Your betting guide to NASCAR's return at Darlington Raceway

Betting on NASCAR is a risky proposition. All it takes is a pit road penalty or an unavoidable crash up ahead to ruin a driver’s chances at a win or a top-three finish.

It’s far easier to bet against the spread in a football or basketball game. After all, it’s a 50-50 proposition in a head-to-head matchup. There are 40 cars entered in Sunday’s Cup Series race.

But if the driver you bet on wins, the payoff is pretty good. Defending Cup champion Kyle Busch is the favorite on Sunday and his odds are +500. Whether you’re looking to bet on NASCAR for the first time or ready to bet on a NASCAR race for the fifth time this season, here’s who you should consider putting your money on at BetMGM and who you should avoid betting on.

(Odds provided by BetMGM)

[The starving sports fan’s guide to NASCAR]

Bet

Erik Jones +1500

Jones is the defending winner at Darlington and is just the ninth-best favorite on the board and is fourth among the four drivers at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Jones has finished in the top 10 in each of his three starts at Darlington and was fifth in his first Cup start in 2017. He’s also worth taking a flyer on at +375 for a top-three finish. There are far worse bets you can make than betting on Jones on Sunday.

Ryan Blaney +2200

Blaney’s history at Darlington isn’t that great. His best finish across five Cup Series starts is just 13th and he’s finished 30th or worse twice. But his odds are so high that he’s worth the risk for Sunday’s race. Blaney has been fast with new crew chief Todd Gordon and there’s no reason to expect that speed to disappear with the long layoff. Blaney is going to win sooner rather than later this season, and why not at Darlington?

Ryan Preece +50000

OK, this is a bet that very likely isn’t going to pay off. But if you’re looking to bet on a longshot, look no further than Preece. Yes, he’s in midpack equipment and yes, he has just one top-10 finish in his career outside of Daytona and Talladega. But he finished 22nd in his only start at Darlington last year and who knows, the race could end up being decided in a fuel-strategy run to the finish.

For context on why this is the best longshot bet you can place, Preece’s odds are higher than Quin Houff and the same as Corey LaJoie, Joey Gase and Brennan Poole. All four of those drivers are in far worse equipment than Preece and wouldn’t be worth betting on if their odds were +1000000.

Don’t bet

Matt Kenseth +2000

This is a name recognition bet for people and nothing more. Kenseth hasn’t been in a Cup Series car since 2018 and won’t have any chance to practice or qualify before the first lap of Sunday’s race. That’s not a great recipe for success.

We’re not ruling out a win for Kenseth this season — crazier things have happened in NASCAR — but thinking he’s worth betting on, especially at this number, in his first race back in nearly two seasons is a fool’s errand.

William Byron +2500

Byron was dominant during the iRacing series that took the place of real racing during the coronavirus hiatus. But he’s still searching for his first Cup Series win and it’s hard to see it happening at Darlington. Byron has finished 35th and 21st in his only two Cup starts at the track.

Anyone at +10000

The list of drivers at +10000 includes Cole Custer, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, Tyler Reddick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ty Dillon. None of them are likely to win on Sunday.

Custer looks like the favorite of the group; he’s in the best equipment by far. It’s Newman’s first race back since his horrific Daytona crash and while he could easily get a top-15 finish, he’s not likely to contend for the win. 

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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