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Early best bet for the Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway

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Sunday the Cup Series makes its second trip of the year to Richmond Raceway. It’s the fourth race at a short flat track. It’s the fifth if you count Gateway, but that was using the intermediate package, so its significantly less relevant. It’s also the last race at a short flat track until the Championship race at Phoenix in November. As such, it’s possible that some teams may contact some testing for this race. However, given how tight the standings are and how important regular season finishing order could be for playoff points I don’t expect a lot of testing among the top teams this weekend.

Richmond has the highest tire wear of the short flat tracks. This means that teams will likely be taking fresh tires during any caution. However, we should expect to see teams who are able to preserve their tires and perhaps be able to save a set of tires for the end of the race to have an advantage at that time.

Despite its higher tire wear the correlation between Richmond and Phoenix is quite strong. There is also strong correlation between Richmond and New Hampshire. So, when trying to project performance at Richmond the primary focus is on Richmond and those two tracks. With that in mind I have an early bet that I’m locking in on a driver who has excelled at this track type both this year and over his careers.

Brad Keselowski Top 10 | +125 (Bet 365 and Hard Rock Sportsbook)

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Over his career Brad K has consistently been just about a coin flip finish Top 10 at short flat tracks. Overall, at Richmond, Phoenix, and New Hampshire he has a 53.8% Top 10 rate. At Richmond he is 13 of 27. Without any additional context this 48.1% Top 10 rate would be far enough clear of the 44.44% implied odds of +125 to merit considering the bet.

There is reason to think that Keselowski is more than 48% likely to record a Top 10 this week though. First, last year, his first as an owner-driver at Roush Fenway Keselowski (RFK) Racing was a tough year. RFK simply didn’t have speed for much of the year. Brad only managed six Top 10 finishes all year, his worst performance since his first year of full-time racing in 2010. If we remove last year as anomaly his Top 10 rate at Richmond improves to 52%. In addition, last year at the second Richmond race RFK began to find some speed. That speed has carried over into 2023.

This year Brad already has eight Top-10 finishes. His Top 10 results in include the first race at Richmond in the spring and the race two weeks ago at New Hampshire. Brad was also running inside the Top 10 for 96.8% of the race at Phoenix. Unfortunately, a late restart relegated him to an 18th place finish. Across the three short flat track races Keselowski has completed over 85% of his laps inside the Top 10. He has also been inside the Top 10 in my incident adjusted speed metric at all three short flat tracks.

I have 1u to win 1.25u on this bet.

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