The 10th running of the Quaker State 400 goes down at the esteemed Kentucky Speedway this Sunday, July 12.
With the NASCAR Cup Series playoff picture beginning to take shape, there will be a number of drivers looking to push themselves into guaranteed playoff slots with a visit to Victory Lane.
You can find the odds for all the usual suspects over at the top NASCAR betting sites. Having spent a little time acquainting myself with the bookies’ opinion on things, I’ve got a few value bets that you might want to look at.
There are five NASCAR Quaker State 400 sleepers that I really like the look of ahead of this weekend’s race, and I’ve picked them out for you below.
Kurt Busch +2000
Guess who won the 2019 Quaker State 400? Yup, that’s right.
Busch hit victory lane with the confidence of a winner that day but has failed to take the checkered flag since. However, he has nailed three top fives and eight top tens this season, including 3rd in Fontana and Darlington.
Busch hasn’t quite cut the mustard in his last three races, finishing 18th, 13th, and 13th at Pocono and Indianapolis, respectively. But I wouldn’t feel right about completely disregarding his chances here on Sunday.
The Kentucky Speedway has hosted just nine Cup Series races. In that timeframe, we have had five winners, including Kurt. Brad Keselowski (3), Kurt’s brother Kyle (2), Martin Truex Jr. (2), and Matt Kenseth are the others. Only Kurt Busch and Kenseth have failed to become a multiple-race winner.
Needless to say, Kurt would love to put that right this Sunday at Kentucky. There will be a number of other drivers who feel as though they have a better chance of taking the checkered flag, but Busch won’t be worried about that one bit.
Busch’s odds are long, and not a great deal is expected of him. But can he upset the applecart? He finished 6th and 4th in 2016, so is certainly worth a crack at a top-five finish, at very least. His average finish here is 10.78.
Aric Almirola +2800
Starting 4th on the grid is Aric Almirola, who I tipped to do well last weekend at Indianapolis.
Anyone who took my advice to back Almirola for a third-place finish would have bagged themselves a cool +900 for their troubles. I also nailed Harvick to win the race, so it was a good day all around for me and my crystal ball.
Anyway, that was last weekend, so it’s time to focus on what the Stewart Haas Racing star can do on Sunday.
But that’s not to discount his recent form, of course. In short, Almirola is showing really encouraging signs as of late, with a record of 5th, 3rd, 3rd, 5th, and 3rd from his last five starts in 2020’s Cup Series. Can he do better and clinch the win this Sunday?
Well, I think he is arguably the best Quaker State 400 longshot bet. Odds of +2800 on a guy in such a rich vein of form are very good, and looking at that price, he is still flying under the radar with the bookies and betting public.
As for his record at Kentucky? Well, it’s not great. His best return here was 8th in 2018, and his average finish at the track is 19.14 from seven starts.
Weighing everything up, this stat could be deceiving. I mean, his average finish at Indianapolis was 21.25 from eight races, and we all saw what he did there. Prior to Saturday’s race at Pocono, he placed 12th, 10th, 25th, 7th, and 38th, yet took 3rd and 5th in last weekend’s races.
Consider this guy for a top-three finish, at very least. If you have a couple of dollars to spare, maybe even back him for the win.
Erik Jones +2800
Jones has just three starts under his belt at Kentucky, meaning that it is difficult to really gauge how well he performs on this track. The majority of his peers will have raced here nine times, if you care for that stat.
Anyway, what is encouraging here is that Jones placed third in 2019, having registered a 7th and 6th place finish in 2018 and 2019, respectively. That gives him an average finish of 5.33, which looks very pretty, even when you consider his limited experience.
Jones will likely be a future multiple Cup Series winner and is showing very encouraging signs. Even if he hasn’t won a race since Darlington last year, he is good for at least one checkered flag in 2020, and this could be his day.
Jones registered a DNF at Indianapolis last week, which was his second in three races. Sandwiched in between those is a third-place finish in Sunday’s race at Pocono, which is worth taking on board.
Steady but far from stellar in this season’s campaign, Jones is well worth considering for a top five finish here. Or, if you’re feeling brave, you might even take him for the win.
William Byron +3300
With five top tens and zero top-fives so far, Byron is not championed by the betting public for Sunday’s Quaker State 400. But I’m not ready to write him off.
You can get odds of +3300 on Byron winning the race, which is not bad. But I would be leaning towards him cracking the top five if I were you. The youngster is still in the playoff picture and will be keen to keep things that way.
Byron has just two starts at Kentucky. He bettered a debut season finish of 20th in 2018 with a slightly better 18th in 2019. Since then, he has gained much more experience at a high level and could be worth a punt.
I’ll leave it there with Byron.
Matt Kenseth +5000
The winner of 2013’s Quaker State 400 comes in at surprisingly beefy odds. You can get +5000 on Kenseth to win the 2020 version of this race, which will attract some coinage.
The veteran finished 2nd at the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 last weekend at Indianapolis and will harbor ambitions of upsetting the apple cart this Sunday. That result beat his previous best of the year, which was 10th at Darlington in his first Cup Series race since replacing Kyle Larson.
Kesenth’s odds to win the Quaker State 400 make him a wild underdog, sure, but last weekend’s performance will have gotten some folk thinking. Can he pull off the win at Kentucky again? If he does, and you have a couple of dollars down on that happening, you’ll be a very happy gentleman/lady.
The Chip Ganassi man’s record at Kentucky makes for interesting reading. Since winning at Kentucky in 2013, he has finished 4th, 5th, 8th, 17th, and 19th, respectively. A downward trajectory declining every year.
That said, his average finish of 8.38 is nothing to sniff at. Is there life in the old dog yet?
Five Quaker State 400 sleepers make five chances for you to make some money on the NASCAR race this Sunday. Naturally, there are no guarantees that any guy will make the top five, top ten, or even top twenty — but then again, one of them could win it.
That’s betting for you, right? Even so, a little luck is always welcome.
Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA and boxing.
A self-confessed sports fanatic, when Adam is not watching and writing about rugby, soccer, Gaelic Games, and F1, he can often be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.
For his troubles, Adam is a big fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.