2018 South Point 400 Betting Preview, Odds, and Predictions

by Rick Rockwell
on September 14, 2018
8

Minute Read

On Sunday, September 16th, the NASCAR Playoffs get underway with the South Point 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV. Although there will be a full field of drivers, only 16 of them are eligible to compete for the championship. In other words, it’s a race within a race and it’s going to be filled with plenty of action.

For anyone looking to bet on the South Point 400, here are the top NASCAR betting sites we would recommend:

This is the first year that NASCAR will run the South Point 400 as it replaces the fall race that used to take place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Furthermore, the South Point race is now the annual kickoff for the NASCAR playoffs. Previously, NASCAR had the Overton’s 400 scheduled as the first race in the postseason. However, after the sport adjusted their track scheduling, Chicago’s big race was moved back to July where it used to be scheduled annually.

Race Details

This is the second NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race of the season to be held at the LVMS track and it’s also 400 miles long. The first race was the Pennzoil 400 and it took place on March 4th. That race was won by Kevin Harvick.

The South Point 400 breaks down as follows:

  • 400 miles: 267 total laps
  • Stage 1: First 80 laps
  • Stage 2: Second 80 laps
  • Final Stage: Remaining 107 laps

The South Point 400 will be televised on NBC Sports Network.

Heading into Las Vegas

Coming into Vegas, the playoff field has been set. Without going into great detail about who made it and who will win the championship, as you can read my NASCAR Playoffs betting preview for that, this week’s race is all about how the postseason contenders can position themselves to advance to the Round of 12.

Last weekend, Brad Keselowski won at Indianapolis, which was his second victory in a row. Brad certainly added some spice to the postseason as most fans and pundits believed that NASCAR’s Big 3 would run away with the playoffs. In addition to Keselowski’s late-season dominance, the following storylines will also be worth watching:

  • Can Jimmie Johnson win at Vegas for the 5th time in his career?
  • Will Harvick sweep Vegas this year?
  • Can Kyle Busch or Martin Truex Jr. get the win and one-up Harvick?
  • Will any non-playoff drivers spoil the party and take the checkered flag?

Previous South Point 400 Winners

As mentioned above, this is the first time NASCAR has held a fall race in Las Vegas. Therefore, there are no previous winners.

South Point 400 Betting Odds

The following South Point betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

  • Kyle Busch +275
  • Kevin Harvick +275
  • Martin Truex Jr +400
  • Kyle Larson +600
  • Brad Keselowski +1000
  • Erik Jones +1600
  • Joey Logano +1600
  • Ryan Blaney +2200
  • Clint Bowyer +2200
  • Kurt Busch +2200
  • Chase Elliott +2200
  • Denny Hamlin +2500
  • Aric Almirola +4000
  • Jimmie Johnson +5000
  • Daniel Suarez +10000
  • Paul Menard +10000
  • Alex Bowman +10000
  • Austin Dillon +15000
  • Jamie McMurray +20000
  • Ryan Newman +20000
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr +30000
  • William Byron +30000
  • Trevor Bayne +50000
  • Ty Dillon +100000
  • Ross Chastain +100000
  • JJ Yeley                 +100000
  • Matt DiBenedetto +100000
  • Michael McDowell +100000
  • Chris Buescher +100000
  • David Ragan +100000
  • Bubba Wallace +100000
  • AJ Allmendinger +100000
  • BJ McLeod +100000
  • Timmy Hill +100000
  • Corey LaJoie +100000
  • Jeffrey Earnhardt +100000

The South Point 400 Favorites

According to the odds above, the following drivers are considered the odds on favorites to win the South Point 400:

Kyle Busch (+275)

Busch comes into this race tied with Harvick as the odds on favorite to win the inaugural South Point 400. It should come as no surprise considering the two drivers have won the most races this year and they are tied atop the playoff standings with 50 playoff points each.

In the spring Vegas race, Busch finished runner-up to Harvick and led 10 laps. It marked the 6th time Kyle has finished in the Top 5 at LVMS. Additionally, he’s also won a race at this track, posted 7 Top 10’s, and has an average finish of 13.3 in 14 career starts at Vegas.

In 2 of the last 3 Vegas races, Kyle has finished 4th or higher. I expect him to come into his home track and race well. Not only because it’s the playoffs, but also because he loves racing here.

Kevin Harvick (+275)

As mentioned, Harvick won the spring race back in March. It was his second career victory at this track as Kevin also won in 2015. That gave him two wins in the last 4 Las Vegas races. In his 18 career starts, Harvick also has 5 Top 5’s, 8 Top 10’s, and an average finish of 14.1.

In my opinion, Harvick should’ve been the favorite over Busch and all of the other drivers. He already won here earlier this year, and he has won twice in four years. Additionally, Kevin had the most wins during the regular season, the most stage wins, and was consistently one of the fastest cars each weekend.

Before it’s all said and done, I expect Harvick to put his stamp on this race and contend for a checkered flag.

Martin Truex Jr (+400)

Truex comes into this race after finishing dead last at Indianapolis last Sunday. He doesn’t have a great deal of momentum coming into the postseason. It’s been five races since Truex Jr. had a Top 5 finish. It’s been 8 races since he last won this season. Of the Big 3, Martin Truex Jr. is the most desperate for a big performance on Sunday.

Fortunately, Truex has raced well at this track in his career. With 13 starts at LVMS, Truex has 1 win (2017), 3 Top 5’s and 5 Top 10’s. He also has an average finish of 12.5 and has never crashed out of the race in Vegas. This bodes well for a driver looking to gain some momentum in the opening round of the playoffs.

Over the last 4 years, Truex has 3 top 5’s and an 11th place finish. He’s led 156 laps in the last 2 Vegas races. This year’s spring race, Truex finished 4th, which was just behind Harvick and Busch. I expect Martin to rebound this week as it hasn’t been that long since Truex Jr. won at this track. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he nabbed a stage win.

Kyle Larson (+600)

Last weekend, Larson finished 14th at Indianapolis. For the season, he finished 12th in the driver standings. However, coming into the playoffs, Larson also sits 12th, which isn’t a good thing as he now has a lot of work to do in order to move on to the next round.

Many pundits have picked Larson to be the 4th driver to make the final 4 at homestead. For that to happen, Larson needs to win at least 1 or 2 races in the playoffs.

In 5 career starts at Vegas, Larson has 2 Top 5’s, 3 Top 10’s, an average finish of 13.2, and he’s never crashed out of the race. In the spring race this year, Larson finished 3rd. Last year, Larson finished 2nd. It appears that this could be one of the tracks that Larson is a serious threat to take the checkered flag. However, there’s a big difference between a consistent Top 13 finish and actually winning the race.

Unfortunately for one of my favorite drivers, Larson has yet to win a race this season. But, will that change on Sunday?

Brad Keselowski (+1000)

Speaking of winning, Keselowski not only won the last two races, but he could make it 3 in a row as Brad is a top contender to win this weekend. In 10 career starts at LVMS, Brad has 2 wins, 4 Top 5’s and 6 Top 10’s, an average finish of 14.5 and has never crashed out. Brad won this race in 2016 and 2014.

Keselowski might be 5th in the odds on favorites, but he has to be considered as one of the drivers to beat this weekend. In my opinion he’s up there with Harvick as the two top guys to beat at Vegas this Sunday.

When you combine Brad’s two-race winning streak with his success at this track, you have to like his chances at winning on Sunday. I like his chances more than Larson’s or Truex’s.

The Best Betting Value for the South Point 400

The following drivers offer solid betting value based on the odds and their career success at LVMS:

Joey Logano (+1600)

If it seems like Logano is a weekly pick for value and sneakiness, well, that’s because he is. And, this week at Vegas is no different. Last weekend, Logano cruised across the finish line of Indianapolis with a 13th place finish. There was nothing special about his run, just another day at the office where Logano goes under the radar. If his peers take him lightly this weekend, then they will be in big trouble.

In 10 career starts at Vegas, Logano has 3 Top 5’s and 6 Top 10’s, with an average finish inside the Top 10 at 9.7. Joey has the 2nd best average finish among active drivers with 3 or more starts at this track. Furthermore, he’s posted 5 straight Top 10 finishes at this track with a runner-up in 2016.

One more note, Logano has an average start of 8.2 at this track, which is the best among all of the playoff contenders.

Denny Hamlin (+2500)

Now that the postseason is here, Denny Hamlin really needs to step things up if he wants to move on to the next round. Hamlin is currently ranked 13th in the playoff standings. Only the Top 12 advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs.

For Hamlin, he has an average finish of 12.6 at this track in 13 career starts. Additionally, he also has 2 Top 5’s, 6 Top 10’s, and zero DNFs. His average finish is the 6th best out of all of the playoff drivers, and his zero crashes at this track means that he should be a contender for at least a Top 10 on Sunday.

Hamlin has yet to win a race this season. Since his rookie season in 2005, Hamlin has won at least one race each year. In 2010, he won 8 races. Last year, Hamlin won 2 races. It’s now or never for Denny to try and get a win before his postseason chances are over.

The Best Longshot Driver to Win the South Point 400

Jimmie Johnson at +5000 is the best of the longshots with a realistic chance of winning. Just like with Logano being a weekly fixture at value, JJ seems to be a weekly fixture as a longshot. And, +5000 odds are not only long for JJ, but I think rather extreme for a driver with his success at this track.

In 17 career starts, Johnson has 4 wins, 6 Top 5’s, and 9 Top 10’s. He has an average finish of 11th and zero DNFs. JJ finished 12th at the spring race this year, 11th last year, and 3rd in 2016. JJ has had a tough year so far, but even in the midst of a massive winless streak, JJ is coming to a track where he can really produce.

Unfortunately for Johnson, he’s also in the position where he has to produce or he will be bounced from the playoffs in a few weeks.

I like Johnson’s chances on Sunday. I think he could be the wild card in this race as he’s not expected to compete with the top drivers, but he certainly has the skills and career track success to do so.

South Point 400 Prop Bets: Driver Matchups

For these NASCAR prop bets, you must choose which driver will have the highest finish at the end of the race. The following bets and odds are courtesy of 5Dimes:

Group 1

  • Aric Almirola +185
  • Jimmie Johnson +240
  • Alex Bowman +320
  • Daniel Suarez +345

I just finished laying out my arguments for Johnson above, so let’s take a look at the other 3 drivers in this Group. In 10 career races, Almirola has only 1 Top 10 and an average finish of 26.2. Both Bowman and Suarez have never posted a Top 5 or a Top 10 at this track. Furthermore, Suarez has an average finish of 23 and Bowman has an average finish of 32. Of the drivers in this group, only Suarez didn’t make the playoffs.

For me, this is an easy pick. In fact, this is easy money. If you checked out our Odds on Favorites videocast this week, I specifically chose this prop bet as my pick for our “Easy Money” segment. I believe Johnson’s track success and postseason experience will give him a huge advantage over the other drivers in this group. Go with JJ in this one.

Group 2

  • Paul Menard +245
  • Jamie McMurray +265
  • Ryan Newman +265
  • Austin Dillon +265

This group of drivers is a bit more difficult than the Johnson group. However, I am going with Austin Dillon to win it due to the fact that he’s the only driver that is in the playoffs out of the 4 in this grouping. But, that doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk. Dillon has only 1 Top 5 and 1 Top 10 in 6 career starts at this track. His average finish of 16.7 is respectable, but the other 3 drivers aren’t really any worse.

Paul Menard, the favorite of this group, has 1 Top 5, 4 Top 10’s, and an average finish of 16.1 in 12 career starts at this track. Ryan Newman has been slightly better at this track than Menard. In fact, Newman is tied for the most track appearances with 18 and has completed the most laps at Vegas with 4,596. Although he’s never won here, Newman has posted 4 Top 5’s, 8 Top 10’s and an average finish of 15.9.

Of the 4, Jamie McMurray has the worst average finish of 17.9. However, he also has 1 Top 5 and 5 Top 10’s in 16 career starts.

As you can see, Dillon has some stiff competition here. However, I think the 2018 Daytona 500 winner can edge out the other 3 drivers at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend.

2018 South Point 400 Checkered Flag

With the playoffs officially kicking off at Las Vegas this Sunday, I for one am very excited to see how things shake out. I see NASCAR’s Big 3 performing well this weekend as all three of them should finish in the Top 10. However, I believe Busch and Harvick will crack the Top 5 as Truex slides somewhere between 6th through 10th.

Joining Harvick and Kyle Busch in the Top 5 are Keselowski, my value bet in Logano, and a driver that I didn’t mention yet – Ryan Blaney. In his 4 career starts at Vegas, Blaney has 1 Top 5, 3 Top 10’s, an average start of 12 and the best average finish among active drivers at 9.2. In the spring race this year, Blaney started on the pole and finished 5th. Since Daytona on July 7th, Blaney has 8 Top 15 finishes, which includes runner up at Kentucky and 5th at Michigan.

Rounding out the Top 10 with Truex will be Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Jimmie Johnson.

As for who will win the race, as I mentioned above, I believe this race comes down to 3 drivers: Harvick, Busch and Keselowski. Of these three, I would say Kyle is the odd man out due to how well the other two have performed here in recent years. I don’t think Brad will win his 3rd race in a row, so I’m going with Harvick to pull off the Vegas sweep in 2018 and start the postseason with a big win.

My Top 5 Drivers

Here’s my predictions for the Top 5 drivers this weekend, in no particular order:

  • Kevin Harvick
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Kyle Busch
  • Joey Logano
  • Ryan Blaney

Betting Recap

Winner: Kevin Harvick (+275)

Best Value: Joey Logano (+1600) and Denny Hamlin (+2500)

Longshot: Jimmie Johnson (+5000)

Driver Matchups:

  • Group 1: Jimmie Johnson (+240)
  • Group 2: Austin Dillon (+265)

Las Vegas Motor Speedway Fun Facts

The following Las Vegas Motor Speedway fun facts are compiled from numerous NASCAR resources:

  • Construction on this track first began in 1995.
  • The first ever NASCAR race run here was in 1998.
  • The first ever Monster Energy Cup Series race at Las Vegas was in 1998 and it was won by Mark Martin.
  • Since then, there have been 21 total races at this track.
  • Jimmie Johnson holds the record for the most wins at this trick with 4.
  • 39 different drivers have finished in the Top 5.
  • Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin hold the record for most Top 5’s with 6 apiece.
  • 57 different drivers have finished in the Top 10.
  • Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. hold the record for most Top 10’s with 10.
  • Kasey Kahne has the most poles with 3.
  • Jimmie Johnson has led the most laps at this tracks with 595.
  • 5 drivers are tied for the most appearances at 18: Gordon, Earnhardt Jr, Kenseth, Newman, Harvick.
  • Logano has the best average starting spot at 8.2.
  • Ryan Blaney has the best average finish at 9.2.
  • Ryan Newman holds the record for most starts without a win at 18.
  • Kevin Harvick holds the record for most appearances without winning a pole at 18.
  • 12 different drivers have won a race at this track.
  • 6 different drivers have won multiple races at this track. Only Johnson (4), Keselowski (2) and Harvick (2) are still active.
  • Roush Fenway has the most team wins with 7.
  • Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to win 3 straight Vegas races. However, he joins Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton as the only drivers to win consecutive races.
  • Roughly 24% of the races have been won by a driver starting on the front row.
  • 16 different drivers have finished runner-up at this track. Earnhardt Jr. has the all-time mark with 3 runner-up finishes.
  • Danica Patrick and Shawna Robinson are the only two female drivers to race at this track.
  • In 2006, the LVMS was reconfigured.
  • Only one race at LVMS has gone to Overtime.
  • Only one LVMS race has been shortened due to weather.
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