This week sportsbooks have been slow to open up odds on the full range of markets that we have typically see. Last night Fan Duel became just the third major operator to open its Top 10 market (Caesars was first to open Top 10 odds with Kambi books, Barstool, BetRivers, and UniBet shortly behind). At Fan Duel one driver’s odds, while not particularly long, stand out as mispriced for this market.
While my model doesn’t love him this week, largely because of his poor history at Homestead, I love Erik Jones this week. With the exception of his aforementioned poor performance at Homestead, Jones is one of the best high-speed, high tire wear drivers in the Cup Series. Offering him at plus money odds for a Top 10, +115, at a track he has been strong at throughout his career makes no sense to me. For reference at Kambi books Jones is -118 and at Caesars he is -110 for a Top 10.
Last year at Auto Club Jones was second in my incident adjusted speed metric. At Darlington he was 10th in incident adjusted speed for the first race and ninth in the second race. Over his career at Auto Club Jones has an average running position of 8.54, best among active drivers. Jones average running position is certainly helped by his strong performance of 4.8 last year, but has always been strong, with his worst performance being 13.1 in 2020, when he still managed a 10th place finish. At 91.5%, Jones has spent a greater percentage of laps run inside the top 15 at Auto Club than any other active driver. Finally, Jones has run 1002 of 1002 possible laps at this track. Simply put, Jones is incredibly consistent at Auto Club and finishes races.
Turning to a less predictive stat, but the one that many folks will be drawn to, finishing position, Jones still looks strong. Past finishing position, particularly when looking at a single event, is not a great predictor of future finishing position. As I mentioned on twitter this morning if you just look at finishing position you can get a inaccurate idea of what kind of speed a team actually had. In the long run the faster cars will have better results.
That said, Jones has finished inside the Top 10 at Auto Club in three of his five starts here and was close in a fourth race. His five finishes are 19th, 12th, seventh, tenth, and third. Jones has also finished inside the Top 10 in seven of his ten starts at Darlington, which although it is much shorter and has much higher banking, has high correlation to Auto Club due to the extreme tire wear at both tracks.
Based on his consistency I have Jones finishing inside the Top 10 over half of the time. At +115 the implied odds of Jones finishing inside the Top 10 are just 46.51% which gives us quite a bit of wiggle room even if I’m overestimating his potential. To ensure we are keeping our edge I wouldn’t bet this under +100, but I have a full unit down on Jones at +115 and am comfortable betting down to even money on this prop.