NASCAR Betting Guide: Crayon 301

William Byron has never finished top 10 in New Hampshire in the Cup Series. Can he finally buck that trend in the Crayon 301?

This week's Crayon 301 in New Hampshire is a super unique opportunity.

It's the first time we've seen the NASCAR Cup Series use their short track rules package at an oval since Martinsville, which was 10 races ago.

In other words, we've had time to forget which teams have had the best speed in this package. And some of the teams in the best form may not be as fast this weekend.

This is especially pertinent for the Toyotas. They've surged lately, and it has pushed Toyota's odds to win the race to +130 even though they have just six drivers entered. Given how fast they've been recently -- and how great some of their specific drivers are at New Hampshire -- I understand it.

I just don't agree with it, and neither does my model.

If you look back at relevant races in this package, we saw a different group of drivers consistently pushing for wins. Those drivers -- in my eyes -- are undervalued in the market this week, and we have multiple routes for getting exposure.

Let's run through those routes, outline why I'm still high on those drivers (or manufacturers -- hint, hint), and discuss my favorite spots for value this week based on FanDuel Sportsbook's NASCAR odds for New Hampshire.

Chevrolet to Win (+170)

(UPDATE: This number has since lengthened to +250. The Toyotas -- much to my dismay -- were great during practice and sucked up the entire front row. My model still puts Chevy's win odds at 35.5%, which is a value at +250, but it is worth noting that Toyota was just as strong as the market predicted.)

Most of the drivers who are undervalued by my model this week drive Chevys. So, why not just bundle them all together?

Even with Toyota's strength, my model has the two favorites to win as Kyle Larson and William Byron. Those two have combined to win all three races on short, flat tracks this year (Larson in Martinsville and Richmond, Byron in Phoenix), leading 505 of 1,117 laps. The Toyotas combined to lead 190 laps in those three races and finished no better than third.

Chevrolet hasn't won at New Hampshire since 2016 when Kevin Harvick did it before Stewart-Haas Racing switched to Ford. Hendrick Motorsports hasn't won here since 2012 with Kasey Kahne. It's very much not their track.

But Richmond, Phoenix, and Martinsville have shown their strength on three very different short, flat tracks, and teams like Trackhouse Racing could also get the job done.

The implied odds at +170 are 37.0%. I've got Chevrolet well above that, so of all the markets available at FanDuel, this is my favorite for Sunday's race.

William Byron to Win (+1100)

(UPDATE: Byron remains +1100 to win, but my model has dropped his win odds to 8.3%, even with the implied mark. He qualified seventh, but even when you adjust for the group he was in during practice, there wasn't a ton of speed. I'd pass if you didn't bet Byron earlier.)

Even if the "Chevrolet to win" bet is my favorite, I still gotta slobber over Willy B, specifically, for a second.

Byron is the current Cup Series points leader despite a 60-point penalty earlier this year. That shows how ungodly Byron's form is, and it has led to a series-leading four wins.

As mentioned before, one of those came at Phoenix, the closest comp to New Hampshire we've got. But he also led 117 laps in Richmond and arguably had the best car in that race.

New Hampshire, specifically, hasn't been kind to Byron in the Cup Series. He has never led a lap here, and his best finish is just 11th in 5 races. That's likely why the market is so cool on him.

I'm on board with Byron despite that for several reasons.

First, as mentioned, the form on relevant tracks is bananas.

Second, it's a small sample that primarily looks at Byron before his breakout.

Third, Byron does have success at this track -- just in lower series. He won here in the Truck Series, leading 161 of 175 laps during his age-18 season. He had a podium the following year in the Xfinity Series, his lone full season there. He also added wins in both series at Iowa Speedway, another short, flat track.

In other words, Byron can get around tracks like this, and his form is sick. His implied odds to win shouldn't be just 8.3%, and my model has him above 10%. I'm willing to bet him to win despite a mediocre track history.

Ross Chastain to Win (+1800)

(UPDATE: Chastain is still +1800 but has slipped to 3.8% to win in my model. Part of that his his 31st-place qualifying effort, but it's also just Toyotas gobbling up a lot of win equity. Chastain was decent in practice, even after adjusting for his group, but I'd hold off if you didn't bet him earlier.)

If you look at Ross Chastain's record at New Hampshire, you'll think the same thing as with Byron: mid. But background on Chastain's career trajectory alters that.

Back in 2021, Chastain was still running for Chip Ganassi Racing. This was before his big breakout. He finished eighth in that year's New Hampshire race, and his ninth-place average running position there was -- at the time -- the best of his Cup Series career.

He was just okay here last year, notching another eighth-place finish. But he had a decent car in Phoenix this year with a ninth-place average running position, and he turned a fifth-place average running position into a third-place finish in Richmond.

Basically, I don't see any reason to believe that New Hampshire will be a below-average track for Chastain, and we'd need that in order to put his odds at +1800.

My model has Chastain at 6.9% to win, up from 5.3% implied. I agree with what the model is saying and think he's a quality outright prior to practice and qualifying.

Alex Bowman to Finish Top 10 (+175)

(UPDATE: Bowman is still +175 to finish top 10, but his Saturday was wretched. He had poor speed in practice despite being in the faster group, and he qualified 25th. I would not take the +175 if you didn't take it earlier.)

Alex Bowman's form since returning from his back injury has been booty. His best finish is 12th across six races, and he has had a bunch of incidents.

I think we're getting a big enough discount to overcome that.

Bowman's top-10 odds in my model are 45.1%, up from 36.4% implied. He's up there in large part thanks to quality runs on the short, flat tracks earlier in the year where he lodged finishes of 8th, 9th, and 11th.

Bowman's history in New Hampshire is just fine. He has only one career top-10, but that came in 2021. He was top-15 each of the four years before that, so it's not as if he's actively bad here.

In order to get Bowman's top-10 odds to +175, I'd need to ding him big time for his back injury. But the further he gets removed from it, the better you'd think he'd race. With a return to a more "normal" track, I'm fine betting on an improvement in form here.

Martin Truex Jr. Over Christopher Bell (+116)

(UPDATE: Truex is now -112 to top Bell, effectively making it a toss-up. I think that's how it should be, so there's no remaining value in this market.)

Finally, a bet where I'm not actively fading the Toyotas.

Well, not all of them, at least. This time, I'm just fading a guy who has won a race at New Hampshire five of the past six years. What could go wrong?

I think Bell deserves the hype he's getting this week. He won this race last year and combined for four wins here between the Xfinity and Truck Series. This is his track.

But we can't dismiss Martin Truex Jr. You could argue it was Truex who should have won this race last year after he won the pole, won both stages, and led 172 of 301 laps. He just got caught behind a slower car on a restart, pushing him back to 11th and ending his shot at a win.

Plus, Truex's form right now is *chef's kiss*. He was runner-up in Nashville, finished top-five in Gateway and Charlotte, led 145 laps in Darlington, and won Dover. All of those tracks used the other rules package, but he also led 56 laps in Richmond earlier in the year.

Although this track favors Bell, form favors Truex. Thus, I think this matchup should be a toss-up at worst. My model has Truex slightly favored, so I'm happy to take the plus money even with how absurd Bell can be in New Hampshire.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Kyle Larson to Win (+1600)

So, betting on Chevy didn't work for me pre-practice. It was a rough mistake.

But if Larson is +1600 on a non-superspeedway, he's a value. End of discussion.

Larson was in the second group for practice, and even though it was a stronger group of cars, they were around two-tenths of a second slower than the first group. Once you make adjustments for each driver's group, I have Larson with the eighth-best single-lap speed and fourth-best 10-lap average. He qualified 15th, but there was speed there.

Larson has never won New Hampshire, but he had some nice runs here back in his Chip Ganassi Racing days. He was runner-up in his debut and has four top-fives, all before joining Hendrick Motorsports. With how fast he was on the other short, flats this year, I think he should be a force, even with the Toyotas humming. My model has Larson at 11.9% to win, way up from 5.9% implied.