Big NASCAR Betting Anticipated As Races Return May 17


NASCAR is set to become one of the first major sports to return after a two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Action is set to begin on May 17, with three races at Darlington Raceway followed by two weeks of scheduled events.

As with the return of any major sports, the main goal is to keep competitors safe. In order to do this, league officials have changed up a few things that fans might not notice. However, races will still look the same.

NASCAR schedule for May

Sports bettors eager to place some bets on NASCAR races will be happy to know there will be seven races over an 11-day span beginning Sunday, May 17.

Here is what the schedule looks like thus far.

  • May 17 — Darlington Raceway — Cup Series
  • May 19 — Darlington Raceway — Xfinity Series
  • May 20 — Darlington Raceway — Cup Series
  • May 24 — Charlotte Motor Speedway — Cup Series
  • May 25 — Charlotte Motor Speedway — Xfinity Series
  • May 26 — Charlotte Motor Speedway — Trucks Series
  • May 27 — Charlotte Motor Speedway — Cup Series

New procedures for NASCAR

According to ESPN, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and state health officials, held conversations with NASCAR to determine the best and safest way racing could return.

One of the most noticeable differences with all May races will be the absence of fans.

Some, but not all, of the new procedures include:

  • Teams will be limited to 16 total members, including the driver.
  • Only licensed NASCAR team members will be permitted onto the racetrack and will be required to wear a cloth face mask at all times.
  • Garage work areas will be spread out to comply with social distancing requirements.
  • Pit crew members will use face screens in addition to normal gear.
  • There will be random temperature checks of everyone working in the garage area.
  • Anyone determined to be a potential virus threat will be required to leave and be replaced with another crew member.

NASCAR’s vice president of racing operations John Bobo said drivers and crew members will not receive COVID-19 tests because they are not widely available to the public.

Through a series of tweets, several high profile drivers like Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson, and Brad Keselowski have expressed their excitement for NASCAR’s return.

League officials have said there is a tentative schedule in place for June but anything past the May 17 return is subject to change.


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NASCAR Could Turn Virtual Monopoly In Betting Gains


As managing director of gaming for NASCAR, Scott Warfield is charged with devising ways to draft the stock car racing series out of the “other” category and into greater relevance as a sports betting market.

Warfield never expected it to happen this way: a global pandemic shutting down actual sports — and racing emerging as the best-equipped to fill the void with virtual contests featuring actual competitors.

After one week of eNASCAR being offered as a bettable market in Nevada and West Virginia, the returns have been modest, but not in line with the television audience the series has commanded. The benefit from this moment, Warfield hopes, could come when sports begin again post-COVID-19.

“Life’s funny, right? You go from having to scratch and claw your way on a lot of this stuff, the underdog a little bit,” Warfield pondered, “not as well-established handle and in my opinion, not a ton of creativity and innovation around the sport from a sports betting point of view, where it’s just basically been race winner and champion.

“And my argument all along has been it’s a chicken and egg and if there’s more creativity and more bet types and more innovation on that front, that the sport lends itself nicely. But between the state by state rollout and the opening of having to open new books and new states and all the other leagues, finding your spot is a challenge in this early inning of what I believe is going to be a long, a long game.

““Is it going to drive crazy handle? Probably not. But I think it’s helped with our relationship-build if nothing else.”

Momentum for eNASCAR

While the handle for the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series race from Bristol Motor Speedway last week was sparse at William Hill in Nevada, director of trading Nick Bogdanovich called the performance for the first weekend “very successful.”

“We took around 500 bets on eNASCAR this weekend and we’re really happy with that number since some were from bettors who traditionally bet NASCAR,” he told PlayUSA. “Handle, of course, doesn’t compare to traditional NASCAR.”

Adding to the sense of legal-market momentum, on Wednesday, Sugarhouse announced that it planned to offer eNASCAR betting in New Jersey, signaling a change of regulation in that state. New Jersey had just once allowed wagering on eSports before.

In-race markets key to NASCAR plan

The game, Warfield said, should change in this moment, saying he “100 percent” believes this virtual realm represents a laboratory moment for operators to develop interesting betting markets when actual racing returns, perhaps as early as the end of May, according to a report in The Athletic.

Warfield particularly wants to see the expansion of in-race and driver-vs-driver markets. The Nevada Gaming Control Board does not currently allow in-race markets, but in-play has become the understood future of America’s nascent sports betting market.

“This is the product there hasn’t been enough of outside of the [Daytona] 500,” he said. Kyle Busch vs. Kevin Harvick … This is an engaged fanbase, but they’re smart and they want a product that is interesting. So yes, it can be a testing ground that would help us a year from now around the Cup series. That’s the win for me.”

Warfield said the series updated its rulebook last week to exclude competitors and series employees from wagering on eNASCAR as well as real competitions.

Penn National Gaming, NASCAR re-boot fantasy game

Last week, NASCAR also relaunched a series of new fantasy and prop betting markets for the eNASCAR iRacing.com Pro Invitational Series through Penn Interactive. The Penn National Gaming subsidiary had already launched a free-play mobile game called NASCAR Finish Line after announcing a multi-year partnership with the stock car series in February.

The eNASCAR Fine Line app will serve as the entitlement brand for the May 3 race from virtual Dover International Speedway. Personalities from Barstool Sports, which sold a 36-percent stake to PNG earlier this year, are expected to be integrated into the presentation but details have not been revealed.

Finish Line players can win a $5,000 jackpot “by accurately predicting the top two finishers and the highest finishers across six different groupings of four drivers,” according to a release.

“I think the thought on putting the NASCAR Finish Line as the race entitlement for the Dover race, given [Penn National Gaming’s] recent purchase into Barstool and our marketing partnership with Barstool is how could we lean into the Barstool relationship a little bit when just like everyone else, [founder] Dave [Portnoy] and the boys are thirsting for some sports betting, whether it’s free-to-play or daily fantasy,” Warfield said. “So, we took the concept to our friends at Penn, as they were in the process of rebuilding the app and got Dover involved in a lot of those details.

SugarHouse debuts enascar betting on April 19

New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement spokesperson Kerry Langan confirmed that the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series had been added to the list of legal betting markets in that state as of Monday. The 2019 League of Legends World Championship Finals was the only other permissible eSports event as of Wednesday.

“We are happy to be able to offer such an exciting and competitive entertainment event,” Rush Street Interactive chief operating officer Mattias Stetz said in a release. “It’s also fun to see how these talented drivers will compare in the virtual world of competitive racing.”


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