NASCAR betting has gone mainstream. Its first big play was a milestone deal with Genius Sports in 2019. Under the agreement, the sports data company became an exclusive provider of NASCAR data to licensed sportsbooks.
The deal allows people to place various bets, including traditional wagers and props, on races. Here’s how and where to bet on NASCAR in Maryland.
Best online sportsbooks for NASCAR odds
Marquee NASCAR races to bet on
NASCAR has a very brief offseason. The racing schedule kicks off in February with the Daytona 500 and culminates with the NASCAR Cup Series Championship in November. In total, there are 36 races, some of which attract massive attention among casual fans and sports bettors alike. Here are the biggest:
- Daytona 500: Taking place at Daytona International Speedway in Florida, this is NASCAR’s crown jewel and the season-opener to the NASCAR Cup Series. Of all the races on the calendar, the Daytona 500 carries by far the largest purse: The winner goes home with more than $2 million in prize money.
- Coca-Cola 600: Formerly known as the World 600, the Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race on NASCAR’s schedule by 100 miles. The race takes place in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
- Brickyard 400: In terms of prestige and significance, the Brickyard 400 is second only to the Daytona 500. Prominent drivers who’ve won the Brickyard 400 include Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt. Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts the race every year.
- Southern 500: Staged at Darlington Raceway, the Southern 500 serves as one of NASCAR’s majors. Jeff Gordon has the most career wins with six.
- NASCAR Cup Series Championship: The season builds up to the 10-race finale, which crowns the NASCAR Cup champion. Fans of the sport can bet on the winner of each of the races as well as the overall winner.
How to read NASCAR betting odds
One thing that sets NASCAR apart from many other major sports is that each event features 40 potential winners. Unlike major sports in which you place a moneyline bet or spread bet, or try to predict whether the total score goes over or under a specific line, NASCAR involves picking which driver will win or perform well in a given race.
The books usually release NASCAR race odds a few weeks leading up to the event, though they may add additional wagers later on. Here is a rundown of the most common options:
You wager on a driver to win the race outright. The options on which to bet will include all the drivers from the field, and the payout for your bet will depend on the odds at the time of the wager.
In almost every case, the drivers will have positive odds. The top dogs may be around +250 on more predictable tracks but can go as high as +900 on teeter-totter races. The favorites will be at the top of the odds board, followed by underdogs and long shots. Here’s how it typically looks:
Top three/top five bets
Choosing an outright winner in a competitive sport such as NASCAR is by no means an easy task. To remove a portion of the risk, you can also wager on a driver to finish in the top three or top five instead of winning. The odds are in the same format as betting on the winner of the race:
Obviously, the starting positions of the cars can impact the race, giving drivers an advantage or disadvantage. With some Maryland online sportsbooks, you’ll be able to bet on the pole sitter. Here’s how the field for pole position bets will appear on the boards:
If you don’t want to wager on someone to win the race, you can try to predict which driver will record the fastest lap. This is one of the most popular side bets and usually appears in the props section at NASCAR betting sites. You may see odds like this:
With head-to-head props, the sportsbook will match up two drivers, and you have to choose which of them finishes higher. The payouts for this type of bet are on the lower side, compared to the previously mentioned bets. The underdog in the matchup will have a plus sign, and the favorite will have a minus sign, resembling moneyline betting in team sports:
Hamlin is the favorite at -130, meaning you’d have to put $130 on him to win $100 in profit. Larson is coming in as a +120 underdog, meaning that he can land you a $120 profit on a $100 bet, should he outperform his rival.
A variation of head-to-head bets is group betting, in which you select which driver will finish ahead of the rest out of three or four choices.
Betting on NASCAR futures
If you want to spice things up and chase the big bucks, futures are an option. These long-term wagers are much trickier than your garden variety bets because there is much more volatility throughout the season.
Futures odds appear before the beginning of the season and update throughout the year. The prices can get worse as the season plays out, so locking in your picks early may bring you better value.
Here are some examples from the NASCAR futures department:
- Championship winner
- To finish in the top four
- All-star race winner
- Driver with the most wins in the season
Prop bets for NASCAR races
For more significant NASCAR races, such as the Daytona 500, the sportsbooks will expand their betting portfolios and add a few specials or race props that aren’t typically available. These bets tend to be based on a side element of the race rather than the drivers’ overall performances.
Here are some common examples of props for NASCAR that you might find on the top Maryland betting apps, such as:
- Number of crashes — Bet on how many crashes will occur in the race.
- Which manufacturer will win — Instead of picking the winning driver straight up, you select which team the winner will come from. You might see odds such as Ford +220, Toyota +270, and Chevrolet +300.
- Number of lead changes — The sportsbook sets a line for the total number of lead changes in a race. It’s up to you to decide whether the threshold is too high or too low.
- Number of caution flags — This bet is another over/under. Predict whether the total number of caution flags will be higher or lower than what the sportsbook has set for the race.
- Number of cars finishing the race — Place a bet on how many drivers will make it to the finish line.
NASCAR live betting
Similar to sports leagues such at the NBA and the NFL, NASCAR also allows you to place bets on the event after it has already started. As the race takes place, the odds will shift to reflect what is happening on the track.
Live NASCAR betting took off with the Genius Sports deal. The partnership saw the books get an all-access pass to the sanctioning body’s up-to-the-minute data feed, resulting in all kinds of props being available while the race is going on.
Typically, the best time to strike is when a top driver gets off to a poor start. The live odds could shift rapidly in a NASCAR race, so you have to be on the ball to get the value you want.
Who sets the NASCAR odds?
Experienced oddsmakers will analyze a variety of factors and create betting lines hoping to predict the action across the board. Depending on race results, weather, and track conditions, the initial lines at online sportsbooks will often shift from when the sportsbook posted them to when the race begins.
The books typically release odds for weekend races early in the week. Odds for top-tier events often appear weeks in advance, whereas future odds for the upcoming season are up right after the final race.
Sportsbook rules for NASCAR betting
Like other sports, NASCAR is subject to a few house rules at online sportsbooks in Maryland. Here are some key ones:
- If a race is canceled or postponed for some reason, the wagers remain active for 48 hours.
- Both drivers in a head-to-head wager must start the race for the bet to be valid.
- If rain suspends the qualifying round, the sportsbook will cancel and refund all qualifying bets.
While most rules are consistent throughout all major sportsbooks, you may encounter some anomalies now and then. Therefore, it’s a good idea to review the rules before placing a bet with your chosen sportsbook.
Why opt for NASCAR betting?
The biggest draw of NASCAR betting lies in the competitive nature of the sport. Although favorites typically perform well, the races are even enough so that just about anyone has a chance to win.
More so than any other sport, NASCAR frequently introduces rules to level the playing field. Take the 2020 Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, where Cole Custer pulled off a major upset, winning the race as a +25000 long shot.
NASCAR remains active nearly all year long, with races happening pretty much every week from February through November. This provides you with a lot of opportunities to wager on the racing action.