Loading scores...
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Best Bets

Ally 400 Dark Horses

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: June 22, 2022, 2:14 pm ET

Editor’s Note: Don't just bet your favorite sports. LIVE YOUR BET LIFE! Get started today at PointsBet with two risk-free bets up to $2,000. Bet now!

With Daniel Suarez’s win last week after he opened at 25/1 and closed at 14/1, the distinction between dark horses and favorites is shrinking. For the moment at least, NASCAR seems to have achieved their long-desired parity with 12 different winners and no one scoring more than two races. The NextGen car is working as it is intended, in spite of a few hiccups with the reliability of wheels and lugs. This has made the traders conservative, and for our thoughts on that subject, make sure to read the “Despite the Odds” post.

At the same time, the return of practice and qualification has given the traders a rationale for changing odds immediately ahead of the race. One need look no further than Suarez’s 1100-point deduction at Sonoma Raceway for an example. The traders have also been extremely reactionary to pole winning runs, which virtually ensures that anyone leading the field to the green will have a significant lessening of their odds.

If you identify an attractive dark horse, lock them in before the weekend.

Dark horses aren’t always productive and by their very natures, they are less predictable than favorites. But Nashville Superspeedway is hosting only their second Cup race and that means the playing field is level. Last year, half of the top-10 positions were claimed by drivers that had relatively high odds for the outright win, including second-place finishers Ross Chastain, fourth-place Aric Almirola, and fifth-place Kevin Harvick.

We will see some other longshots run well this week. In fact, we have already profiled two drivers who are still seeking their first win of 2022 in this week’s Best Bets post. That leaves several drivers who have wins in the last 16 races as ones we believe have marginal shots at winning. Not all of these are dark horses because we don’t always agree with the traders. For this week, fifth-ranked Denny Hamlin (+1100) and seventh-ranked Joey Logano (+1200) are in a bit of a netherworld between the two designations.

In the Best Bets post, we profiled Christopher Bell (+1800) and Ryan Blaney (+1100) as potential top-10 finishers. Martin Truex Jr. (+1300) is notably missing from that list and part of the reason is because of his uneven attempts in the first 16 races this season. He has a top-10 percentage of only .438 and a top-five mark of .125. None of his seven top-10s this year came on rough-surfaced tracks, but he did win at Darlington Raceway last year and swept that track’s top five. He had another top 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Michael McDowell (+40000) missed one of he his best opportunities to win last week at Sonoma. His grassroots background in the Trans Am Series has always made him one of our dark horses on road courses and his situational awareness on carburetor-restricted superspeedways makes him interesting there as well. But in recent weeks, McDowell has earned top-10s at Darlington and Charlotte Motor Speedway. He has another top-10 on the Bristol dirt track, which suggests he and the team are becoming accustomed to running up front.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+6000) also deserves attention based on his recent record. Beginning with a runner-up finish on another rough-surfaced track of Dover Motor Speedway, he rattled off four consecutive top-10s, including an eighth at Darlington. Since his last two attempts were outside the top 20, we would be tempted to believe he might have lost his momentum, but then that sixth-place finish in last year’s Ally 400 makes us pay closer attention.

The App is Back! Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news, mobile alerts and track your favorite players. Plus, now you can check out articles and player cards. Get it here!

The 2022 season has produced breakouts for several strong contenders. Erik Jones (+9000) has run much stronger than he’s finished on a few occasions, but like last week’s winner Suarez, he has too-often experienced catastrophic problems in the second half of the race. Jones showed a knack for racing on rough-surfaced tracks in 2020 with five top-10s in seven races. He was not as strong last year with only one such finish, but it came late in the season at Bristol and is joined by a 10th at Dover.

Chris Buescher (+15000) came close to laying claim to a playoff berth last week. He pressed Suarez hard in the closing laps and burned his tires off so that the margin of victory was greater than the challenge suggests. He will have learned a lesson about how to save his tires and that is critical on a rough-surfaced track. Buescher finished eighth at Dover earlier this season, so he has a feel for this course type.

While we don’t always agree with the traders, their respect for a driver carries some weight. Tyler Reddick (+1600) is the 10th-ranked driver this week and he’s run well enough to sit 14th in the standings – but he is 42 points below the current cutline. If the line doesn’t move, he must consistently outperform Harvick and Aric Almirola (+4000) to climb high enough to make the playoffs. It would be far easier to win, and Reddick has come close several times in 2022.

PointsBet Sportsbook is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links. NJ, IA, IN, IL, CO, MI, VA, WV only. 21+. T&C apply. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER

Dark Horses for the 2022 Goodyear 400 [Darlington 1]
Drydene 400 [Dover]
2021 Ally 400 [Nashville]

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.