Over the past year, Kurt Busch made himself a great value with a single win.
During the last 36 races, his average betting line was +2465, which gave him an average ranking of about 10th. He has a reputation as a strong aero-restricted superspeedway racer, so his best odds relative to the rest of the field came in the past two Talladega Superspeedway races, where a +1600 made him the eighth-most popular driver.
He didn’t win either of those events, but most bettors know to either steer completely away from the restricted tracks or wager broadly over several dark horses.
Hint: Everyone is a dark horse on those courses.
Busch’s 2020 season was salvaged by the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Chip Ganassi Racing is solid, but not head-turning, on 1.5-mile tracks. Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Team Penske regularly dominate those courses. Over the past couple of years, Stewart-Haas Racing added their name to the mix.
That allowed Ganassi to fly under the radar. It also meant that when the fall race rolled around, Busch could be obtained for +4000 odds. And with a payoff of $400 on a hypothetical, weekly $10 bet, Busch has a positive $40. In other terms, a weekly bet has paid dividends of 11 percent.
BUSCH’S BIGGEST PAYDAY LAST 365 DAYS: (Las Vegas 2, +4000)
Factor in Busch’s average odds over the full course of a season, and he needs to pick up the pace in 2021 to remain a good value unless he is lucky enough to hit on another unexpectedly big payday. Busch needs multiple wins to cover a strategy that includes a weekly bet.
Busch has won more than one race only once in the previous nine seasons; he had two victories in 2015 at Richmond Raceway and Michigan International Speedway while driving for Stewart-Haas.
That makes Busch a perennial longshot who is constantly on the cusp of being an important part of your betting tactic. The key will be in managing that strategy.
During the past year, if one avoided betting on Busch in plate track races, his return on investment rose to 22 percent. His average odds increased slightly to +2500, so a once-yearly win covers his bet.
Busch has won at least one race in each of the last nine seasons.
In his 20-year career, he has failed to win in a season only three times with the most recent being in back-to-back years in 2012/2013 when he sojourned with James Finch and Barney Visser after getting released by Team Penske. Busch has never won more than four races in a season.
In terms of career-average finishes, Busch’s best tracks can be somewhat problematic. He’s run extremely well, but failed to win on the Daytona road course and Charlotte Roval. The permanent Sonoma Raceway is also among the top five, and he has a victory there.
Also in his personal top-five list are Auto Club Speedway and Kentucky Speedway. Those tracks do not host Cup races in 2021. That leaves Phoenix Raceway, Texas Motor Speedway, and Bristol Motor Speedway as his next best courses. Unfortunately, he is not dominant on any of those with a best average of 13.6 in 37 Phoenix races.
But that doesn’t have to matter. Busch is only a long term addition to your betting strategy if you have a stomach for risk. One has to scroll through 14 of his most recent victories before finding multiple wins on a track, so his next one could very literally come anyplace. Busch won at Atlanta in 2009 and 2010. His last 11 wins have come on 11 different tracks.