The new rules package is the talk of the town in Las Vegas as the Cup Series drivers get ready for the Pennzoil 400. Before that race takes place on Sunday, the Xfinity Series guys will get to burn some rubber on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway track in the Boyd Gaming 300. There’s only one problem. Kyle Busch is in the field this week and he is the odds-on favorite at -115 over the rest of the drivers. Will somebody step up and slay Goliath on the 1.5-mile loop off of I-15, or will the heavy favorite take the checkered flag in his 2019 Xfinity Series debut. Odds from 5Dimes Sportsbook are on the right for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers as we sink our teeth into the Boyd Gaming 300.
The House Edge
This is a really interesting race weekend. New rules packages have created some different aerodynamics for the cars and trucks that will be running around the track this weekend. As mentioned in our preview for the Pennzoil 400, some drivers have a little bit more experience with the new cars and how they will handle than others. By the time these races go off, everybody should be on fairly equal footing thanks to practice runs and qualifying, but handicapping is about acquiring and processing information. Ryan Preece would have been a good look for this race, but he is not running full-time and this is one of the races he is not running. Ross Chastain and Austin Dillon are the only lined drivers that participated in the test runs back on January 31 and February 1. Perhaps that gives them a little bit of an advantage in the field this week. Dillon is +2150 and Chastain is a very long shot at +55000. Dillon actually won this race back in 2015. He was 12th in his only Las Vegas start at this level last year.
Head for the Mountains
Of Bussssssssssch. Kyle Busch only won once last year in the Xfinity Series, but it wasn’t from lack of trying. He led the most laps at Charlotte, Michigan, and Kentucky without a win. His only victory came at Pocono. He also had a stage win at Phoenix. Busch was 14th in this race last year. Last season’s performance was a far cry from 2017, when Busch ran 10 races, won five, had stage wins in two others, and led the most laps in two others that he failed to win. There’s a reason why he’s -115 this week. It is worth noting that this will be Busch’s first Xfinity Series run of the season and Toyota is using the Supra instead of the Camry at the Xfinity Series level. You may want to see how the qualifying and practice times go for Busch with the different model.
Answering the Bell
It was a clean sweep last week at Atlanta for Christopher Bell, who led the most laps and won all three stages in the Rinnai 250. Despite the dominant performance, Bell only owns a four-point lead over Brandon Jones, who was third at Daytona in the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 and fourth last week. Justin Allgaier was second in the opener and third last week in Hampton, Georgia. Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer round out the top five. Michael Annett won the first race of the season, but finished 12th last week and sits eighth in points. Justin Haley and Ross Chastain have the other stage wins. When there are a limited number of Cup drivers or none at all, Bell is going to be the guy to beat. He won seven times last year. He was second in this race and fourth in the second race. Allgaier joined him in the top five last year, as well as Elliott Sadler, who retired prior to the season. Allgaier was second in the summer race. As far as answering the bell, it looks like Allgaier at +750 has the best chance to do it.
Custer’s First Stand
Was last week a sign of good things to come for Cole Custer? He qualified with the pole position and wound up finishing second to Bell last week. As a second-year driver last season, Custer didn’t score his first top-five finish until Texas and didn’t have another one until the first visit to Charlotte. He was third in the summer race at LVMS last season. Could last week’s performance be the precursor to a good early start for the Gene Haas racing team member? Beginning with that top-five finish at Charlotte in the spring, Custer added 12 more, including a win in the playoff race at Texas. At +750, you can basically take your pick between Custer and Allgaier to see if one of those two gentlemen can knock off Busch or Bell.
Long Shots?
When Busch and Bell are in a race, betting on long shots is hard. The longest shot with a real chance is probably Austin Dillon at +2150. Realistically, going down the board past Allgaier and Custer is probably a fool’s errand. Keep an eye out for Brandon Jones as the season goes along, though. Jones is one of the Toyota drivers getting used to a Supra for this season and he’s picked up two top-five finishes already.
There isn’t a ton of equity in taking a -115 favorite in a stock car race, as anything can happen and the new rules package is supposed to bunch the drivers up and create some more exciting racing. With that in mind, looking at Allgaier and/or Custer is a decent way to approach this race, with some really cheap Molson Ice kind of money on Austin Dillon as a long shot contender.