Six years ago, in late July 2016, Chris Buescher, a long shot in NASCAR betting, emerged from the fog and rain at Pocono Raceway to win the weather-shortened Pennsylvania 400, his first career Cup Series victory.
It was the first win for a first-time winner since August 2014, snapping a drought of 70 races. And it was just the third trip to the winner’s circle for a first-timer winner since 2011. In nearly 200 races from mid-2011 through mid-2016, there were only three first-time Cup Series winners.
There have been three first-time Cup Series winners in three road-course races in 2022 – plus another two first-time winners on oval tracks.
“It was a huge sense of relief,” Tyler Reddick said four weeks ago after outlasting Chase Elliott in the Kwik Trip 250 at Road America for his first win, echoing a sentiment expressed by Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez, whose first wins also came on road tracks this season.
As of Thursday, 10 winless NASCAR Cup Series drivers are on the entry list for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, the fourth of six road races on the 2022 schedule. Unlike most of the first-time winners this year, all 10 are buried in NASCAR odds.
Back to the Bricks 😘🧱
— Indianapolis Motor Speedway (@IMS) July 27, 2022
No winless driver has better odds than +50000, miles behind the favorites Chase Elliott (+450), Kyle Larson (+700), and Chastain (+700), second-tier drivers like Reddick (+1000) and Chase Briscoe (+1600), and even long shots like Austin Dillon (+12500) and Aric Almirola (+1500).
The odds say we’re running out of first-time winners, as does the public – no winless driver has more than 1.6% of the race-winner tickets or 0.5% of the race-winner handle – and zero winless drivers are included in this week’s featured matchups at BetMGM:
Ross Chastain (-225) vs. Denny Hamlin (+170)
Ross Chastain’s six-race top-8 streak was snapped with a 32nd-place finish last weekend, but the 29-year-old winner of the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix remained No. 2 in Pat DeCola’s NASCAR Power Rankings and remains a threat at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Chastain is seeking a third win this season – after opening his career with a 119-race winless streak – as his opponent Denny Hamlin, whom he battled at Pocono. The public likes Hamlin’s plus odds in this featured matchup; he has 94% of the handle against Chastain.
Chase Elliott (-155) vs. Kyle Larson (+120)
Chase Elliott’s career average road-course finish is 7.5. No other active driver is better than 12.
Elliott is 0-for-3 in road races this year but still has three more career road wins (seven) than any other active driver. He’s also tied with Kyle Busch for the most laps led despite 22 fewer starts – Elliott ranks 18th in road starts among active drivers – and has the best top-5 and top-10 finishing rates (59% and 73%, respectively).
The public is pounding Elliott in both race-winner betting and featured matchup betting. He has more than 40% of the race-winner handle (on 16% of tickets) and 95% of the featured matchup handle against Denny Hamlin (on 92% of the tickets).
Chase Briscoe (-120) vs. Martin Truex Jr. (-110)
Martin Truex Jr.’s win in the 2016 Coca-Cola 600 was the first of 28 wins over approximately five years. He won roughly once every seven starts over that time.
Now, Truex and his No. 19 Toyota can’t find wins anywhere. His seventh-place finish at Pocono extended a winless drought to 29 races, his longest since 2015-16.
And Truex isn’t a popular pick to end the drought on Sunday; only 0.6% of the handle (on 2% of the tickets) is on him to win, though he is drawing 83% of the handle against Chase Briscoe, who has just one top-10 in his last 13 starts after opening the season with three in his first eight starts.
Tyler Reddick (-155) vs. Ryan Blaney (+120)
Thanks to his win at Road America, Tyler Reddick suddenly ranks seventh in average road-course finish among active drivers. And his top-10 finish rate (50%) ranks fourth to only Elliott, Kyle Busch (55%), and Blaney (55%), the latter of whom he’s facing in the least-experienced featured matchup this weekend.
Despite the recent road-course success, Reddick is buried in race-winner ticket (2.3%) and handle (0.9%) share. Nonetheless, he’s a popular pick to finish ahead of Blaney; he has 91% of the head-to-head handle.
You can view updated Verizon 200 at the Brickyard odds and more online sports betting opportunities at the BetMGM online sportsbook.