NASCAR betting odds: Richmond is first of three short straight stretches for Cup Series

NASCAR’s short track season is here.

Sunday’s Richmond race (3:30pm ET, FS1) is the first short track race of the season and the first of three consecutive short track races. After Richmond, the Cup Series heads to Bristol for a dirt run and then to Martinsville.

All three tracks are very different and Richmond hasn’t ridden like a typical short track in quite some time. Warnings are in short supply and the spring race a year ago turned into a tire strategy race.

Six of the last seven races at Richmond included only five caution flags and the other had only three cautions. Considering that two of these bookings are pre-scheduled for the ends of the first two stages, this means we can expect around three natural bookings on Sunday.

Kyle Larson, William Byron and Denny Hamlin are among the top six favorites to win Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race in Richmond. (Photo by Jared C Tilton/Getty Images)

Last spring’s 400-lap race had five cautions and 151 green flags to start stage two and 137 laps to finish the race after a three-car crash on the backstretch. With the significant tire drop on the track and numerous ruts in the corners, Denny Hamlin passed William Byron with six laps to go to take the win. Hamlin worked his way through the field after a late pit stop, using his fresher tires to gain time and pass Byron at the front.

Not entirely coincidental, Byron and Hamlin are among the two favorites to win on Sunday. So does Kevin Harvick, the driver who won at Richmond in August. Here’s what you need to know to bet on the race. All odds are from BetMGM.

The favourites

  • William Byron (+500)

  • Kevin Harvick (+600)

  • Kyle Larson (+600)

  • Christopher Bell (+800)

  • Denny Hamlin (+900)

  • Martin Truex Jr (+900)

Byron has just one top-five finish from nine starts at Richmond but has been the fastest rider so far this season. Harvick finished second in the spring race a year ago before winning the summer race. It’s perfect for the tire management style needed at Richmond. Larson’s only win at Richmond came in 2017 and he has finished in the top 20 in each of his last five starts at the track.

Bell leads the Gibbs brigade in odds and average score. Bell has the best average result (6.0) of any driver in his five starts, despite not winning. Hamlin has four wins in 32 starts and 21 top 10 finishes, while Truex has three wins and 16 top 10 finishes in 33 starts. He’s our pick to win.

Good mid-range value

  • Ross Chastain (+1800)

  • Tyler Reddick (+1800)

Chasten has finished 18th and 19th in his two Richmond races for Trackhouse, although he finished seventh in the second race in 2021 while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. Reddick didn’t finish in the top 10 at Richmond, but he has four top 20 finishes in five starts.

Don’t bet on this driver

Blaney is heading in the right direction at Richmond, although his history on track makes us hesitate this weekend. He has three top 10 finishes in 13 starts and they have all come in his last three starts. His best career finish at the track is seventh.

Looking for a long shot?

We’ve already said that about Cindric, but those odds for a rider in good gear are worth the flyer. At the last race in Richmond he was twelfth.

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