportsbook.
The NASCAR matchup bet is possibly the most popular type of bet people place on the sport. Here, you bet on a contest between two drivers -- or more, in some cases -- and will just have to pick one of them to win. The “win” in this case is determined by which of the two drivers in the matchup finishes ahead in the race, and there isn’t an expectation of one of them going on and actually winning the entire event.
When you view this in comparison to the futures bets, it is the easier of the two and generally the lower-paying one unless your matchup involves a heavy favorite and a heavy underdog. If you’re familiar with the sport and its nuances, it is far easier to pick a winner between two racers than pit one driver against the rest of them.
If your matchup was between Kyle Larson (-110) and Denny Hamlin (+120), and you put $100 on Denny Hamlin, then Hamlin would have to finish ahead of Larson, no matter which position in the overall scheme of things, for you to win a reward of $120. If Larson finishes ahead, your bet is void, and you lose your stake. Matchups are as simple as that.
NASCAR Prop Bets
The NASCAR prop bets offer you the chance to bet on isolated events in a race, much like prop (short for proposition) bets work for any other sports. These events often have to do with the workings and laws of a race and very rarely involve incidents that affect the overall result of the race itself.
For instance, you can bet on which driver will be the first to make a pit stop, how many drivers will actually end up finishing the race, or how many caution flags will surface during the race. From those three examples, you can tell that the overall results of the race and the placings of the drivers may not necessarily have a correlation with these events.
That makes prop bets one of the most fun ways to bet on any sport, and that also extends to NASCAR betting. As with all prop betting, live or real-time wagering is when it can be the most fun
Parlays are tiered bets that allow you to bet on multiple events or results occurring, with high odds and payouts, provided every leg of your bet wins. For example, let’s say that you fancy Ross Chastain, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, and William Byron to all finish in the top 10. Let’s say that their individual odds of finishing in the top 10 are as follows:
You could place $100 on each of them, i.e., a total of $400, for a potential reward of $2050 if they all manage to finish in the top 10. Or, you could create a parlay bet involving all four of them and stake $100 on higher odds for a higher reward.
The parlay odds, in this case, would be the product of the decimal odds, i.e., 4 x 5.5 x 7 x 8 = 1232.00. In American format, that would be +123100! A stake of $100, provided all four of those drivers finish in the top 10, would pay you $123,100 in rewards. If even one of them doesn’t manage to make it, your whole bet falls apart.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it legal to bet on NASCAR?
Yes, sports betting is now legal in Ohio after it was passed into state law. You can bet on motor racing in a number of ways, as outlined in this article.
How many drivers participate in a NASCAR race?
NASCAR races, in general, have at least 40 drivers.
What format are NASCAR odds presented in?
While betting on NASCAR odds, you will most likely come across the American format when betting from the United States. If not, your sportsbook will allow you to toggle between the different odds formats from within their UI.
Is NASCAR betting profitable?
Like any other form of gambling or investing, NASCAR betting can be profitable if you do your homework and stay disciplined. NASCAR betting doesn’t always provide the same patterns as track and field sports to latch onto, so apart from knowing your data, your intuition can also be a big factor in your success.