Welcome to NASCAR Betting 101. NASCAR Betting offers opportunities that most other sports can only dream about. In the 2023 Fairleigh Dickinson’s was the second 16 seed ever to beat a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. At +2000, Fairleigh Dickinson’s win was the biggest upset win in the history of the tournament. If you are not already familiar with sports betting in general, that number might not mean much. So, if you want some more basic info, check out my Sports Betting Overview and Guide before continuing. In comparison, last year alone there were four 20-1 or longer winners in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Common Types of Bets
Outright (aka to Win) Bets
Bets on which driver will win the race, also known as outright bets are the simplest bets available. Outright bets are also the most available bet type. Every book that offers NASCAR odds offers outright bets.
To Place Bets
The availability of these bets will vary by book, but another very common bet is a Top 3, Top 5, or Top 10 bet. These bets are a bet that a driver will finish third or better, fifth or better, or tenth or better respectively. The odds on these bets get shorter as you move from Top 3 to Top 10. This is because it is easier to finish inside the Top 10 than it is to finish inside the Top 3.
Another very popular type of bet is a head-to-head or “matchup.” To win this type of bet you have to pick which of two drivers will finish ahead of the other. Often these bets pick two similarly situated drivers. Unfortunately, the days of -110 on both sides seem to have passed us by and books are ramping up the hold. Opening odds of -115 on both sides of a head-to-head bet is standard at most books now. That said, there are also many bets that will pick drivers that are not as evenly matched. These matchups will feature “plus money” odds on one of the drivers. The availability of matchup bets varies from book to book. As do the specific matchups offered.
Group bets are like head-to-head bets. Rather than picking one of two drivers though, you must pick one of four or even six drivers. To win the bet your driver to finish ahead of the all others in the group. As with head-to-head bets, the availability of and the groups available vary from book to book.
There are two different types of manufacturer bets offered. The more widely available bet is a bet on which manufacturer will win the race. This requires a bettor to pick if a Ford, Chevrolet, or Toyota driver will win the race.
The second manufacturer bet, is a top manufacturer driver bet. This bet requires you to pick which driver from a given manufacturer will have the best finish of that manufacturer. This is effectively a very large group bet.
Winning Team Bets
Like the winning manufacturer bet, a winning team bet requires you to pick the team that will win the race. If any driver from that team wins the race, you win the bet. One thing to keep track of with this bet is that books often publish an “any other” option for this bet. The “any other” option pools many smaller and less successful teams into a single option.
Bets Outside Finishing Position
Since 2022 NASCAR Cup Series qualifying for most races is determined by a two-round format. Drivers are split into two groups based on a formula that is based primarily on results from the prior week’s race for the first round. Each driver runs one lap to get up to speed and then a second lap to record the fastest possible time. The five drivers from each group with the fastest time advance to a second round. In the second round the ten drivers repeat this process and the driver with the fastest time wins the pole position. A pole bet is a bet on who will record the fastest time in the second round and start on the pole. If a later issue sends the pole winner to the rear to start the race the result of the pole bet does not change.
NASCAR races, other than the Coke 600 are split into three “stages.” While the Coke 600 has four stages. This means is that at two predetermined laps in the race there will be a caution thrown once the leaders cross the start/finish line. Stage racing started in 2017 in an attempt to make races more exciting. The stages create mini races within the race. The stage cautions also have the effect of artificially stacking up drivers. This often helps to creating more passing opportunities. A stage winner bet is a bet on which driver will be in first place at the end of stage one or stage two.
Know Your Books Rules
One surprising thing about NASCAR betting is that the same bet at two books may be graded differently. So, it is important to make sure that when you place a bet you know the house rules of that book. The two most important rules to keep in mind are rules about inspection and rules on when a bet is action.
Pre or Post-Inspection Results
The top five finishes of each race are subject to a post-race inspection. Although before the race all cars are inspected the post-race inspection is more detailed. As such, while rare, it is possible for a car to be disqualified after the event has completed. So it is important to know which results you book will use. Some books will use the results as cars cross the line, others use post-inspection results. In addition to the same day post race inspection after most races NASCAR takes some cars to R&D. The results of an R&D inspection may result in penalties, but will not change race results.
Most purely online books use results as the cars cross the finish line. While many books based in Las Vegas use the post-inspection results. As of the time I’m writing this, I’ve reviewed the rules for some the larger books as follows:
DraftKings. DraftKings is unique in that the book pays BOTH pre and post-inspection results. As such, assuming the odds at DraftKings are the same as another book, betting at DraftKings may give you a small, however slight, edge on the bet.
When Are Bets Action
While not an issue for most Cup races, it is important to make sure you know when a bet will be action or void. For example, for the Daytona 500 there will likely be more than 40 entries in the Cup Series. For lower series there are often more than 36 truck or 38 Xfinity entrants. This means that for these races there will be drivers who will not make the race. It is important to know how bets are graded if this happens.
Single Driver Bets
For most books a driver must at least participate in the pace laps for bets on that driver to win or finish Top 3/5/10 to be action. This means that if a driver doesn’t qualify your bet will be refunded as void. At the Kambi books however (BetRivers, Unibet, and Bally Bet), bets are action no matter what. This means that if there is a chance a driver wont make the race, betting at a Kambi book may present a greater risk than betting at other locations. Bad luck can also play a role here. This issue came into play in 2022. That year at Pocono Kurt Bush was injured during practice and did not race. At Kambi books his bets were graded as losers.
Group and Head-to-Head Bets
Head-to-head and group bets often have different rules for when a bet is action as compared to single driver bets. For head-to-head bets both drivers must typically start the race for the bet to be action. For group bets all drives must typically start the race for the bet to be action. That said, it is possible that a book could have different rules. This is particularly true for group bets. So again it is important to read the house rules and understand what will happen to your bet if a driver misses a race.
Thank you for taking the time to read NASCAR Betting 101. Hopefully this guide is helpful to you. As always, if you have any questions I’m available on X or in Discord to answer them. If you are not yet in Discord, please join at the bottom of the Your Profile page.
You can find my bets on WIN THE RACE every week, right here.