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Early lean for the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway

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After taking off the first Sunday since late February, the Cup Series resumes with the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway. Nashville is a 1.33-mile d-shaped concrete oval. The track is most similar in size and layout to the 1.5-mile tri-ovals of Kansas and Las Vegas. Last year the similarity in size and shape translated to strong incident adjusted speed correlation with those tracks. There was strong correlation both from Kansas and Las Vegas to Nashville and from Nashville back to Kansas and Las Vegas. In 2022 there was also meaningful correlation between Nashville and nearly every other intermediate track.

The correlation between Nashville and Kansas and Las Vegas has even crossed years. Divers performance at Nashville in 2022 had relatively strong correlation with performance at Las Vegas and Kansas in 2023. Giving addition weight to the Las Vegas and Kansas connection, Goodyear is bringing the same tire compound used at those tracks earlier this year to Nashville on Sunday.

Given the broad correlation between Nashville and most intermediate tracks I am looking at a large blend of intermediate tracks to project performance this week. Speed at Nashville in 2022 and 2023 performance at Las Vegas and Kansas take top billing in my performance metric. Driver speed at Dover, given its concrete surface also features proximately. Thereafter a blend of Charlotte, Darlington, and even Gateway fill out the mix.

Unfortunately for us the sportsbooks continue to get tighter with their odds. This means that once again this week I am hesitant to make any bets before I see practice. For NBC’s first broadcast of 2023 practice will be longer this week, coming in at 50 min, which means we will hopefully get even more insight than normal after drivers take to the track.

Ryan Blaney Top Ford | +240 (Bet365)

(Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of value on the board right now. So, I want to be up front, this isn’t a bet I have made, but it is the best one I see out there right now. I don’t think it’s a bad bet. I’m just not going to be heartbroken if I wait and miss out at this price.

Ford has been quite poor at the intermediate tracks so far this season. The modified nose appears to have created a significant aerodynamic disadvantage and is hurting the manufacturer across the board. Despite this disadvantage Ryan Blaney has managed to preserver at the tracks from this year that are getting the most weight in my performance metric. Blaney has the fourth best average running position among all drivers at relevant tracks in 2023. He is also by far the top Ford in this category. In relevant races, Blaney is running over three full positions better than the next Ford, Kevin Harvick. Blaney also managed to snap his winless streak a few weeks ago at Charlotte.

Given the overall speed Blaney has shown, I’m willing to consider paying the relatively high price of +240 to finish as the Top Ford. I wouldn’t go under this, which means this bet is only a value at Bet365. For those with access to that book its worthy of consideration.