By David Caraviello | | 19 mins
NASCAR Clash At The Coliseum Odds, Predictions & Picks
NASCAR is back—and it looks a little different, in more ways than one.
There’s the car, the new “next gen” model whose parts will all come from single manufacturers. There’s the look, more of a showroom appearance with side numbers pushed forward to allow more space for sponsor logos. There are the wheels, which now feature a single center lug nut. And there’s Sunday’s season-opening exhibition, which has been transformed from a glorified test session to one of the more anticipated events of the year.
The old Busch Clash has become the Clash at the Coliseum, to be held on a quarter-mile paved track built inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. NASCAR’s top series hasn’t competed inside football stadiums since the 1950s, when it ran most notably at Soldier Field.
For NASCAR, Sunday brings the promise of a real breakthrough—although the prospect of a new car on a new track comprises a complete unknown to bettors.
NASCAR odds show short track aces Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin are co-odds favorites at +600, although drivers will have to advance into the 23-car main event through a series of qualifying races. NASCAR betting fans will have practice and single-car qualifying sessions Saturday to help them determine who brought the fastest cars to Southern California.
NASCAR Clash At The Coliseum Odds
|Driver||Win||Top 3||Top 5|
|Martin Truex Jr.||+600||+145||-165|
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NASCAR Clash At The Coliseum Betting Tips
There’s no relevant history for bettors and top sportsbooks to rely on here, given that NASCAR’s premier circuit hasn’t competed inside a football stadium in over six decades, and hasn’t raced on a quarter-mile track since 1971. That leaves us to look at the active drivers who are typically the best on short tracks, a list that includes Kyle Busch (16 career victories), Kurt Busch and Hamlin (10 each), Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski (seven each) and Truex (six).
But not all short tracks are created alike. Eight of Kyle Busch’s short track wins have come at Bristol, a high-banked half mile, and six more have some at three-quarter-mile Richmond—both nothing like drivers will see at the Coliseum. The most apt modern parallel is tight, flat, half-mile Martinsville, where Hamlin has won five times and Truex three. But even that is double the length of the track on which drivers will compete Sunday.
Then there are the quarter-mile tracks that aren’t part of NASCAR’s top series, but which some drivers have thrived on. Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell are past winners of the Chili Bowl, a quarter-mile midget car race, though the track is dirt and not asphalt. Corey Lajoie won a regional series race at Bowman Gray Stadium, a historic quarter-mile in North Carolina. Kevin Harvick cut his racing teeth on paved western quarter-miles like Stockton 99 and Orange Show.
And yet, it’s all still very much a guessing game. Bettors should rely on a NASCAR truism, that it’s the best drivers and elite teams which tend to adapt the quickest in any new situation. And varying your betting portfolio to incorporate some wagers that offer multiple opportunities to cash out (such as winning manufacturer) can serve as something of a hedge against the unknown.
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NASCAR Clash At The Coliseum Best Bets
Kyle Larson To Win
Odds: +200 at DraftKings
It’s not a dirt track, but nobody in NASCAR has a better resume on quarter-mile layouts, and the reigning Cup Series champion has proven he can contend anywhere. Did the push to the 2021 title hurt the No. 5 team in next gen car development? Wait until the Daytona 500 to worry about that.
Denny Hamlin Top Toyota
Odds: +800 at DraftKings
Again, we’re leaning on personal history here. Hamlin isn’t just the most successful active driver at Martinsville, but he came up racing on flat short tracks throughout his native Virginia. He’s also not shy about being aggressive, which will likely be required in the Coliseum’s tight confines.
Christopher Bell Top 5
Odds: +215 at DraftKings
Bell won on several dirt and asphalt tracks of around a quarter-mile in length throughout an early career that included sprint cars and super late models. He’s a proven short-tracker worth taking a chance on in a race where most of the top drivers carry negative moneylines for a top-five finish on betting apps.
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Clash at the Coliseum Time, Date & TV
When: Sunday, 6 p.m. ET
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum