Joey Logano was a difficult driver to handicap in 2020. He won two races early at Las Vegas in Week 2 and Phoenix in Week 4. Fully guaranteed a spot in the playoffs no matter how many other drivers won during the season, the results began to slip for the rest of the regular season.
A familiar refrain to regular readers is this: When a driver wins that early, he is often a bad value immediately following because the team begins to experiment. Logano’s team apparently experimented all the way until the playoffs began.
The team runs the risk of losing their momentum, and the savviest among them avoid the temptation, but until they establish a pattern of excellence once more – they should be avoided.
A hypothetical $10 bet would have built up enough of a cushion so that Logano was in the black until Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Week 16. After that, bettors would be in the red for the remainder of the season unless they abandoned the 2018 Cup Champion.
Handicappers tried to get some action moving on Logano. His three-week average odds went from about +725 to +1600 through the regular season. He rebounded during the playoffs as they began to wonder if the No. 22 team had been sandbagging until this point.
After spending 10 of the final 13 regular season races above the +1000 mark, he opened the playoffs with lower odds. Handicappers continued to worry about his odds at Darlington in the first playoff race of the Round of 16, but they put him at lower than 10/1 odds at Richmond International Raceway, Bristol Motor Speedway, and in Las Vegas’ second race.
Logano continued to fail to cover the odds and kept losing money until he finally won his third and final race at Kansas Speedway with +1300 odds. Even that was not enough to cover the losses to date.
Joey Logano’S BIGGEST 2020 PAYDAY: (Kansas 2, +1300)
That Logano was difficult to handicap is evident in his odds to win the Championship. When the regular season was in the books – and largely because of his mediocre runs until and through Daytona 2 – he came in with +900 odds. As it became increasingly apparent he would advance through NASCAR’s rounds, his odds steadily improved.
As the season hit the Round of 8, his odds to win the Cup improved. After his playoff win at Kansas, his odds to win it all dropped from +425 to +350 – then +270 after Texas Motor Speedway. By the third race of the Round of 8, he was as low as +260. Barely doubling one’s money made him a hard choice to bet on for Phoenix 2.
As it turned out, that was the right choice.
A big part of the reason behind his +260 odds was undoubtedly his Phoenix 1 win. But he finished third in the Season Finale 500k and was behind two other playoff contenders.
The variables change each year, but Logano’s best seasons in the points have little to do with his ability to win individual races. And that is a big concern to bettors. His two best seasons in regard to wins netted five victories in 2014 and six in 2015, but he was only fourth and sixth in the standings. His championship season of 2018 saw three wins. So did his second-place points finish in 2016.
Logano is good on a lot of tracks, but his stats are not great anywhere in the past three seasons. His best track in the past three years was Chicagoland Speedway, where he has a 5.5 in two races. Unfortunately, Chicagoland has been removed from the schedule to make room for more road courses.
Another similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track, Las Vegas is next with a 6.0 in six attempts. Auto Club Speedway netted a 6.3 in three starts – but again, they are not on the 2021 calendar and will reportedly host only one more race as a two-mile course before reconfiguring as a Bristol-style short track.
Where bettors will want to pencil Logano in will be the two short, flat tracks. He has a three-year average finish of 6.8 in five races at Richmond and a 6.83 in six races at Martinsville.
Texas (7.2 in six), Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval (7.17 in three), the site of his first win New Hampshire (7.33 in three), Michigan International Speedway (8.0 in six), and Darlington Raceway (8.6 in five) are your next best opportunities to start him.