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NASCAR: Your All in One Betting and Strategy Guide

NASCAR: Your All in One Betting and Strategy GuideNASCAR and betting go together like warm apple pie and ice cream. It works well and can often leave us feeling pretty damn satisfied afterward. When it comes to betting on one of America’s finest and fastest auto racing series, you have a wealth of wagering options available to you. As such, it would be rude not to at least consider exercising your choice, right?

When betting on any sport for the first time, things might be a little confusing at first. This is certainly the case when someone is attracted to the idea of wagering on a sport that they don’t watch as a fan. In an ideal world, betting enthusiasts will live and breathe NASCAR as a fan before deciding to place bets on the races, but this isn’t always the case. As such, we have designed this guide to help those who are new to the sport, period.

It is not just absolute beginners who can learn from this guide, however. Even those with plenty of experience in watching and placing bets on NASCAR can learn from the topics that we will cover below. One crucial part of betting on the races is that you can never have enough information, or know it all. This makes NASCAR an interesting prospect for any intelligent bettors, too.

Naturally, you will need to find a solid, reliable, and trustworthy betting site before you begin. It is beyond question that the right sportsbook will enhance your betting experience, so it is always a good idea to think smart about the site you choose to bet on NASCAR through. Our recommended betting sites come fully approved and tested for their quality. You can find some of our top picks, below.

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What is NASCAR?

So, if you’re excited for what is to come in your NASCAR betting journey, we’re equally as excited to provide you with some crucial information to add to your buzz. The first question we would like to ask you is, do you think you know NASCAR? Fear not if you are new to the sport, as we have everything you need to know to get you on the right track. To begin, let’s take a look at what NASCAR is.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the most popular auto racing series, and one of the most loved sports, in America. Founded on February 21, 1948, the sport can trace its deep roots to the prohibition-era, where moonshine transporters would modify their vehicles to evade the clutches of local law enforcement agencies. These drivers eventually began to compete with one another, putting the wheels in motion for organized races.

NASCAR is effectively a sanctioning body with three main racing series under its banner. These are the Sprint Cup Series (the major series), the Xfinity Series (the minor series), and the Camping World Truck Series. When it comes to betting on NASCAR, most tend to gravitate towards the Sprint Cup Series, as this is where most of the top-end action happens.

The Cars

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series features some of the most impressive vehicles in auto racing. However, when the series was first set up, cars were required to be “strictly stock,” four-door sedans. The purpose of the sport was to exhibit the finest in racing talent in common cars that came straight off manufacturers’ production lines. While the Fords and Chevrolets of today resemble production cars, they are anything but.

These days, NASCAR’s vehicles are designed to be elite racing cars and feature various modifications that make them very different to a modern streetcar. For example:

The Drivers

NASCAR drivers are, unsurprisingly, the stars of the sport. While the cars make NASCAR what it is, they simply lack the capability of human expression and communication to engage in interviews and build up a following. Who knows, in the future, we may have talking cars that exude style and charisma, but we are some distance away from that being something that takes the sport to the next level.

NASCAR fans are crazy about the sport and tend to be attracted to drivers with star qualities and strong personalities. Over the years, the sport has featured some incredible talents and legends of racing that have helped make NASCAR into the family sport it is today. Drivers such as Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, and Dave Pearson have given fans a lot to celebrate over the years.

These legends of the sport all contributed in their own ways and have their own incredible and heroic stories. If you need to know a little more about the greatest drivers in NASCAR history, check out our NASCAR Legends page.

Understanding How NASCAR Races Work

As part of NASCAR betting 101, understanding how races work is one of the most important things to take into account. Much like any other sport, you need an idea of what is happening before you can make a sound judgment on what wagers make sense. There is a lot more to NASCAR than cars speeding around a track and a lot more to winning a championship than just winning races.

Qualifying for a Race

Prior to a NASCAR race, drivers must prove that they are eligible for the race by qualifying. The practice of qualifying also helps determine where a driver will appear on the grid. Drivers will race as many laps as they wish to, within reason, in order to reach their fastest lap time. This lap time will then be used to place them in position when the race comes around.

Qualifying for a NASCAR race is a knockout system where places in a race are up for grabs to the fastest 36 drivers. There are three qualifying rounds, with those finishing in 25th to 36th occupying these places on the grid. The top 24 cars move on to round two of qualifying, where positions 13th to 24th will be decided. The top 12 cars then proceed to the final round where pole position can be won, in addition to 2nd to 12th place on the grid.

Once the top 36 slots have been filled, positions 37 through to the final place on the grid are determined by owner points, should teams not qualify based on speed.

Daytona Works Differently

The biggest race on the NASCAR calendar, the Daytona 500, has a unique process when it comes to qualifying. In race week, cars will engage in the Can-Am Duel to determine the grid in the big event. This definitely adds to the excitement of the ‘500, as drivers need to race it out to battle for the coveted pole position and second place ahead of the race itself.

Those hoping to take to the grid in any of the slots from 3rd to 38th will find their positions based on how they fare in the Can-Am races, with the final two spots on the grid going to the best performing non-chartered teams’ cars. This is, of course, on the basis that they have not qualified in a better position already.

Know the Difference: Drivers’ Championship vs. Owners’ Championship

As is the case with most high-level auto racing series, there are two distinctive championships up for grabs in NASCAR. These are the Drivers’ Championship and the Owners’ Championship. Although pretty self-explanatory by their titles, the former is up for grabs to the winner at Homestead, while the latter is awarded to the car owner who performs the best throughout the regular season and Chase for the Championship.

Unlike Formula 1, NASCAR does not award points to more than one car of the same owner. This means that the points earned by a driver and those earned by the owner will almost always be identical. The only time when you can expect to see a difference between the driver and owner’s points tally is where the driver is changed throughout the season and is replaced by a new driver (owner points will stay the same, however).

Do You Know Your Flags?

Depending on your thirst for all-things NASCAR, you might already be familiar with the different types of flags that are used in a race. The use of these flags by officials is for the purposes of communicating with drivers. There are a number of flags that are used in NASCAR races, and each one is used to signal a unique message to drivers.

When betting on NASCAR, it pays to understand what these flags mean in order to feel truly engaged in the race. Below, we will break down the purpose each flag serves in a race.

Green Flag

Unsurprisingly, the green flag is waved to indicate that the beginning or resumption of the action. This flag signals to all drivers that they are clear to start racing or continue following a stop to the race.

Yellow Flag (Caution Flag)

This flag is used to signal for drivers to reduce their speeds in the event of a crash or other obstruction on the track. Drivers must not pass when the yellow flag is signaled and are required to track the pace car in the order that they are in at the time it is waved. Once the track is safe – and any hazards have been cleared – the green flag will be signaled and drivers will be permitted to resume racing.

White Flag

This flag comes with a very simple message: there is one lap left in the race.

Black Flag

If a driver has been penalized or is a little too aggressive in their driving, the black flag will signal that they are required to return to the pits.

Checkered Flag

Probably the most well-known flag in auto racing, the checkered flag is waved just before the first driver finishes the race. When this flag shows, fans know who the winner is.

Red Flag

Just like the green flag corresponds to the color on traffic lights, signaling that it is safe to race, the red flag indicates that the race is halted. Cars are required to stop behind the pace car – this could be on the track or they might be ordered to return to their lanes – until the green flag signals that the race has resumed.

There are usually two main reasons for the waving of the red flag: debris on the track or adverse weather conditions.

Green and White Checkered Flag

When this flag is used, you will know that the end of a race stage has happened and the first 10 drivers in a race have crossed the finish line. After the tenth driver has crossed the line, the yellow flag will be waved until the green flag indicates the start of the next stage.

Black Flag with White X or Diagonal Stripe

When this flag is showing, it indicates that a driver has not pitted in five laps since receiving a black flag signal. Should a driver receive this flag, it means that they are not subject to NASCAR scoring and are disqualified until they observe the black flag and head to pit.

Blue Flag with Yellow Stripe

This flag indicates to drivers who are a little slower that there are faster cars approaching them. If these slower drivers fail to yield to the faster cars, there is a chance that they could receive a black flag for being instrumental in producing unsafe driving conditions for other drivers.

This flag is frequently shown to warn slower drivers that faster cars are approaching. Drivers showed this flag need to yield to the faster traffic or risk getting black flagged by NASCAR for causing unsafe conditions and ignoring warnings.

What Makes NASCAR Great for Betting?

Great. Now we have got that out of the way, allow us to reach inside our box of superlatives and rain handfuls of them down like rice at a wedding. You see, NASCAR has that effect on sports fans. It is a sport that seems to bring everyone together in a celebration of everything that is great about the American auto industry and, more importantly, good old-fashioned racing.

It is no secret that NASCAR is the preferred choice of sport for many auto racing enthusiasts in the U.S. While the sport hasn’t quite captured the imagination of the masses across the globe, it is still relatively popular in other countries, nonetheless. If there is any sport that sums up what it means to be an American, then NASCAR is certainly up there.

So, how about when it comes to betting on NASCAR. Is the five-sense thrill of the greatest autosport in America enhanced when we place a few bets on the races? You bet it is. There are fewer sports in the world that seem to go hand in hand with gambling than auto racing. Given the competitiveness and sheer excitement of NASCAR, surely there is no better series in auto racing to bet on?

So, in order to become an expert in NASCAR betting, one must learn as much as they can about how it works. This might sound like a boring exercise, but with a sport as gripping as NASCAR, it is far from a chore.

Preparing Yourself for Betting on NASCAR

Before you place your bets on NASCAR, you’re going to need a top-class betting site. Before you decide on a betting site, you should think long and hard about opting for one that will serve you well. You can find our recommended betting sites at the top of this page. Each and every one comes with our seal of approval, something that is only given to the best sites out there.

Once you have selected your site and know what races you want to bet on, it is up to you to decide on what bets to place. In NASCAR, you will find a multitude of different markets to cater to your interests. What makes NASCAR an awesome sport to bet on is that it is, fundamentally, easy to understand. The first man to complete their laps and cross the finish line first wins. You can’t get more straightforward than that!

Despite things being easy to understand, there are so many finer details that make up the bigger picture. Putting these pieces together is not as easy as you may think, but certainly not difficult providing you make the right effort. NASCAR is a sport that many enjoy betting on, and as such, there are some bets that seem to stand out among fans of the series.

The Most Popular NASCAR Bets

If you think about it, there will be a number of cars on the grid come race day. When placing your bets, will you select one driver or place bets on a few drivers to be in with a better chance of winning some money. This is up to you, of course, but the great thing is that you have the option to place as many bets as you want. Now, it wouldn’t make much sense betting on every driver, but you could select a few.

This is one basic thing to think about before you commit to your bets. NASCAR is a great sport to bet on, given that there are many different types of bets that you can place. Depending on the betting site you use, you should be afforded a wealth of options to keep you satisfied. Now that you understand a little more about NASCAR, you can put that knowledge to good use when placing those bets.

Below, we will take a look at some of the more popular bets in NASCAR. These should give you an idea what to expect.

Win Outright

The most basic meat and potatoes bet you can place on NASCAR; the Win Outright bet is simply a prediction on who will win a race. It is simple: select the driver you think will win. If that driver does win the race, you make a profit. In certain sports, the odds for an outright winner will not pay much. Given that there can be around 40 cars on the track in a race, this means that you will have a better chance of getting favorable odds.

Understandably, the fact that there are so many cars on the track also means that selecting just one winner will be difficult. However, as we mentioned above, you are not restricted to just one selection. In fact, you can select as many as you like, but just be sure that you are not wagering so much that you run the risk of losing a lot of money.

Podium Finish

This is a great bet for those who aren’t really certain who will win a race. Sometimes, you can be torn between a few different drivers. However, if your selection/s finish in the top three drivers, you will win your bet. Granted, the odds for a Podium Finish bet are going to be a lot shorter than the odds you would get for selecting a race winner, but the risk is also a lot lower.

Unlike in horse racing – where a place finish pays more if your horse finishes first – you will not receive any more money for your driver finishing ahead of the pack. If the feeling takes you, you can also bet on a few different drivers. However, it is probably a better idea to make multiple selections on a Win Outright bet, as the odds are justified with that bet. Not so much with this one, it has to be said. Regardless, this is a great bet for a beginner to try in order to get a little experience in wagering on NASCAR.

Pole Position

Another very popular wager among NASCAR betting enthusiasts is the Pole Position bet. To win this bet, you simply need to select the driver that will finish with the fastest qualifying time. This is a great bet for those who can’t wait until race day to get their betting fix. It also encourages bettors to pay a little more attention to the movers and shakers in the sport, as there is a particular level of skill involved in this bet.

If you are the type of bettor that enjoys research, gobbling up stats, and coming to a precise conclusion, this bet could certainly favor you.

Driver Matchups

Among the most entertaining bets in NASCAR, Driver Matchups involve selecting two drivers and picking who will end the race in the better position. Unlike other bets, it doesn’t matter if your selection wins the race or not, providing they beat the other driver. This bet certainly makes a race a little more entertaining as you are zoning in on just two drivers on the track.

This bet works especially well with two drivers who are probably not strong enough to win a race. While the action takes place in the front of the pack, you also have a mini-saga happening somewhere else on the field. Rather than watching one race, it can almost feel as though you are watching two races. For this reason alone, this bet deserves attention.

It is always a good idea to check that the betting site you are using covers these bets. Sometimes, you might be restricted to a certain number of selections. Many sportsbooks select the matchups and offer odds accordingly. There is certainly scope to suggest that this bet is one of the more exciting there is in NASCAR.

Fastest Lap Time

Do you think you can predict who will record the fastest lap in a race? If so, then you will certainly find this one interesting. Like the Driver Matchup bet, a driver does not have to win the race to win this bet. All that matters is that they are credited with the fastest lap in order for you to win your bet.

Once again, this bet is not restricted to one driver. You can select a number of drivers to record that fastest lap. It can pay to have a few drivers on your slip, as the odds can often be worth it.


Rather than betting on markets that cater to individual races, you might prefer to select a driver that you think will win the series. Futures bets can be placed at the start of a season or at almost any other point (prior to bets being suspended, for example). Naturally, the odds for selecting a Championship winner will be higher at the start of a season, as little will be known about performance or progression at this point.

There are a number of Futures markets out there that should catch your attention. If predicting events in the distance future is your forte, you could do a whole lot worse than trying your hand at this bet.

NASCAR Betting Strategy

If there is one thing you need to consider if you want to see real progress in your profit margin on your NASCAR bets, it is a betting strategy. Every sport is different, so it is only natural that your strategy must account for the important factors that determine how that sport works. In NASCAR, there is a wide range of accepted methods you can use to cut down on errors and put yourself in a good position for the win.

From drivers performing particularly well on certain tracks, to teammates helping each other get the points necessary to make the playoffs, if you think about it, these things all have an impact on your chances of winning your bets. Therefore, it is crucial to look at the bigger picture when devising your strategy. Depending on how the season goes, you might need to amend your strategy to suit a number of different scenarios.

Think About Multiple Bets

We mentioned this earlier when talking about particular bets. For example, selecting on driver to win outright may take your fancy, but have you considered betting on a few drivers to win a race? In NASCAR, odds are pretty good for anyone who can predict a race winner. Even the favorite for a race can come with some pretty considerable odds, so backing a few different drivers is always an option.

There are certain bets that will probably not justify multiple selections, such as the Podium Finish bet, given that odds are pretty low considering the risk is low. However, if you do your homework and see that one particular driver has performed very well at a particular track over the past couple of seasons – and comes with attractive odds – there is scope to back them for a Podium Finish with a driver that is expected to finish at least third.

Consider a Driver’s Form

While form can be a double-edged sword, there is no doubt that history has a habit of repeating itself. A driver’s form heading into a race can give you a little insight into their confidence levels. If everything is going right for them, this could signal that they are capable of at least making a podium finish in the next race. Conversely, a driver with a worrying dip in form should probably be avoided.

Form is not restricted to a season, however. A driver could be having an average season heading into a race on a track where they have consistently performed well at over the past few seasons. Some drivers are simply cut out for particular tracks, so it is always a good idea to look through the track history before a race before you commit to a driver you think stands the best chance of winning.

Gorge on Stats

Stats are your friend. There are plenty of statistics and records available to anyone who finds a use for them when betting on NASCAR races. While it might be tempting to bet on a hunch, or simply bet with your heart, anyone who has even the remotest ambition of putting together a good run of winning bets needs to do their homework.

Everything from a driver’s performance on a track to their ability to handle exceptionally hot (or poor) weather can be worked out. The question for those serious about betting on NASCAR is, how much work are you willing to do to take your strategy to the next level. If you are not too concerned about winning, by all means, have fun. If you want to increase your chances of success, read, read, and read some more.

Teamwork Can Affect a Race

Teamwork makes everything easy, right? However, if a driver has fallen out with his team and has doesn’t have a great relationship with those around him, this poor morale can lead to serious effects on performance. More than anything, drivers without a strong support base will lack the additional push that their competitors have. A driver with a competent teammate can reap a number of benefits from them.

When it comes to particular races, a stronger teammate can also do their best to help the other to advance in a race. For example, if it comes down to one driver requiring a certain number of points to reach the playoffs, it has been known for the other to help them out a little. Even if it means yielding and allowing them to pass, for example. This is definitely something to think about.

How About that Weather?

If you don’t believe that the weather has any effect on a NASCAR race, we have some news for you: you are wrong. A hotter track leads to a slicker track and this can make cars less easy to control. Colder temperatures mean that there is a chance of more cool air making it into the engine. If you have ever seen crews taping up the grills of cars, this is the reason why.

Heavy wind can also play a part in a race, as drivers will find it more difficult to hit a corner as fast as they would in better conditions. What you need to know a bettor is how the conditions might affect the driver you are placing your bet on. NASCAR is certainly a sport that works better in certain conditions, and there are drivers who tend to perform better in particular scenarios.

NASCAR is an incredible sport to bet on, providing you are winning. No one likes to consistently lose their bets, after all. When it comes down to it, the best approach to take when betting on NASCAR is to learn as much as you can about the sport and what can affect the outcome of a race. Clue yourself up on the best drivers and use the wealth of stats and information available to you, whenever you can.