Everyone loves a good longshot bet, right? Especially one at 150-to-1 odds.
We’ve seen two road course races thus far during the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season–Circuit of the Americas and Sonoma–with the third coming up this weekend at Road America. And with limited cars and parts for the NextGen car, it’s pretty clear which teams and drivers are the fastest on this track type this year (hello, Trackhouse Racing!) and that probably won’t change, especially this weekend.
It’s also pretty clear which teams are struggling, and that honor goes to (surprisingly) Joe Gibbs Racing–and, by extension, 23XI Racing. Essentially, the Toyotas. Looking at the Green Flag Speed metric, no Toyota cracked the top 10 at COTA (Martin Truex, Jr. was best at 14th-fastest), and at Sonoma, it was the same story (Denny Hamlin was best at 12th-fastest).
With that being said, there is a driver within the Toyota fleet that has shown better-than-expected speed but has run into some bad luck. That driver? Bubba Wallace.
Bubba Wallace Top Toyota +15000
We were used to mid-20s or mid-30s finishes out of Wallace when he first got into the Cup Series, but last season, his first in a Toyota with 23XI Racing, he (very surprisingly) came home 14th at Sonoma, 13th at Indy Road Course, and 14th at the Charlotte ROVAL.
Flash forward to 2022 and the finishes say that Bubba is struggling once again–he was 38th at COTA and 36th at Sonoma–but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. The #23 Toyota had suspension issues at COTA and an engine failure at Sonoma.
So let’s look at Green Flag Speed. At COTA, Bubba ranked 22nd in that metric, and then at Sonoma he was 14th-best in that metric, which ended up being the 2nd-fastest out of all Toyotas.
That’s why it was a bit surprising to see Caesars offering Bubba Wallace Top Toyota at 150-to-1 odds. This implies a less than 1% chance of happening, although it’s been clear that the Bubba and his #23 car are nowhere near that much slower than the rest of the Toyota fleet on road courses this year.
Plus, all Wallace has to do on Sunday is finish ahead of five other drivers. Not only could this potentially happen on speed alone, but a few pit strategy calls at the end of the race (which we have seen happen at Road America before) could easily put Bubba as the top Toyota once the checkered flag waves.
For full transparency, I’m not expecting to win this bet, but I couldn’t pass up 150-to-1 odds on a driver to beat out just five other competitors. I’d honestly go down to 75/1 or so on this bet and still feel comfortable. Even looking at just practice times, Bubba was the 3rd-fastest Toyota at Sonoma and the 4th-fastest Toyota at COTA.