After weeks upon weeks of Kyle Larson sitting atop the Nascar Cup Series standings, Denny Hamlin has overtaken first place following his victory at the South Point 400. Naturally, this shift places greater importance upon our next batch of 2021 Nascar playoff picks, which will be our YellaWood 500 predictions.
Let's take a look at the latest Nascar betting odds, courtesy of the folks over at BetOnline:
|Martin Truex Jr||+2500|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||+2800|
Make sure you're double-checking these Nascar odds before committing to any concrete Nascar picks. The lines at BetOnline as well as other top online sportsbooks will move between now and the opening lap at the YellaWood 500.
2021 YellaWood 500 Predictions
- When: Sunday, October 3
- Where: Talladega Speedway in Talladega, Alabama
- Start Time: 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
- Length: 188 Laps (500.08 miles)
Should Denny Hamlin be the Favorite?
Oddsmakers often tend to favor the winner of the most recent race because they know bettors will be pouncing on them. Denny Hamlin (+800) is indeed benefiting from his victory at the South Point 400, but also gets a bump from his overall elevated profile. His first-place finish was his second win of the season and it moved him ahead of Kyle Larson for the top spot in the Nascar Cup Series standings.
Here's the thing: Hamlin doesn't have the incentive to drive as aggressively at YellaWood. He led for 137 laps at South Point. But that was when he still needed to clinch a place in the Round of Eight. His most recent victory earned him entry into that field, and he's the first driver to secure it.
Sure, Hamlin could be focused on building up his lead in the standings and maximizing his starting spot in future races. But for the next two contests specifically, with a spot in the Round of Eight already sewn up, we see him driving more conservatively.
Is Kyle Larson Undervalued?
It's funny how recent results can impact the way a driver is viewed by oddsmakers and bettors.
This is the first race in forever for which Kyle Larson (+1200) hasn't registered as the favorite. And we're inclined to call that an overreaction.
Yes, Hamlin has overtaken him in the standings. But it's not like Larson is driving through a rut. He won the Bass Pro Shops Night Race earlier this month and nearly pulled off another victory at South Point. He won Stage 1 and actually held the lead for 96 laps.
"Almost winning" isn't the same as winning. But Larson still has a season-high six first-place finishes to his resume and has routinely been in the hunt even when he doesn't nab the top pole position. He is absolutely a threat to win at YellaWood and should be painted as a serious betting option when he's laying 12-to-1 odds.
Better Bet: Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick?
Kyle Busch (+1400) and Kevin Harvick (+1400) enter YellaWood with identical betting odds, and we, for the life of us, cannot understand why.
Indeed, Harvick has improved his driving down the stretch of races in recent runs. But he continues to have zero wins and zero pole-position finishes on his 2021 resume. We've held out hope for him to land a victory in previous races. We cannot bring ourselves to do it in this one.
Even if you want to bet on Harvick, you shouldn't do so at a 14-to-1 price point. Busch provides much better value for that entry. He hasn't finished in first since the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 back in June, but he's remained in the thick of the championship race with 12 top-five finishes and 18 top-10 flags.
Official YellaWood 500 Pick
Look, at 12-to-1, Kyle Larson is just too tasty for us to pass up. This is someone who has consistently driven himself to the front of the field and held position for dozens, if not hundreds, of laps at a time. Given that he still technically needs to qualify for the Round of Eight, we expect him to hit the throttle and be ultra-aggressive on the inside from the get-go.
Another name to consider: Martin Truex Jr. (+2500). He has the second-most wins on the season and ranks fourth in the Nascar Cup Series yet checks in as a 25-to-1 because he'll be starting from the rear of the pack after his car failed initial inspection. Though this is certainly a problem, it's not insurmountable. We have seen him race effectively from the back before.
The value being offered by Truex still isn't quite enough to move us off from the Larson pick. He has been the best, most consistent driver of the Nascar season. We see no reason to doubt him now, with the playoffs officially entering crunch time.
OSB Prediction: Kyle Larson (+1200)
Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your Nascar betting: