While most sports bettors know that betting flexibility is super important for long-term profitability, many don’t realize that it exists in the world of auto racing. Sure, everyone knows that you can bet on who is going to win the race and who is going to win the end of season championship, but did you know that there are a whole host of other bets at your disposal?
These bets are important because they not only give you more chances to win and more chances to capitalize on your predictions, but they can also do wonders in lowering the variance that is typically quite high in auto racing betting. If you’re only betting on race winners, you can experience some long cold streaks because it’s tough to pick one person to win a race out of a field of 20, 30 or 40+ drivers.
But, with these bets, you have a lot more options to win which means more action and less variance thanks to the nature of some of these bets. In this guide, we’re going to introduce you to all of the different types of auto racing bets available. Most of these bets are going to be available in all the major series including NASCAR, F1, Indy Car, and more.
Before we dive into the bets that you might not be aware of, we need to make sure that everyone is on the same page with the most popular auto racing bet type – the to-win bet. Sometimes this is referred to as a win bet or an outright win bet, and sometimes it’s just called “betting on the race.” Basically, this is the default bet that most people associated with auto racing wagering.
With a to-win bet, all you have to do is pick the driver that you think is going to win the race. If that driver is victorious, you win your bet. If they finish in 2nd place or any other position, you lose this bet. It does not matter the nature of the race or how the driver wins (outside of cheating, of course). It doesn’t matter if they led every lap or didn’t lead a single one until the last lap. All that matters for a to-win bet in auto racing is that the driver takes the checkered flag in 1st place and goes to victory lane.
One thing that is important to point out is that each driver will not pay out the same amount of profit on a to-win bet. If this were the case, then everyone would just bet the driver who is favored to win and the sportsbook would go bankrupt after just a few races. Instead, the sportsbooks pay more money on drivers that are less likely to win the race.
Additionally, these lines are swayed based on how the betting public is betting. If there is heavy betting on a particular driver, you can expect the potential profits offered on that driver to go down and the potential profits on other drivers to go up.
Now, you can expect to get better than even money on every driver in a race including the favorite. In most major sports, you’ll see at least +150 or +250 for the favorite to win. This means that you’re going to get paid better than even money no matter who you decide to bet on. It also means that you can place multiple to-win bets and still turn a profit as long as one of the drivers you selected to win wins.
If you’d like to learn more about to-win bets and more specifically how they pay out and how you can look to maximize your profits with betting lines, check out our Moneyline Betting page that is an awesome and valuable read.
In some racing formats, there are stages of the race where competition is stopped. The most notable of this is NASCAR where there are two initial stages and then a final stage that ends with the finish of the race. At online sportsbooks with great auto racing action, you will be able to bet on who the different stage winners are. In NASCAR, you can bet on the winners of the first two stages. You can bet on the winner of the final stage, but that’s just the race winner so you’d place a to-win bet.
These wagers operate just like a to-win bet except that they are decided at various points throughout the race. It’s a great way to get some action that is decided before the race is over and a great opportunity for sharp racing bettors to make additional cash.
One of our favorite auto racing bets you can make is the matchup bet. This is a bet that allows you to focus on just two drivers and lower your betting variance. These bets are sometimes available in brick and mortar locations but usually in limited quantity and only on major racing events like the Daytona 500 or the Indy 500. Online, though, you will have a lot more options to choose from, and you will see them on the “regular” races as well.
So, what is a matchup bet? A matchup bet is a racing wager where the sportsbook will pick two drivers, and you have to decide which driver you think is going to finish better than the other driver. It doesn’t matter how the rest of the field does or how these two drivers do compared to them. All that matters is which driver finishes in front of the other one.
In fact, the drivers don’t even have to finish the race. If Driver A crashes on Lap 1 and Driver B crashes on Lap 2, technically Driver B is going to finish higher than Driver A which means a matchup bet on Driver B would be a winner. They could literally take the last two spots in the field, and you would still win your bet as long as you correctly picked which driver finishes ahead of the other.
As you’re now just picking one of two selections instead of one out of the entire field, it’s a lot easier to win these bets. Well, it’s still challenging to pick winners, but your variance is going to be much lower with these bets.
Do also keep in mind that you will see varying payout levels on each driver. Sometimes you will have drivers who are equal and pay out the same, but usually one of the drivers will be a favorite, and one will be an underdog. Just make sure that you look at this before you place your wager and you’re happy with the risk versus the reward.
Another popular auto racing bet is the pole position bet. As you might be able to guess, this is a bet on who is going to have the fastest qualifying time and start first (known as the pole position). This bet is a fun one as it allows you to get some action on the books earlier in the race week as the pole position is decided before the race and usually earlier in the week (sometimes day of, though).
As is the case with every other bet we’ve talked about so far, there will be odds for each driver on their likelihood of securing the pole position. Keep in mind when you’re making this bet that the drivers are not running in race conditions but are running the track by themselves. Some drivers are much better at putting up impressive lap times and speeds when they’re running alone and don’t have to contend with traffic.
The podium finish bet in auto racing is a wager where you pick a driver to finish in the top three. As long as they get first, second, or third you’ll win your podium finish bet. You do not receive any additional money if they finish in first instead of third or second; the payouts are exactly the same as long as they secure one of those three spots.
If you do want to get paid extra for a win, you could always place a podium bet and a to-win bet. Make sure you check out the math, though, just so you know exactly how much you’ll win in each scenario. For example, if you do this and the driver gets second, you will get paid on your podium bet, but you will lose your to-win bet. Just make sure you’re okay with the profit numbers before you employ this strategy.
You’ll see varying odds on different drivers for the podium finish bet based on their likelihood of finishing in the top three. You also might not see this bet available for every driver in the field, but that depends on the sportsbook you’re betting at and what they choose to offer. This bet is most popular in F1 and Indy Car, but we do occasionally see it in some of the other racing organizations.
An auto racing futures bet is a wager on something that will happen in the future and is usually not going to be decided by just one race. The most common form of auto racing futures bet is a bet on the season-ending champion. In some organizations, you can also bet on things like who will make the playoffs or who will win the season-end owner’s championship. It all just depends on the makeup of the organization. Basically, any sort of season-end award or exclusiveness that can be reached (like making the playoffs), usually has a futures bet available for it.
Most people make their futures bets at the beginning of the racing season, but they can be made at any point during the season except while a current race is in progress. The odds will get pulled as soon as the race starts and then released again sometime after the race concludes and they adjust the odds based on the race outcome.
Do keep in mind that the odds will shift based on how the season is going and who is winning races. If a racer starts to win a lot of races and gets closer to being able to win the championship, you can expect the payout odds to go down on that driver and the odds on the other drivers who are now less likely to win to go up. The idea with auto racing futures bets is to try and buy as low as possible and cash in when they win.
You can also hedge these bets when the season gets later if you want to lock up some profit. This is how you buy low and sell high with auto racing futures bets. If you want to learn more about hedging your bets, check out our Hedge Your Bets guide for a complete breakdown and step by step guide.
One of the things that we love about auto racing bets is they are named so conveniently where you always know what you’re betting on. The fastest lap bet is a bet where you bet on the driver who is going to have the fastest lap. It’s really that simple. It does not matter if the driver you pick wins the race, has a great finish, or crashes halfway through. As long as they record the fastest lap of any driver during the race, you win your bet.
You will see different odds for each driver as expected based on their likelihood of putting up the fast lap time. Keep in mind that this is not an average of all of their laps, but it’s just the fastest single lap from any point of the race. It also does not matter what the track record is or what happened in any past races. It just has to do with the laps run during that race. It doesn’t matter if that’s the fastest time ever or nightmarishly slow. As long as it’s faster than the laps everyone else ran, it’s a winner.
During some of the “regular” races and certainly during the higher-profile events, you will have the option to bet some additional prop bets. Now, most of the bets we talked about already can be considered prop bets, but there are some more that you will sometimes see. For example, you might be able to bet on how many cautions there will be during a race. Or, you might be able to bet on whether or not a particular track record will be broken. Sometimes you can even bet on the length of the race or even the time it takes someone to sing the National Anthem before the event.
Some of these auto racing props are a great way to make some money while some of them are just there for entertainment purposes. You can still win money betting the entertainment props, but just be aware that you’re really just gambling. It’s hard to argue that betting on the length of the National Anthem requires much skill.
We always like to close our types of bets guides with the same disclaimer because we think it’s that important. Just because all of these different types of bets exist does not mean that you have to make all of these different bets. If you just want to make to-win bets, you can do that and can be wildly profitable doing so. Or, if you just want to make matchup bets because you don’t like variance, that’s totally cool too. Or, if you want to bet every single type of bet on this list, you can do that.
The point of showing you the different betting options you have within the sport of auto racing is so that you know what kind of flexibility exists. For some of you, you might come across a prediction that doesn’t directly affect who the race winner is going to be. If you aren’t aware of the different bet types available, then you’re not going to be able to capitalize on that prediction and turn it into a profit.
So, feel free to use any or all of these bet types or stick to just one. As long as you are making bets with value and practicing good bankroll management, you’re going to be a profitable winner.