The first two races of the NASCAR Cup season will both include drivers who do not make the Main Event. The exhibition Busch Light Clash has 36 entries, the charters, for 23 spots in the main event. The Daytona 500 will have 40 spots. Entry lists are not published for the Daytona 500. However, it is likely that at least 41-42 cars will try to make the race for those 40 spots. For Xfinity races there are 38 spots available for each race. For the Craftsman Truck Series there are 36 spots for each race. This means that if you place a bet before qualifying it is possible that the driver you bet on will not be in the race. So let’s look at how books treat bets on drivers who don’t qualify for the race.
For bets on a driver to win, finish Top 3/5/10, or to be a top manufacturer driver there are three types of rules on how bets on drivers who do not qualify are treated. The most favorable for bettors is that bets on drivers who do not start the race are void and refunded. The second type of rule states that if a driver attempts to qualify the bet is action. This means bets on a driver who tries, but fails to qualify, are losses. Finally, the last type of rule is that all bets placed are action. This means that a bet on a driver will be graded as a loss if the driver never even shows up to the event. At all books, for group bets and head to head bets, all drives in the group or head to head must start the race.
The Basic Rules
The three types of rule for when a bet is action seem simple. That said, the house rules of some books can be confusing. So let’s look at how some of the popular books treat bets. I’ll explain which rule I think they follow and highlight the section of the book’s house rules that I think covers the issue. The rules discussed below come from the house rules for VA as of February 3, 2024.
Bets at FanDuel are action only where the driver starts the race. For the Clash FanDuel has explicitly stated that the race means qualifying as one of the 23 cars in the final main event.
A bet at DraftKings the rule has awkward phrasing. However, at DraftKings, if a driver does not qualify for the race, bets on the driver are void.
At Bet365 a bet is action only if the driver qualifies for the race.
Bets at Superbook become action when a driver starts then race.
At Caesars a bet is action once a driver attempts to qualify for a race. For the clash this means once a driver starts a heat race bets are action. For normal races this means when a driver takes to the track to run a qualifying lap.
BetMGM Bets at MGM are action when a driver makes an attempt to qualify for the race.
BetRivers (and other Kambi Books)
Bets at Kambi books are always action, assuming the race is run. There is a red herring in the rules for these books. The red herring rule states that a driver who participates in officially-sanctioned practice or qualification session, has participated in the event. The rule continues to say this is true is even if the driver doesn’t participate in the race itself. But this isn’t relevant, as the underlying rule states that “no refunds will apply on those participants who do not take part for any reason….”
At ESPN Bet all bets are action, regardless of if the driver attempts to qualify as long as the event is held. As with the Kambi books, the ESPN Bet rule has a red herring about driver participation in practice.
So remember, check the rules of the books before you bet and be aware of the different rules for different books.