As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond Virginia the sportsbooks have gotten very tight with their odds. Richmond is a short flat track, just 3/4 of a mile long with 14 degree banking in the turns, 8 degree banking on the frontstretch and just 2 degrees of banking on the backstretch. Richmond is most commonly seen as similar to Phoenix and New Hampshire, although the track has significantly more tire wear than either of the other venues.
Richmond is quite predictable and with few exceptions, notably Ryan Blaney, the drivers who are good at Phoenix are good at Richmond. Modeling of this race is normally quite sharp, which may be the reason that some books have as many as six drivers with odds shorter than +1000. The Top 6 drivers at Kambi books have odds which imply one of those drivers will win over 70% of the time. Given these odds I can’t recommend any outright bets at this time. There is one matchup I’ve zeroed in on though.
Denny Hamlin +120 over Christopher Bell | DraftKings Sportsbook
There is no doubt that Christopher Bell is quickly establishing himself as the best driver at Joe Gibbs Racing. Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., with both still very good drivers, are on the wrong side of 40 and Ty Gibbs, while having shown immense potential in the Xfinity Serries over the past two years has not yet put it together in the Cup Series. This matchup with Bell is still mispriced though.
Over the six races we have seen in the Gen 7 car at Richmond, Phoenix, and New Hampshire, Bell and Hamlin have more or less been equal. If we look at number of laps inside the Top 10 over these last six races Denny has logged 1114 to Bell’s 1290. Looking at laps inside the Top 5 the numbers shift to Denny’s favor, with Hamlin spending 688 laps in the Top 5 compared to Bell recording just 615 laps inside the Top 5. Top 3 laps also favor Hamlin at 492 to 352 for Bell. Across all six races Hamlin has had an average running position of 9.7 to Bell’s 10.3. All of these numbers are within any reasonable margin of error given the relatively small sample size.
Looking just to earlier this month at Phoenix in the new low downforce package, Bell was fourth in my incident adjusted speed metric while Hamlin was sixth. Denny had 312 laps inside the Top 10, Bell had 311. Bell had 228 laps inside the Top 5, Denny had 164. Denny had 98 laps inside the Top 3, Bell had 89. Bell had 19 fastest laps, Denny had 13. Bell had an average running position of 4.8, Denny had an average running position of 5.8. Denny did have a terrible finish due to being on old tires at the last restart (and he made it worse by wrecking Chastain) but overall I suspect you are getting the idea here, they were incredibly close.
All things considered I’ll take plus money odds on a matchup that I have a tossup, peculiarly at Denny’s home track. I have a full unit on Denny at +120 and would bet this down to +110.