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NASCAR Pick Sheet: Odds, Predictions & Best Bets

NASCAR Odds, Predictions & Best Bets For Ambetter Health 400

Pack Racing returns in Week 5 of the 2023 NASCAR Cup schedule. 

Atlanta Motor Speedway believes their fans want more of this style of racing, so they reconfigured and repaved what was previously a similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track and changed its characteristics so that we now classify it next to Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. As the surface ages, the complexion of the track will undoubtedly change and that means players and bettors need to be constantly alert for signs that the drafting packs are getting smaller.

Last year was the first time with the current configuration. Only two active drivers swept the top 10 in Atlanta’s two races with Ross Chastain finishing second in both and teammate Daniel Suarez recording a fourth in the spring and sixth in the fall. Chase Elliott finished sixth and first in those two races, but he is not in the lineup this week as he continues to recover from a broken leg. 

Other news impacting this week are the massive penalties imposed on all four Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) teams and one of their partners, Justin Haley. A 100-point fine and the deduction of 10 playoff points for the full-time drivers entered last week plunged the brigade to a points’ position that would put them in uncertain circumstances should all things remain the same until the playoffs. It’s likely that William Byron, Kyle Larson, and Alex Bowman will be highly motivated to earn maximum points and start their climb back toward the top 16.

It’s not exactly desperation that drives them, but pack racing is filled with enough anxiety already and nothing needs to be added.

NASCAR Picks For Ambetter Health 400

1. Ryan Blaney ⭐⭐⭐

DraftKings: Outright Win +1200

Consensus Odds*: +1150 | Best Odds: All but BetRivers +1200

When handicapping pack races, we often let the chips fall where they may and Blaney has one of the best average finishes on carburetor-restricted speedways in the past two years. He has not been perfect, but in seven races he has a worst result of 17th countered by three top-fives and an average of a little better than ninth. In the last four seasons, Blaney has won three pack races with the most recent coming in 2021 in the second Daytona event.

2. Ross Chastain ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DraftKings: Outright Win +1200

Consensus Odds*: +1200 | Best Odds: BetRivers +1300

Chastain was easily the strongest driver in Atlanta’s pair of 2022 races with second-place finishes behind Byron in the spring and Elliott in the fall. He was arguably stronger in Talladega with a win in the spring and fourth-place finish in the fall. Daytona is where he struggled, but this February he kept his car undamaged and got a top-10 there as well. Chastain is expensive in the DraftKings game, but there are enough bargain drivers available to make him an anchor. His consensus odds of 12/1 rank him sixth on that list.

3. Austin Cindric ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DraftKings: Outright Win +3000

Consensus Odds*: +2667 | Best Odds: DraftKings, FanDuel +3000

Cindric’s 2022 Daytona 500 win locked him into the playoffs and put him on a lot of players’ radars. ‘Big One’ accidents don’t discriminate, however, and Cindric lost his momentum in the next pack race when he was involved in a multi-car accident on Lap 200 of the QuikTrip 500. He settled for a 21st at Talladega in their spring race, but he rebounded in the second half of the season with third-place finishes in Atlanta 2 and Daytona 2 before ending the year with a ninth in ‘Dega. Given his long odds and modest salary cap, he is the best value this week. 

4. Bubba Wallace ⭐⭐⭐

DraftKings: Outright Win +2000

Consensus Odds*: +1967 | Best Odds: MGM +2200

Wallace remains one of the drivers near the top of the pack racing Pick Sheet because of historic results. Back-to-back second-place finishes in Daytona in 2021/2022 and a Talladega win prove he is more than capable of covering outright odds or those for a top-three finish bet, which is 6/1 on the DraftKings Sportsbook. He has not scored a top-10 in his last six pack races, but he has consistently been in the front half of the drafting pack and that means he can move forward in the frenetic final laps. 

5. Daniel Suarez ⭐⭐⭐

DraftKings: Outright Win +2500

Consensus Odds*: +2483 | Best Odds: BetRivers +3000

Teamwork doesn’t always work in pack races. But it only needs to work occasionally to make it a factor in carburetor-restricted speedway handicaps because a dedicated partner can keep drivers from falling out of the draft. Suarez’s fourth-place finish in this race last year contributes to a pattern of strong runs on this track type in which he netted a 0.500 result for top-10s. He tacked on a seventh-place finish in the 2023 Daytona 500 to give him a positive record. 

6. Alex Bowman ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DraftKings: Outright Win +1800

Consensus Odds*: +1608 | Best Odds: FanDuel +2000

NASCAR’s penalty levied against Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) for improperly adjusting their hood louvres in Phoenix dropped Bowman from having the most championship points to placing him on the cusp of 30th. The first goal will be to create some separation from that border because even drivers with wins must be in the top 30 to qualify for the playoffs. No one doubts all three of the penalized Hendrick drivers will emerge from the basement, but there is still the unknown of how many unique winners there will be in the first 26 races. Last year, only one driver qualified on points. 

7. Martin Truex Jr. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DraftKings: Outright Win +2500

Consensus Odds*: +2333 | Best Odds: BetRivers +2800

Truex was one of our drivers to avoid for many years on plate tracks. He had the speed, but his luck was abysmal and he was collected in ‘Big One’ crashes triggered by other competitors far too often for comfort. That changed in fall 2021 at Talladega when Truex broke back into the top 15 with a 12th-place finish. Since then, he has scored one top-five, two more top-10s, and been outside the top 15 only one time in eight races. It does not make him the favorite this week, but it suggests he will be in the top 10 mix in the final laps if his luck holds. 

8. Michael McDowell ⭐⭐⭐

DraftKings: Outright Win +6000

Consensus Odds*: +5333 | Best Odds: DraftKings, BetRivers +6000

With 60/1 odds, it’s worth digging through the couch cushions to find some spare change for a roll of the dice on McDowell. Front Row Motorsports has a solid plate program and it was not completely surprising to see McDowell win the 2021 Daytona 500 or finish third in the spring Talladega race that season. Last year, this team scored three top-10s in pack races, but a word of caution is required because none of those came at Atlanta. With a price tag of $5,700 in the DraftKings fantasy game, however, he is an anchor for players who build their lineups from the top down.

9. Kyle Busch ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DraftKings: Outright Win +1000

Consensus Odds*: +1050 | Best Odds: MGM, FanDuel +1200

Busch continues to ride a wave of enthusiasm from his Auto Club Speedway win. We’re not ready to say that was a fluke, but it was not typical of the current ability of Richard Childress Racing (RCR) as it is the only top-five for either Busch or Austin Dillon in eight starts in 2023. Anything can happen on plate tracks, but over the past seven races, Busch finished outside the top 15 more often than inside that mark and none of his strong runs came at Atlanta. Ranked third in consensus odds, Busch is just too risky without enough upside.

10. Justin Haley ⭐⭐⭐

DraftKings: Outright Win +6000

Consensus Odds*: +5333 | Best Odds: DraftKings, Caesars +6000

Haley has odds similar to McDowell and he also has a plate win to his credit. That victory came under radically different circumstances in a race shortened by rain moments after the rest of the field pitted, but luck plays a huge role in success or failure on this course type. Moreover, Haley was consistent in pack races last year with four top-15s in six races. His luck ran out at Daytona this spring, but bettors who believe he is due might spring for a top-five bet this week at 8/1 on the DraftKings Sportsbook.

* Consensus odds at the average of five sportsbooks: DraftKings, PointsBet, BetMGM, Caesars, and BetRivers.