UFC 251, NASCAR And Pro Soccer’s Return: They’re What To Bet On This Weekend

It’s a busy weekend of sports betting in New Jersey this weekend, featuring a packed Saturday night UFC 251 card plus NASCAR’s Quaker State 400 and soccer.

The debut of UFC Fight Island, the resumption of MLS and the continuation of NASCAR mark a stacked weekend wager plate for New Jersey online betting.

It’s quite a package. And there’s an odds boost on tap, too.

So let’s dive in.

UFC: Showcase of elites

Here’s the lineup of Saturday’s fights for UFC 251, which has sparked significance with three title bouts and a couple of rematches.

Below is a closer look at the odds from DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks in NJ. Odds are as of Friday (all times are EST).

Main card: DraftKings odds (10 p.m.)

UFC main cardFightersDraftKings Odds
Welterweight titleKamara Usman vs Jorge Masvidal-230 (Usman)
+185 (Masvidal)
Featherweight titleAlexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway-215 (Volkanovski)
+170 (Holloway)
Bantamweight titlePetr Yan vs Jose Aldo-225 (Yan)
+180 (Aldo)
RematchRose Namajunas vs Jessica Andrade-215 (Namajunas)
+175 (Andrade)
Opening boutAmanda Ribas vs Paige Van Zant -775 (Ribas)
+500 (Van Zant)

Top preliminary card bouts: FanDuel odds (8 p.m.)

UFC preliminary cardFightersFanDuel odds
205 lbsVolkan Oezdemir vs Jiri Prochazka-158 (Oezdemir)
+134 (Prochazka)
170 lbsMuslim Salikhov vs Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos-136 (Salikhov)
+116 (dos Santos)
145 lbsMakwan Amirkhani vs Dan Henry-215 (Amirkhani)
+180 (Henry)
155 lbsLeonardo Santos vs Roman Bogatov-178 (Santos)
+150 (Bogatov)

There are more preliminary bouts beginning at 6 p.m.

UFC fight overview

The number 6, 7 and 10 UFC pound-for-pound performers appear in the top two fights on Saturday’s card.

Usman, the number 6 pound-for-pound performer, defends his welterweight title against Masvidal.

The bout originated when Usman’s original opponent, Gilbert Burns, withdrew after testing positive for coronavirus. Masvidal had been lobbying for an Usman fight anyway, and he got it sooner than later.

Volkanovski and Holloway, the respective number 7 and 10 UFC pound-for-pound athletes, clash in a rematch. Volkanovski took away Holloway’s featherweight title with a convincing decision win last December.

Now Holloway wants it back from Volkanovski, a clear favorite.

Andrade vs Namajunas 2 is a rematch of an earlier Andrade victory, yet Andrade is a decided underdog. Both fighters are former strawweight division champions. Andrade is the number one division contender and Namajunas No. 2.

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UFC betting overview and a FanDuel odds boost

It’s been fun to watch the procession of betting all week in the main event.

Usman stood at -265 early in the week at DraftKings Sportsbook. But the money came in on Masvidal. The odds dropped again, to -225, and still more money, 67% of the handle and 57% of the bets, went down on Masvidal.

Odds dropped to -200 and, bingo, here came the Usman money, spiking the wager to -250. By Friday, it was -230.

Bettors have certain floors and ceilings they use to determine when to place a wager. That was showcased here.

Usman is considered a distance fighter, while Masvidal is aggressive and comes off a TKO victory against Nate Diaz in November.

Volkanovski is -110 at DraftKings for a repeat decision win, and Holloway is +275 to turn the tables and regain his title by decision.

The Namajunas–Andrade odds are striking. Andrade won their first encounter with a second-round knockout but remains a sizable underdog. Namajunas has been receiving about two-thirds of the money.

Bettors aren’t convinced that Andrade, who overcame being dominated in the first round before stopping Namajunas, can do it again.

Andrade being overlooked is a gift for her backers. FanDuel Sportsbook opened at Namajunas -200, and it got as low as -178 before jumping up to -190 on Friday. At DraftKings, she jumped to -215 on Friday.

Andrade is +175 at DraftKings and +160 at FanDuel as of Friday.

Both FanDuel and DraftKings have excellent odds boosts and promo enticements. In fact, FanDuel has a huge odds boost that’s worth a look for new sportsbook users. Here are the details:

  • 25/1 odds on any fighter to win their championship bout
  • $5 max bet required
  • Available in-app only

Once the new user registers, they will get a pop-up directing them to download the FanDuel Sportsbook app to claim the odds boost. The offer will appear on the user’s profile once they make a deposit.

There’s no reason not to chip in $5 for a chance at these odds.

MLS kicks into gear with abbreviated tournament

How much did you miss it?

Major League Soccer, aka MLS, returned this week, and here’s a game to get New Jersey sports betting fans back in the groove.

Saturday’s New York Red Bulls–Atlanta United game will draw interest, and DraftKings offers a packed slate of odds.

The Red Bulls are +255 on the moneyline against Atlanta, which is -104.

If the Red Bulls don’t produce the most goals, how about the most corners? That would be +190 for them and -175 for Atlanta. A tie in that department is +650.

The first goal? Atlanta is -175, the Red Bulls are +123.

Over 2.5 goals combined for the contest is -167.

There is a litany of correct score projections. A scoreless tie is +1400.

From the Atlanta perspective, a 2-1 loss is 10-1. A 2-1 win is +700.

There are numerous goal-scoring props for individual players, too. We won’t go into detail on that here, but suffice it to say, there are plenty of betting opportunities on MLS this weekend.

The MLS is Back Tournament is the first time the league is slated to play since the season was suspended due to COVID-19 on March 12. It kicked off July 8 and will run until Aug. 11.

The entirety of this tournament will be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports, where 54 matches (39 group stage, 15 knockout round) will be played.

All 26 MLS teams will be participating in the event, where the minimum of matches per club is set at three and the maximum is seven per finalist.

NASCAR betting: Are props where it’s at?

Kevin Harvick is doing something unusual with NASCAR. He’s moving the line.

The red-hot driver has captured two of the last three events, and his odds are dropping before the Quaker State 400 on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Harvick is +375 at FanDuel and +400 at DraftKings to win. He started the week at +575. Bettors who booked that early will be happy they got a deal.

Shoppers for Chase Elliott will see him at +800 at DraftKings, +550 at FanDuel. Denny Hamlin is +650 at DraftKings, +550 at Fan Duel.

Most of the top drivers are in negative numbers for a Top 10 finish (you are laying money on them and getting less than even money), so props may be a good source to bet.

Top manufacturers and top finishes in a group of four also provide betting allure by producing several races within the race.

With that in mind, Harvick’s hot streak propelled him to the top of the NASCAR driver standings. They look like this:

Kevin Harvick637
Chase Elliott552
Brad Keselowski549
Ryan Blaney534
Denny Hamlin528

And here are the manufacturers’ standings:


Some associations: Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney drive for Ford. Elliott is the top driver for Chevrolet. Hamlin is Toyota’s top threat.

Two of these sports — NASCAR and UFC — have thrived on repeated exposure and betting interest since their returns in May. MLS has a solid foundation with bettors and is enjoying its return to play.

And there’s more to come, with MLB and NBA planning late July resumptions.

Sports betting in NJ is finally on an upswing.

NASCAR, UFC And Soccer At NJ Sportsbooks: They’re What To Bet On This Weekend

The PGA Tour RBC Heritage golf tournament is in full swing, but don’t let that stop you from betting on NASCAR’s Geico 500 or Saturday’s UFC fight.

In early May, gamblers were starved for live events.

Now there’s a stacked weekend lineup for New Jersey online betting, regardless of what occurs in other sports.

A new niche — NASCAR, UFC and soccer, primarily Bundesliga — has emerged via consistent event scheduling since mid-May.

The English Premier League is back and will spike soccer action, too.

Yes, we know that the PGA Tour is back in action, with the RBC Heritage golf tournament in full swing. But let’s look beyond golf betting to a busy slate of other betting options ahead.

So without further ado, here’s what to bet on this weekend in New Jersey.

NASCAR Geico 500 betting in NJ

NASCAR holds its ninth Cup Series event since returning May 17.

The Geico 500 occurs Sunday at 3 p.m. on Fox from Talladega Speedway in Alabama.

The top drivers have been consistently in the money, with victories spread around.

For this week, at DraftKings Sportsbook (all odds as of June 18):

Chase Elliott, who has been consistent since NASCAR resumed a month ago, is the co-favorite.

Elliott is +900 to win, +275 for a top 3 finish.

Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have the same numbers.

Denny Hamlin is +1000 to win and +300 for the top 3.

Ryan Blaney is +1200 and +350 for the top 3.

New Jersey native Martin Truex Jr. is 16-1 and +450 for the top 3.

Head-to-head prop matchups are also popular. Kyle Busch vs Kevin Harvick is -115 either way.

Busch, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champ, has been underperforming relative to his odds. He was favored in the first set of NASCAR return races but hasn’t been in the top tier.

He’s becoming more of an underdog, reflecting recent performance.

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Top car manufacturer driver odds

The top manufacturer provides a betting sideshow. It’s a race inside the race, with bettors selecting the best individual Chevy, Ford or Toyota driver.

Elliott is +350 as the top Chevy driver at Talladega.

Keselowski and Logano are both +400 to head the Ford group. Harvick, interestingly, is +650.

Hamlin is +175 and Busch +225 for Toyota. Martin Truex Jr. is + 325.

At FanDuel, backers of Keselowski and Elliott find them at +1000, along with Hamlin and Logano. More wagering possibilities may arrive on that site closer to race time.

The shuffling NASCAR leaderboard

The standings for the top drivers are bunched. The leaders have been dependable for the bettors as Top 10 wagers.

  • Harvick leads the way with 463 points.
  • Elliott holds second with 455.
  • Logano is third with 434.

Keselowski has 412 for fourth. He has been a pleasant surprise for bettors relative to his odds since the circuit returned. Keselowski has been paying well.

Blaney is fifth with 411 points.

Elliott shows the way with five stages led, while Alex Bowman has four. Logano and Hamlin have three apiece.

This wager comes into view at PlaySugarHouse.com. The online book has the prop of any driver to win both stage 1 and 2 as +650 for yes and -1430 for no.

In the eight NASCAR competitions since the return of May 17, this is how the top drivers have fared:

  • Harvick — 2 wins
  • Hamlin — 2 wins
  • Keselowski — 2 wins
  • Elliott —  1 win

Martin Truex Jr. has one win—and New Jersey roots.

He grew up in Stafford Township, graduated from Southern Regional High School in 1998 and is the son of Martin Truex Sr., a former race winner in the Busch North Series.

Truex Jr. began his racing career driving go-karts at the New Egypt Speedway.

UFC: Another week, another card

The UFC has cranked out show after show since May 9. And NJ online gambling sites are pretty pleased with the betting turnout.

The next installment, on Saturday, features heavyweight Curtis Blaydes as a prohibitive favorite (-440 and rising) as he opposes Alexander Volkov (+320 at FanDuel as of Thursday).

The prelims begin at 6 p.m., the main card at 9 p.m., available at ESPN +.

Blaydes is ranked number three in the heavyweight division and Volkov is seventh, yet the odds remain large.

Blaydes also is prohibitive on the win line at -455 at DraftKings.

Bettors will have to survey the angles to find a wager here.

If you like to play off of what the board suggests, the bout is -430 to go the distance at FanDuel.

Combine Blaydes’ big odds and the over-under distance, and the early bettors expect a KO/TKO for Blaydes. He is -140 for that at FanDuel.

But if you want to try to guess the round, he is +280 for round one, +500 for round two and +900 for round three.

Volkov backers will seek the moneyline but may take a prop stab with him being +1300 for round one, +1300 for round 2 and +3600 for round three victories.

Blaydes has been a buzzsaw against anyone not named Francis Ngannou, who has beaten him twice.

Otherwise, Blaydes has won eight of his last nine, including a triumph over world-ranked Alistair Overeem. He comes off a second-round TKO of Junior dos Santos in January.

Volkov is less experienced in the UFC at 5-1. He scored a decision win over Greg Hardy in November.

Other events in UFC on Saturday

The co-main event is a featherweight showdown between No. 8 Josh Emmett and No. 10 Shane Burgos. Despite the lower ranking, Burgos is listed at -143 and Emmett +115 at DraftKings.

Three other fights mark the main card. Raquel Pennington is -170 vs Marion Reneau, +138, at DraftKings.

Belal Muhammad is -144 vs Lyman Good +118, at FanDuel.

Roosevelt Roberts is -240 at both books against Jim Miller, who ranges between +195 and +192.

Soccer betting variety pack

English Premier League is back!

What you need to know is that it’s Liverpool and then everybody else in this 20-team soccer pack. What’s more difficult is finding value at NJ sportsbooks.

When Liverpool plays, it usually lays close to -200, and opponents are often +400 and up.

In Bundesliga, Bayern Munich has won eight straight titles. It takes on Freiburg on Saturday.

RB Leipzig and Dortmund, the second- and third-best teams, are in action Saturday.

All games are at 9:30 a.m. FS1 carries Bayern-Munich, and FS2 has RB Leipzig-Dortmund.

And of course, for all the events listed above (including the PGA Tour), there are no spectators. So don’t expect to hear the roar of the crowd.

NJ Sports Betting Shows Signs Of Life With $117 Million May Handle

May will go down as another quiet month in the NJ sports betting world. Major pro sports were mostly shut down due to coronavirus pandemic, but Garden State bettors were not completely abandoned.

The  $117.8 million handle (all of which came via mobile/online) may not be eye-opening, but could have been much worse considering the current situation.

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And this figure more than doubles April’s handle of $54.6 million.

However, the latest figures from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement are way off what they would normally be.

Sports wagering gross revenue came in at $9.9 million, which is off 36.2% year over year.

Wagering Gross Revenue was $9.9 million for the month.

Factoring in Atlantic City casinos still being closed (eliminating retail operations), the results are not surprising.

And while live horse racing is back at the Meadowlands Racetrack, fans are still not permitted .

A little NJ sports betting is better than none

The reality is, the NJ sports betting industry could be in much worse shape than it is.

Think about it. Land-based casino revenue came in at $0 for the second month in a row. And as a result, total gaming revenue came in a $91.2 million. And that is off 65.8% from the same period last year.

The majority of the credit belongs to the NJ online casino industry that is hot off another record month of $85.9 million.

So without the MLB regular season or NBA and NHL playoffs, NJ bettors found alternatives such as the return of the UFC and NASCAR.

Year-to-date handle sits at $1,4 million. And this is slightly off from the $1.7 million reported from the same period last year.

FanDuel Sportsbook still leads the field

While the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands is silent, the mobile action is not. Meadowlands Racetrack, it’s land-based partner, reported a NJ sports betting best $4.2 million in revenue. PointsBet NJ accounts for a portion of it.

Resorts Digital continues to hold down the No. 2 spot with $3.8 million. DraftKings Sportsbook and Fox Bet NJ are included in this total, along with the self-branded app.

As far as the overall performance goes, here is a breakdown by license holder:

Property (Online)Online RevenueRetail RevenueMay Total
Bally's (Caesars, 888)$107,171($74,367)$32,804
Borgata (BetMGM, Borgata Sports)$701,283($6,957)$694,326
Golden Nugget (BetAmerica, GN Online)$54,433---$54,433
Hard Rock (Hard Rock online, Bet365 NJ, Unibet)$230,004---$230,004
Meadowlands (FanDuel, PointsBet)$4,288,003($56,620)$4,231,383
Monmouth (William Hill, SugarHouse, TheScore Bet)$466,142($5,669)$460,473
Ocean Resort (William Hill)$439,967($2,149)$437,818
Resorts (DraftKings, Fox Bet, Resorts Online)$3,766,305---$3,766,305
Tropicana (William Hill)$23,476($2,759)$20,717

Quiet celebration: NJ sports betting 2nd anniversary

Ironically, if it wasn’t for the coronavirus pandemic, the upcoming week would be a pretty big deal for NJ sports betting.

June 14 marks the second anniversary of the first legal sports bet placed in the Garden State. And some might remember Gov. Phil Murphy did the honors at Monmouth Park.

The sports wagering options may still be limited, as the NBA, NHL and MLB still working toward their respective post-pandemic restarts.

The good news is the PGA Tour season resumed yesterday with the Charles Schwab Challenge.

But with  the lights still out, celebrations will need to wait.

Hot summer days ahead

June will likely be another fairly quiet one for NJ sports betting.

NBA and NHL teams are returning to practice this month. The actual games, however,  are not scheduled to start until July.

And in the meantime, maybe just maybe, Major League Baseball will announce a restart plan.

Either way, late summer will include many more wagering options than normal. Call it the pre-cursor to NFL betting season.

Combine it with the pent-up demand for live events, and NJ sportsbooks could be looking at their best summer yet.

NASCAR And Bundesliga Soccer Have A Busy Weekend Ahead: It’s What To Bet On In NJ

Take your pick, NJ sports betting fans: NASCAR’s Supermarket Heroes 500 or a slate of Bundesliga soccer games. Oh and there’s a Fox Bet NJ special all weekend, too.

How do you handle an avalanche?

NASCAR racing and Bundesliga soccer bettors are among the first to juggle their bankrolls with a newly-emerging events glut.

Another opportunity — and challenge — await this weekend at New Jersey online sportsbooks, with both sports presenting extensive lineups.

NASCAR unfurls the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. (televised on FS1).

Bundesliga, the German soccer league imported to the books during the COVID-19 crisis, presents a systematic, deeply-rooted European sport embraced by the New Jersey population.

The league has a big Saturday lineup, albeit with teams the public hasn’t followed. Some of its bigger weekend games unfold at FS1, too.

And to top it all off, there’s a Fox Bet deal for NASCAR fans that will serve up just enough intrigue.

Read on for all the highlights of what to bet on this busy weekend.

Fox Bet Supermarket Heroes special: $50 in free bets

First off, let’s talk about that Fox Bet deal.

Starting Friday, May 29 through Sunday, May 31, new players signing up at Fox Bet NJ can get $50 in free bets.

All they have to do is bet $25 on the Supermarket Heroes 500, and win or lose, the reward is $50.

Of course, new players must have made a deposit to qualify. And the promo bet must be your first bet.

But bottom line, there will be $50 in free bets in your account on Monday. It’s as simple as that.

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NASCAR Supermarket Heroes 500

Now that we have you all fired up, let’s move on to the nitty-gritty details of Sunday’s big race.

Some NASCAR patterns at DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks have emerged from earlier races that can enable quick handicapping.

This will help bettors decide where to focus during Sunday’s Supermarket Heroes race, aka the Food City 500.

For one, the favorites usually go off in the 5-1 neighborhood and the odds board doesn’t change much.

The top 10 is a good place to scout talent, regardless of the race. Here were the points leaders after Memorial Day weekend.

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Alex Bowman
  4. Chase Elliott
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Martin Truex Jr
  7. Ryan Blaney
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Kyle Busch
  10. Aric Almirola

Values and story lines in NASCAR betting

The drivers finishing in the top three will usually provide more than +100. Someone like Harvick in the top 10, however, forces you to lay odds.

This may appeal to a big-money player, oddly enough. It can resemble a horse-racing bettor going heavy on a favorite to show (third place or higher). The return is small, but the chance of a collection is high. The key is the leverage of the big bet, coupled with the high success probability.

Busch has often been the pre-race favorite upon NASCAR’s return but may be overbet. Through Memorial Day, he was often in the money without winning.

The reigning Cup Series champ may gain heavy play in the Supermarket Heroes race because he’s won this race the last two years. But Busch isn’t hitting on all cylinders yet.

This race will be a good barometer of where he’s at.

It’s also key to match the driver with the car when you consider prop bets involving either which manufacturer will deliver the winning vehicle or which driver of each brand.

Manufacturers have standings, too. Here’s how they are paired:

  • Ford: 261 points (Harvick, Logano, Keselowski, Blaney, Almirola)
  • Chevy: 236 points (Bowman, Elliott)
  • Toyota: 236 points (Truex, Hamlin, Busch)

Recent NASCAR history worth noting, too

Matt Kinseth, who recently came out of retirement, won the Supermarket Heroes event in 2015.

Carl Edwards and Jimmy Johnson prevailed the next two years. The last two races have belonged to Busch.

Certain factors will impact the handicapping, too. Joe Gibbs Racing has prevailed in this race four of the last five years.

So has Toyota as the manufacturer. Chevy owns more wins in this event than its competitors, with 23, but Toyota is on the hot streak.

On the flip side, there’s Bundesliga betting

The Bundesliga is one of the top leagues in Europe.

It returned on May 16 to wagering fanfare and some of its bigger weekend games are shown on Fox. PlaySugarHouse Sportsbook offered extensive betting options in advance this week.

The league structure may provide a glimpse into wagering.

For over-under bettors, Bundesliga has averaged a shade over three goals per game since returning on May 16.

The league has 18 teams and a clear-cut demarcation of power.

Bayern Munich, which has won more championships than any team (28) sits atop the standings.

The group right behind includes:

  • Dortmund
  • RB Leipzig
  • Leverkusen
  • Munchengladbach

Bayern entered the week with the most goals scored, 80, in 27 games, essentially three per contest. It defeated top rival Dortmund 1-0 earlier this week, showing that it can play low-scoring affairs, too.

When leagues have been off, the scoring is often slightly higher right after they return and then slowly comes down. That has also happened here.

The worst defensive teams in the league allow just more than two goals per game. They include:

  • Mainz
  • Dusseldorf
  • Werder
  • Paderborn

Bundesliga weekend games to watch for

How will that play out this weekend? Bayern is at Dusseldorf (Fox) on Saturday, at 12:30 p.m. The pure stats would suggest a chance of five goals being scored, if the game was played exactly to form, based on how many each team has tallied to date.

Compare that with what the over-under eventually becomes. If you see the total goals over-under at 3.5 or 4, there’s a lean to the over bet. If you see 4.5 or more, there is no perceived edge.

Another hunch may occur in the goal-differential department. Bayern is the class of the league with a differential of 52. It essentially wins by an average of two goals. That could come into play regarding a margin-of-victory line.

Most of the also-ran teams play each other Saturday. It will be interesting to see where those games end up. The first four are at 9:30 a.m. ET.

  • Hertha Berlin takes on FC Augsburg
  • Mainz battles TSG Hoffenheim
  • Schalke 04 takes on Werder Bremen
  • Vfl Wolfsburg battles Eintracht Frankfurt
  • Bayern Munich goes against Fortuna Dusseldorf (12:30 p.m. FS1)

This is an unprecedented wagering feast in soccer.

Few gamblers win long term by betting on every event. But getting a feel for the circuit will help narrow the choices.

What To Bet In NJ This Weekend: NASCAR & The Coca Cola 600

NASCAR is back for another week off racing and gambling action. Get Coca Cola 600 odds and which sportsbooks have NASCAR betting in NJ.

Here comes the meat of the NASCAR resumption schedule.

New Jersey bettors enjoyed a slew of headline races this week at Darlington Raceway, including the first Wednesday event since 1984, as NASCAR blitzes through an 11-day, seven-event rescheduling.

The scene shifts to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday for the Coca Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, Fox), the longest event on the circuit.

It begins a four-day run of races at the same facility.

The race stretch includes a 300-mile Xfinity Series competition on Memorial Day, a 200-mile Gander Trucks race on May 26 and a 500-kilometer race the next night.

The Cup Series is the most widely known and is the top tier of NASCAR racing.

NASCAR Coca Cola 600 best bets

The Coca Cola 600 entails 400 laps of 1.5 miles.

Given the start time of 6 p.m., it has three distinct looks. The race begins in sunlight, transfers into dusk and concludes fully under the lights.

Here are the most popular betting choices, according to DraftKings Sportsbook (as of May 21):

  • Kyle Busch +400 to win, +125 for a Top 3 finish
  • Kevin Harvick +550, +150
  • Martin Truex Jr. +600, +160
  • Brad Keselowski +800, +225
  • Joey Logano +800, +225

New Jersey sportsbook odds shoppers, here’s a discrepancy if you like a particular driver.

Denny Hamlin, who won the rain-shortened Toyota 500 on Wednesday, is +900 at FanDuel and +1100 at DraftKings. If you are inclined to bet on Hamlin, that’s strong value.

Other hot names to consider

Truex Jr. is the defending champion and has won two of the past four years. Austin Dillon prevailed in 2017 and Busch in 2018.

Sportsbooks offer an array of bet choices. They will vary by race popularity, but most will have enticing side-betting choices via stage leaders, four-car groups, leading manufacturer, top performer by manufacturer and head-to-head betting.

These help provide a gambler a race within a race.

Overall, big names are doing well but the compressed schedule allows the chance for some longshots to sneak into the lower spots while some of the top names decide to skip a race or two.

Racing names to keep an eye on

Otherwise, there are a few names you can wager with confidence.

Harvick has been automatic as a contender, going 6-for-6 in the top 10. He’s also the points leader with 258 and has a win, along with four finishes in the top five.

Because of that, however, odds often reflect negative numbers for him (you are laying odds) on the top-10 finish, but you can still get plus numbers (better than an even-money return) for a top-three finish.

Logano is second in the standings with 224 points. He has two victories, two top five finishes, and three top 10 efforts.

Alex Bowman, with one victory, two top-five, and two top-ten placements, is third with 219 points.

Hamlin, fresh off a victory this week, has two wins, three top-five and four top-10 efforts. He’s sitting in fourth with 201 points.

Chase Elliott, with two top-fives and three top-10s, holds the fifth spot with 192 points.

Coca Cola 600 prop bets worth noting

Although top drivers are consistent in-the-money performers, they take turns winning.

That’s why some props deserve a second look.

Elliott hasn’t won yet this year but has led more stages than anyone (three). You can be rewarded for taking a driver who runs well for even part of the race.

Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer have also performed well without winning. Bowyer became the first driver of the season to both the first and second stages of the same race on Wednesday.

This usually pays above 10-1 for those who can anticipate that.

The whirlwind of events has changed some of the prop-bet preparation. Sportsbooks usually post the upcoming race and that’s it.

For this weekend’s races, the props like stage leaders, head-to-heads and manufacturers bet will unfold closer to the race.

This will be the norm going forward.

More NASCAR races to bet on

NASCAR’s second installment of its revised schedule indicates 12 races will be run across three premier series’ — the NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Truck Series, between May 30 and June 21.

Busch, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, has indicated he wants to run in all of the makeup races.

So far, Busch hasn’t caught up to the faith supplied by his backers. He has not won yet in 2020, yet bettors continue to make him the race favorite. At varied sportsbooks, he’s been the choice in the first three Cup Series return races.

Those betting against Busch have been rewarded because he has not prevailed.

Those betting on Busch believe that, any race now, he’ll recapture 2019 form. And maybe at a price.

NASCAR’s Cup Series early return belonged to Harvick and Hamlin. Harvick captured the Real Heroes 400 on May 17, securing his 50th career victory to join Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett at 12th on the all-time wins list. Richard Petty towers above the group with 200.

Hamlin became the season’s second multi-time winner, capturing the rain-shortened Toyota 500 Wednesday night at Darlington Raceway.

Also on tap this weekend: Korean baseball

NASCAR isn’t the only big-ticket event this weekend. Korean Baseball has caught on with New Jersey bettors, in lieu of Major League Baseball.

The NC Dinos are off to a strong start at 12-2 and trying to make a statement about dominating the league this year. They have leaped out ahead of the LG Twins and defending champion Doosan Bears.

The upcoming lines offer no built-in edges. Most of the over-under lines are at 9.5 or 10.5 runs.

Here is the weekend slate of games you can see, and bet.

Saturday, May 23, 4 a.m.: ESPN — Doosan Bears vs. Samsung Lions (live)

Sunday, May 24, 1 a.m.: ESPN — Hanwha Eagles vs. NC Dinos (live)

New Jersey Sports Betting Fans Restart Your Apps: NASCAR Is Back

New Jersey sports betting customers can escape their suspended animation Sunday when NASCAR resumes its season with a high-intensity fervor.

Following UFC‘s lead, which returned May 9 with a three-event, eight-day lineup, NASCAR scheduled seven events in 11 days.

It starts at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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NASCAR betting at NJ Sportsbooks

Fans can bet at New Jersey gambling sites on drivers to win outright, against each other via head-to-head and group matchups and by the car manufacturer.

Here’s the early betting lineup for Sunday, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

DriverTo WinIn The Top 3In The Top 10
Kyle Busch+550+150-335
Kevin Harvick+550+150-335
Denny Hamlin+675+175-250
Martin Truex+750+225-240
Joey Logano+800+250-225
Erik Jones
(Defending Champion)

Other notables to watch include:

  • Brad Keselowski
  • Chase Elliott
  • Alex Bowman
  • Ryan Blaney

FanDuel Sportsbook also favors Harvick and Busch at +500. Hamlin and Logano are +750. Keselowski is +800 and Elliott is +850.

FanDuel also has odds up for the following Sunday, the CocaCola 600 at Charlotte.

Busch is the +350 favorite. Truex is +470. Harvick is +800.

NASCAR betting trends

Big names are expensive when it comes to betting them in the Top 10. That’s understandable.

But there is also a Top 5 prop that has reasonable odds for Busch, the pre-race co-favorite. A top-five finish is – 115 for yes or no. That’s an interesting consideration for his backers.

Do you want to hedge the +550 bet from the win line?

Even the +150 for a top 3 spot? Back it up with a wager in the Top 5 for close to even money.

Busch has been dependable as an in-the-money candidate. He hasn’t won in four starts but has two Top 5 and two Top 10 finishes.

Something that might interest bettors is the top finisher by car manufacturer.

Chevy has 17 entries and Elliot is the favorite at +250. Bowman is next at +400.

Ford, with Harvick as the +230 favorite, has 14 spots. Logano is next at +300.

Toyota, with Busch as the +215 chalk, has seven confirmed.

This is a great wager with a high upside. You have dramatically reduced the entire field and only have to prevail inside of one group. This is the equivalent of a marathon that awards prizes based on age group.

One can hedge the bet on a favorite driver by selecting a couple of entries by the manufacturer. Getting plus numbers on Busch, Harvick and Elliot is already nice.  But this scenario also encourages mid-range longshots in this category.

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The stage is set

Sunday’s race is scheduled to be a 293-lap race around the four-turn, 1.366-mile  oval.

The first stage is set to end after lap 90 and the second to end after lap 185.

Picking a stage 2 winner is a crapshoot, like selecting the second-half winner of an NFL game that has multiple teams. Nonetheless, the bet is up there and Busch, at +650, leads the way.

There are also several matchups of four different drivers, matched according to their perceived ability levels. That’s an interesting diversion in case the race is dominated by big names.

Matt Kenseth comes out of retirement for this race. He is in a class of drivers that includes Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, and David Pearson as the only competitors to win a Cup Series championship, rookie of the year award and the Daytona 500.

NASCAR getting up to speed

Through the first four races of the season, Harvick leads the pack with 164 points, followed by:

  • Logano (163)
  • Elliott (144)
  • Busch (111)

Will there be any post-season this year? Or simply a few races?

That’s to be determined.

After this one, Darlington will hold an Xfinity series race May 19, at 200 miles.

The Cup series events return May 20 at Darlington, at 500 kilometers, before the scene shifts to Charlotte, N.C. There will be one race there, every day, May 24-27.

In the near term, NASCAR wants to schedule as many races as possible in the Charlotte vicinity, where the majority of race teams are located. That eliminates most travel-related health-concern issues associated with running multiple races in one week.

The immediate package includes :

  • Cup
  • Trucks
  • Xfinity

Beyond May? It will be an evolving dynamic.

Here’s what’s established so far.

NASCAR schedule

May 17CupDarlington400 miles
May 19XfinityDarlington200 miles
May 20 CupDarlington500 kilometers
May 24CupCharlotte600 miles
May 25XfinityCharlotte300 miles
May 26TrucksCharlotte200 miles
May 27CupCharlotte500 kilometers