How to Bet on NASCAR and the Betting Odds
NASCAR has become one of the hottest sports to bet, so we're here to put you on the fast track to understanding racing odds and finding the best places to wager. The two main ways of gambling on NASCAR are "Betting to Win" a race and "Matchup Betting" which pits a driver against another driver or a group of drivers.
"Betting to Win" an outcome event like the Daytona 500 is the most common way to wager on a NASCAR race. Since NASCAR has multiple races over the course of a year, "Betting to Win" obviously offers numerous wagering opportunities. It is very important to note that not all the drivers in a race may be listed, so another NASCAR betting option is on the "field" which includes all other drivers not listed.
The NASCAR odds on a "field" bet depend on how many drivers are listed and how likely it is for the top drivers to win. In other words, if the same five or six drivers seem to battle it out for the top spots each race, the odds on the "field" will be much higher since there is less likelihood that one of the longshots in the "field" will win.
Here's an example:
Favorites or top drivers = 5/1 to 10/1
30 or so other well-known drivers listed individually = 10/1 to 200/1
Field (collection of 20 or more not listed) = 80/1
Futures are another way you can "Bet to Win" that can offer you appealing NASCAR odds because you are betting far in advance of when the event takes place. For example, betting on the 2006 Daytona 500 now might get you much better value on Jeff Gordon, who may be 10/1 at this moment but dip to 6/1 closer to the event if he is on a roll. For more information on the value of betting NASCAR futures, read How Future Bets Can Pay Off.
In addition, NASCAR drivers are awarded Nextel Cup points according to the place they finish in each race, and those points are accumulated over the course of the season (click here to learn how the NASCAR points system works). Some Las Vegas sportsbooks will allow you to bet on who you think will finish atop the Nextel Cup standings, giving you yet another opportunity when it comes to betting NASCAR.
Meanwhile, "Matchup Betting" offers an alternative to simply betting on a NASCAR race's winner. Artificial head-to-head matchups are created by oddsmakers and involve drivers who are all competing against each other to win the race, with the bet specifically focused upon how one driver finishes compared to another driver in the matchup. Group matchups are another "matchup betting" option particularly popular in golf and NASCAR, where you can select how one driver will finish amongst a group of other drivers. Both head-to-head and group matchup NASCAR odds are based on the money line (check out How to Read the Money Line for more information).
Since NASCAR has pre-qualifying, not everybody will start the race, so most group matchups will typically require all individuals in the group to start in order to be eligible for action. Different sportsbooks will often feature different matchups, and this is very important to note because you can shop around to different online sportsbooks and try to find the NASCAR matchup that's most worth betting on. There are several advantages to betting at elite online sportsbooks but the very best will give you the most wagering opportunities, so it's a good idea to consider betting online and find out what everybody has to offer.
Also, keep in mind that popular drivers tend to be over-rated and over-priced when oddsmakers create these artificial matchups due to their status of being more well-known with the public, so the underdogs are usually a good play because they offer more value. If you like a particular driver going into a NASCAR race, your best move is to compare matchups across multiple sportsbooks and put a larger wager on the biggest mismatch in your estimation. Then you can also put down a small wager on your favorite driver to win the race in case he takes the checkered flag. By betting your driver to win the race and a matchup, you'll have double the fun knowing you've got double the chances to win!
If you are a knowledgeable NASCAR fan who has a good feel about how races will likely turn out, then you should most definitely trust your insights and use them to find strong bets. For those of you with less experience, several sports web sites have power rankings for drivers which should give you a good idea of who's hot on the NASCAR racing circuit and who's not. Of course it's up to you to decide which driver you want to bet on, but the more you learn about NASCAR racing, the more prepared you will be when placing your bet. Hopefully now at least you know the basics of betting NASCAR and how to use NASCAR odds to your advantage!
About the Author: RJ Bell is the founder of Pregame.com - Where sports bettors get ready. RJ has been an expert contributor to Maxim Magazine, CNN.com, About.com, and ABC News - and has won 3 world handicapping championships! Located in Las Vegas, the Pregame.com team works at adding to your betting confidence with powerful game insights and sportsbook reviews. FreePicksByEmail.com, the biggest daily sports betting newsletter, delivers help from famous handicappers.