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NASCAR Picks: Motorsports Odds, Best Bets to Consider on DraftKings Sportsbook for the NASCAR Cup Series Wise Power 400 at Auto Club

Pearce Dietrich gives his top NASCAR bets on DraftKings Sportsbook for the NASCAR Cup Series Wise Power 400 at Auto Club, which starts on February 27 at 3:06 p.m. ET.

Daytona can be a crapshoot in NASCAR betting, but the NASCAR picks article went 3-1 last week. This raises the season total to 7-1, and the trend of winning NASCAR bets from the 2021 season continues to carry over. Let’s look through the data, and find the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series Wise Power 400 at Auto Club, which gets underway Sunday Feb. 27 at 3:06 p.m. ET.

Place your NASCAR bets on DraftKings Sportsbook and bet online by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app.

Wise Power 400 Winner

Kyle Larson (+400)

It became clear last season that Kyle Larson was being held back by his Chip Ganassi Racing equipment. In his first season with Hendrick Motorsports, he won 11 races and a championship. Exclude the plate races due to their random nature, and Larson won one-third of the races in 2021. Larson was great at tracks where he had previously struggled and was amazing at tracks where he had already experienced a modicum of success.

Auto Club (Fontana) has always been a great track for Larson. The Californian finished second in his first Cup Series race at this intermediate track in the Golden State. He led 110 laps and won at Auto Club in 2017. The next season, he earned another second-place finish. In the Xfinity Series, he has two wins and his worst finish is eighth at Auto Club. Due to the rough track surface — it has not been repaved in 25 years — some say Fontana is a giant two-mile dirt track. It’s no surprise that Larson immediately figured out this track and mastered the fast groove near the wall.

Still, there’s more in favor of the 2021 champion. His crew chief, Cliff Daniels, built a fast race car for the last race at Auto Club. It was in a different racing package, but it was also a different driver. Jimmie Johnson’s best days were behind him in 2020, but in that Fontana race, Johnson recorded the third-most laps inside the top 5.

Featured Matchup: Austin Cindric vs. Ryan Blaney

Austin Cindric (+170)

This might be a reach. From a record perspective, I would like to avoid this “Featured Matchup.” That’s not the way it works, so I will reluctantly chase Austin Cindric. Make no mistake this is a low confidence play.

On the surface, Blaney is the play. He nearly won this race in 2020. He had a second-place finish locked up until he corded a tire in the final laps. In contrast, this is Cindric’s first Cup Series race at Fontana, and he wasn’t particularly good at this track in his limited experience at Auto Club in the Xfinity Series. So what gives?

Blaney has a new crew chief, Jonathan Hassler. Not only will he be without Todd Gordon — genius crew chief — but the 2022 package may not suit Blaney at the intermediate tracks. Blaney is a good short track racer, and he’s strong at the flat-out, full-throttle intermediate tracks. We’re talking high-speed, high-downforce, high-grip tracks. In the 2020 race, Blaney exceled in a high-downforce car on a 60-degree day, where grip was maximized and drivers did not need to lift much. That won’t be the case this weekend with the Next Gen car.

It’s a stretch to imagine that Blaney sinks below Cindric, but the odds are too heavily in the favor of Blaney. Cindric has a win in the bank and can gamble all season because the rookie is locked into the playoffs. One gamble that Cindric and his crew chief will likely make is with the setup this weekend. Cindric cannot win this race on the long run. He’s not going to outrace the stars and veterans on a long green-flag run. However, he can win a shoot out at the end. Jeremy Bullins, Cindric’s crew chief, won several races with Brad Keselowski over the last two seasons by setting up for short runs and stealing wins from faster cars when late-race cautions changed the complexion of the race.

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Featured Matchup: Chase Briscoe vs. Bubba Wallace

Chase Briscoe (-160)

In the past, referencing Xfinity Series stats has widely been considered a bad strategy for making Cup Series bets and fantasy NASCAR picks. That might not be the case this season. NASCAR continued their seemingly endless strategy of tinkering with the product and unveiled the Next Gen car in February. This package features 670 horsepower and a four inch spoiler. With those specs, it’s not too different from the Xfinity Series package. In the last Xfinity Series race at Fontana, Briscoe’s average lap time was the fastest. He did not earn the finish his car deserved because he made a mistake on pit road early in the race and hit the wall too many times. His willingness to run the wall is intriguing from the outright win perspective (+5000), but in a head-to-head matchup, it is a little concerning. However, in a matchup with Bubba Wallace, it’s not too much of a concern.

Featured Matchup: Erik Jones vs. Daniel Suarez

Daniel Suarez (-130)

This is a strange “Featured Matchup.” Of all the drivers to choose from, this made the list? Jones is the better race car driver, but that doesn’t matter. Being an above-average driver is only half of the battle. Jones needs a fast car, and he does not have one. His RPM equipment was slow last season, and it’s likely going to be even slower this season. Richard Petty has struggled financially for years. Although the team carried the RPM logo, Petty was a minority owner and a team mascot more than he was the man in charge. Now, the team doesn’t even hide it anymore. They’ve dropped the charade. This is Petty GMS Motorsports.

Maurice Gallagher (CEO and Chairman of Allegiant Air) bought into the Cup Series, and he is following his previously unsuccessful game plan of expansion. This didn’t work in the Truck Series or the Xfinity Series, and now he will attempt the failed experiment again by adding Ty Dillon to a team that could not build one fast race car let alone two.

The odds should be strongly in Suarez’s favor, but his owners are not much better. The celebrity owners at Trackhouse Racing don’t seem to be invested in winning. This endeavor appears to be a diversification at best and at worst a reason to party at the track. It would be great if Trackhouse Racing were slowly building for the future and investing in speed, but one cannot help but get the feeling that this team is little more than an adventure in clout chasing and bragging about owning a professional team (with the proliferation of new stock car owners this season, thoughts of Tulip Mania come to mind).

With all of that being said, Jones had the better car at the high-horsepower, low-downforce race tracks last season. The problem with that generalization is that the stats mostly come from 750-package races at short tracks. There were several tracks that featured the low-downforce package and lean toward being an intermediate track — Darlington, Dover and Nashville. In those four races (two at Darlington), Jones had a Real Rating (my own statistical creation that weighs a driver’s average position along with the amount of laps led and laps driven inside the top 5, top 10, top 20, top 25 and top 30) of 0.43. Over the same four races in the Spring and Summer of 2021, Suarez had a Real Rating of 0.53 with strong performances at Dover (0.60) and Nashville (0.68).

Featured Matchup: William Byron vs. Alex Bowman

Alex Bowman (-110)

The 2020 Fontana race played out differently for the Hendrick teammates. Byron was decent but Bowman was great. During practice, Bowman’s car stood out as the clear favorite. When the race went green for long stretches, Bowman easily jumped to the lead and controlled the race (110 laps led and the win). Before this race, Bowman's only career win was at Chicago in 2019. Fontana and Chicago are both worn-out race tracks that challenge drivers. Both races were also on unseasonably cool days, and Bowman’s crew chief, Greg Ives, set up the car to take advantage of the increased grip due to the lower temperatures. NASCAR has changed the racing package, but that change will affect everyone. Even with the uncertainty of the changes, it is better to pick a driver that has experienced success at this unique race track than one that has not.

Place your NASCAR bets on DraftKings Sportsbook and bet online by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app.

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All betting odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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