Hello and welcome to 2022’s first edition of the blog. We took a few races this season to get a feel of the new cars in both NASCAR and F1, and the grand shakeup that has occurred in both sports. And we get to see both Saturday night!
The power balance of racing has drastically shifted, and all it took was drastically changing the regulations of the cars in NASCAR’s Cup Series and Formula One. F1 is seemingly no longer dominated by Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, despite the German team believing they can unlock their car’s pace this season. In the Cup Series there’s more first-time winners through two months of the season than there have been in any other season, and through seven races, there’s been seven different winners this season.
What a treat we have in store for us, race fans, as both NASCAR and F1 are racing on Saturday night, even if F1 is technically on Sunday in Australia. The Cup race starts at 7:30 Eastern, and Formula One will be a late night affair starting at 1am eastern. By then I will be drunk and delirious, which should make the race fairly entertaining regardless of what happens.
We’ll start with NASCAR, taking place at the infamous paperclip of Martinsville Speedway, a half-mile short track with tight turns. If the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Friday is any preview of what we’ll see Saturday night, drivers might need to pack their boxing gloves.
As the saying goes, “that’s short track racin”. The speed and strategy of your Daytonas, Talladegas, etc goes out the window and sometimes you just need to put your bumper to a guy’s door to get past him. In the video linked above, Ty Gibbs took exception to Sam Mayer doing just that, and decided to punch Mayer while keeping his own helmet on, so Mayer couldn’t get a shot back in edgewise.
In many other sports, such behavior would result in fines and suspensions, but not NASCAR, which actively promotes this stuff. The punishment was the two drivers in question being summoned to a meeting after their kerfuffle and forced to shake each other’s hand. That probably won’t change the feelings most of the Xfinity garage has for Ty Gibbs.
Chase Elliott starts the Martinsville race on pole but has been a shadow of his former self in the new car. The advantage Elliott once had on short tracks and road courses has been all but wiped away by the new car in the Cup Series, and his +500 to win line is purely based on his pre-2022 record and the fact that he’s on pole.
Kyle Busch at +200 for top Toyota looks a solid bet, other Toyota cars were slightly off the pace in practice in qualifying, and Kyle thrives in short track races. Kyle Busch -110 Top 5 also worth a wager, in my humble opinion.
Austin Cindric head-to-head over Aric Almirola +140 is also an intriguing line, Almirola is not at his best on short tracks once the racing gets going, despite his impressive qualifying run that put him on the front row. Cindric starts just outside the top ten, and the Daytona 500 winner will look to take advantage of how the new Cup Series car handles around Martinsville.
Chase Briscoe over Brad Keselowski +100 now listen I love Brad, as NASCAR needs unpredictable wild cards who can greatly impact races, but it hasn’t been his year with the new car so far. Chase Briscoe, a winner at Phoenix this year, is trending the other direction. 10 places separate these drivers on the starting grid which gives us this line.
Couple outrights to leave you with: Denny Hamlin +1400 and in the spirit of this season, a driver who hasn’t won yet, Joey Logano +1200. Denny got a win on the board last week and showed that he can work from the back of the pack in the new car. Joey’s not had a great run yet this season, but was quick around a lap in practice and qualifying at Martinsville this weekend.
Once you’ve had your fill of that short track racin’, there’ll be a few hours until the F1 Australian Grand Prix starts.
In theory, there should be far less physicality in F1, but you tell Nicholas Latifi that. Cars have been finding the wall of the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne very frequently in practice and qualifying this weekend, as drivers have been pushing the limits of the slightly-altered Aussie GP track.
A little kink/chicane was smoothed out to create a longer, sweeping back straight that will cut lap times dramatically from past grands prix in Australia. Australia’s own Daniel Ricciardo was a part of the team tasked with redesigning the circuit, hoping the alterations and the extra DRS zone will add some overtaking to what has historically been a not-so-exciting race.
As I mentioned earlier, the drastic shift in regulations to F1 cars have shuffled the pack. Ferrari are running at the front again. Mercedes seemingly have grave problems. Fans and experts alike wonder if the sport’s most dominant team over the past decade will even win a race this season.
Down the grid, Haas has made amazing strides forward. McLaren have looked lost, but seem to have found something in Australia, much to the delight of Daniel Ricciardo, who is set to have his best performance of the year at his home race.
Without further ado, let’s get to the action. Charles Leclerc is a -130 favorite on pole and not the juiciest line in the world but very hard to bet against the Ferrari ace. He was over three tenths up on Max Verstappen’s qualifying time.
My second bet plays off the first, and assumes Max Verstappen will be racing Leclerc for the victory. Leclerc to win and Sergio Perez fastest lap +1100 makes sense if Verstappen is within striking distance, and Red Bull will still want to secure the extra fastest lap point. Obviously the chips have to fall into place for this one.
Fernando Alonso top 6 finish +225 would probably look a lot different if Alonso didn’t lose it in the last sector of his incredibly quick qualifying lap. Alonso has been right around the top of the timing sheet somewhat surprisingly this weekend, and I look for that pace to show true in the race.
Lewis Hamilton over Lando Norris -120 is a tight one but with both teams improving, I look at the race strategy and tire management of the seven-time world champion proving to separate the two over the course of the Grand Prix.
Winning Margin between 5 and 10 seconds inclusive +285 is a great bet when the racing’s good. This usually supposes a battle between the lead cars towards the end of the race, with one car prevailing and creating breathing space over the final laps.
To review, here are all of our picks in a nice list:
NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville:
Kyle Busch Top Toyota +200
Kyle Busch Top 5 -110
Austin Cindric head-to-head over Aric Almirola +140
Chase Briscoe head-to-head over Brad Keselowski +100
Denny Hamlin outright winner +1400
Joey Logano outright winner +1200
F1 Australian Grand Prix:
Charles Leclerc outright winner -130
Leclerc to win and Sergio Perez fastest lap +1100
Fernando Alonso top 6 +225
Lewis Hamilton head-to-head over Lando Norris -120
Winning Margin between 5 and 10 seconds inclusive +285
A lot of plus money plays. We’re always trying to have some fun here. Let’s go racin.