The hot driver to bet for Sunday’s Federated Auto Parts 400

For the second time this year, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400 (3 p.m. ET, USA).

Richmond is the second track, and the first undrafted track, to have a return visit by the Cup Series. This means two things.

First, we’ll be able to see which teams have improved, or perhaps which have fallen a bit behind the spring race.

Second, we can rely on this spring run to help us with our betting decisions this week.

A driver ticks both boxes.

He showed recent speed even on tracks that don’t look like Richmond. This same rider also put in an outstanding performance at the first race in Richmond, as well as on other shorter flat tracks this year.

NASCAR pick for Richmond

*Quote on Tuesday afternoon

In the spring race, Martin Truex, Jr. and Kevin Harvick had arguably the two best cars.

It’s hard to compare, as different pit strategies all coalesced into an exciting finish. These different strategies also made it difficult to compare green flag speed and average race position.

What is undoubtedly true, however, is that Harvick was the fastest car in his strategy and caught race winner Denny Hamlin, but ran out of laps.

Harvick also did well on the shorter flat tracks in Phoenix, New Hampshire and Gateway, in addition to Richmond. All of these tracks also use the same tire.

In addition to his DNF at Gateway, Harvick earned the top six finishes in each of the races at those tracks. Its average driver rating of 111.6 is certainly representative of a top-five car.

I’m also not too worried about leaving Gateway out of this analysis. It is the least similar to Richmond of the three comparable tracks. It is the longest and fastest of the group, while Richmond is the shortest and slowest. Gateway also has the lowest tire wear, while Richmond has the highest.

In addition to similar tracks, Stewart-Haas Racing – Harvick in particular – has found plenty of speed lately. At high-powered tracks in Pocono and Michigan, Harvick was impressive.

He was racing in the top five at Pocono before getting caught in the wreckage of Ross Chastain. And sure enough, he won last weekend at Michigan.

This is a marked improvement from earlier this year, when the team struggled to find speed on high-speed tracks.

Harvick’s overall speed gain, along with his efforts at similar tracks and at Richmond earlier this year, means he should be in contention for victory.

While +1700 outright at FanDuel has value according to my model, I prefer its T3 odds at +550 in the same book. This gives us a little leeway to finish second or third even if he doesn’t win, while also giving bettors a big 35% advantage by my model (20.7% podium odds, +385 threshold profitability).

The bet: Kevin Harvick finishes in the top 3 +550 | bet on: +450

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