WE ARE BACK! Finally, after almost 3 full months we are going racing again. Albeit, there are some stipulations that we have never seen before. Doesn’t matter though, racing is here and we are talking odds from the Real Heroes 400 from Darlington.
Odds on Odds: Real Heroes 400
So much hype has been put into this race simply because it is one of the first major sporting events back from quarantine. We saw the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars back in action last week at Knoxville and now racing comes back to pavement with no fans in the stands at Darlington.
Despite no fans in the stands and some major precautionary changes to make this possible for Nascar, the series is set to go green, again. They set the race lineup based on a random draw in groups based on owner points. Brad Keselowski won the pole position based on the draw.
There has been no racing in over 2 months. No drivers have been on track to test, just a lot of iRacing and simulator time. This means a lot of drivers are bound to be rusty when they sail off into turn 1 on Sunday. We might remind you, there will also be no practice or qualifying time either (This should be interesting.)
Also entered in this race for the first time since his scary crash is Ryan Newman and replacing Kyle Larson following his dismissal is Matt Kenseth. Both drivers have been granted waivers to run for titles should the requirements be met.When it was announced that Nascar would make its return to action this Sunday, sports books immediately went to work.
For those of us who have missed betting or playing fantasy here are the odds and picks to to win for Sunday’s Real Heroes 400.
Favorites to Win the Real Heroes 400
Darlington is a track known for its abrasive pavement and walls that jump out and tag cars as they go by. It is a facility that veterans tend to run better at than the younger drivers. That’s why two former champions lead the way in odds this week. Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are both listed at +450. Those seem to be pretty stable numbers across many sports books as well and realistic considering the circumstances.
Penske teammates Keselowski and Joey Logano will go next off the board at +800 and +700 respectively. Brad secured the first starting spot when the race goes green at 3:30 EST on Sunday. He is the 2018 winner of the Southern 500 held at Darlington. Logano is a former champion but has yet to taste victory at the famed track. Sunday could be the day.
Next up will be most popular driver Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin. Both drivers are set currently at +850 which seems to be good odds. Elliott won in an Xfinity Series car here and has moderate success at the facility. He could be one of the young guns to take if you are looking for that. Since 2005, there has only been one driver to win twice at Darlington and that would be Hamlin. He has had a lot of success here in not only Cup but Xfinity as well. He is a safe pick come Sunday.
The final favorite on my board would be Martin Truex, Jr. He is listed at +900 but has some ground to make up as he will roll off 15th. Truex has been to victory lane here and certainly could find his way there again come Sunday.
Longshots For Victory
If there is any young gun that you should take if you are eager to bet since the layoff then it would be this guy. Last year in the Bojangles Southern 500 Erik Jones took home the checkered flag and Sunday he is listed at +1300. Jones has been nothing but solid at this track in his entire career. In three Cup series starts at Darlington Jones has an average finish of 4.6. The winner of the non-points paying Busch Clash could be the pick to win and should be in your fantasy lineup.
Next up in our long shots would be the two cars that dominated Auto Club Speedway in Fontana earlier this year. Alex Bowman and Ryan Blaney are both listed at +2000 and both young guns are running well in 2020. Had it not been for a late race pit call, Bowman might have won two races this season. He dominated the event in California and really had only one challenger. That guy was Ryan Blaney. Blaney missed out by inches from winning the Daytona 500 and had a tire come apart late in California. Both drivers are strong to start the year and both look poised for a good run.
Here’s the guy many wanted to see in here. Matt Kenseth returns to Nascar after just over a year away. He comes into Darlington at +2200 and why not. The guy is just a fresh as everyone else who has been sitting out. He will hop into the Ganassi #42 and look for a win immediately. Oh, by the way, who was the last winner when the Cup Series ran Darlington in May? Yes, Matt Kenseth.
Three other drivers to keep an eye on from the longshots are ol’ seven-time Jimmie Johnson(+2800), Aric Almirola(+3200) and Clint Bowyer(+3400). Each driver has a car capable of winning and they will start near the front when the green drops.
Underdogs to Win the Real Heroes 400
This is real short list of drivers to win as an underdog. In fact, you have to go back to 2011 when a ‘underdog’ won the race. That day it was Regan Smith. Regan may not be in the field but he will be the only FOX reporter on the ground.
If you are in you can win still applies just because of the nature this race brings. Matt DiBenedetto will be the best pick out of the underdogs at +5000. He has a solid starting spot for the Wood Brothers as he rolls off 3rd.
Lots of young faces will be in this category and that starts with last year’s Southern 500 pole winner William Byron. He is listed at +5000 and has a lot of cars to pass to get to the front but is capable. Could Sunday be the day Willie B. gets to victory lane?
Other underdogs to look at or put in your fantasy lineup would include Ryan Newman as he is coming back from injury and is listed at +11000 and Austin Dillon who is also listed at +11000.
Projected Fantasy Line-up
So during this quarantine time, I reflected on my previous posts and felt I needed to add this section. Here is where we will put a projected fantasy line-up for you to take a look at. This is a budgeted line-up prediction based on DraftKings.
This week will see Blaney, Hamlin, DiBenedetto, Bowyer, Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick in my fantasy budgeted line-up.
Value and Upset Pick for the Real Heroes 400
When looking at Darlington a very solid value pick here is Matty D. DiBenedetto is starting 3rd and at a place like Darlington track position is everything. He will have a solid car underneath him as well. I like the value pick that DiBenedetto brings.
When it comes to the upset, not many will see this guy as an upset but given the circumstances it is. Matt Kenseth comes back and gets the win in his first start for Chip Ganassi. He has won at Darlington before and did it the last time the series ran here in May. It was also his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing and has the makings this weekend to get the job done.
The Pick for the Real Heroes 400 is…?
Without knowing literally anything going into this race there is so many names that rise to the top. Harvick and Busch immediately just because of their fantastic careers and how they handle adversity when thrown at them. Hamlin because he is dominate at this track. Even Keselowski because of his success here and how it could pay dividends for him.
There are so many names that come to the top in this circumstance. No matter what, no matter the pick we are all racing and watching live sports again and it feels so good to write about this. This week’s pick to win the Real Heroes 400 is…?
The winner of the Daytona 500 will get win number two on the year after winning two races in the IRacing Pro Invitational. He has won at Darlington twice before and is very successful at this track in all series. When it comes to someone taking advantage of an opportunity it has to be Hamlin. Yes, Toyota hasn’t started off the year well but this is probably the most even the field will ever be again.
Sure we could see Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick in victory lane but Hamlin has had recent success and that proves important with no time on track.
The Real Heroes 400 in honor of all the frontline workers during this pandemic and we thank you for your service will go green at 3:30pm EST on Sunday live on FOX and MRN.
Welcome back to racing!