NASCAR is diversifying its betting markets, which should come as a welcome surprise to North Carolinians anticipating the launch of online sports betting as early as Jan. 8, 2024.
NASCAR has led the pack in integrating legal sports betting into its business model, and with the Tar Heel State poised to enter the sports betting fray, another fertile market has emerged for the league to expand its footprint.
NCSharp spoke with Joe Solosky, managing editor of sports betting at NASCAR, to glean some insights into what North Carolina sports betting means for the racing circuit and discuss some of the top NASCAR betting markets.
The tried-and-true betting markets for NASCAR
For seasoned NASCAR fans and newcomers alike, North Carolina’s legalization of online sports betting adds additional intrigue to the sport – one that builds on lifelong fandom and enhances awareness, appreciation and excitement.
While betting has always gone hand in hand with stock car racing, most of the sport’s gambling history occurred in the shadows. Gov. Roy Cooper signing House Bill 347 provides an above-board framework for NASCAR fans 21 and over to enhance their viewing experience through legal NASCAR betting markets.
There are many NASCAR betting markets for a racing fan to enjoy, but Solosky has earmarked a few that the league has found particularly successful.
“Outright winner has been and will likely remain the most popular for some time,” Solosky said. “We’ve seen an increase in head-to-head matchups supported by our Fantasy platform and the recent push towards brackets in the sport. There’s a lot of testing we’ll do on new markets in the second half of the season, but we want these new markets to make sense in terms of relevancy of when fans are seeing them. I think the tried and true markets of winner, Top 5, Top 10 in smaller lap cycles will lend itself well to the growth of our in-race offering.”
Leading with the top markets of Race Winner, Top 5 and Top 10 work well to bring in new fans and create some comfort with betting on auto racing. This, though, is just the starting point.
In the last few seasons, NASCAR has expanded its offerings. Head-to-head matchups were one such market that allowed NASCAR fans to pit two drivers against each other, wagering on who performed better in a given race. This fantasy-sports-focused market created a good crossover for fans entering the market through DFS and traditional fantasy leagues.
Now, NASCAR betting markets are seeking a different form of expansion.
NASCAR aims to extend betting opportunities
While the classic bet types will always draw the attention of NASCAR bettors, the sport is trying to extend the betting window beyond just the day of the race.
One way NASCAR has attempted this is through the aforementioned bracket-style betting.
NASCAR betting brackets are an emerging market and one that NASCAR is looking into as it integrates the fan viewing experience with the fan sports betting experience. Taking a page from the universally popular NCAA bracket challenge, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin rolled out a bracket challenge over five weeks and five races.
It’s easy to see why this model would be one that NASCAR seeks to pursue; it keeps racing fans engaged for several weeks, as opposed to standard wagers that hook bettors for a race. Solosky agreed.
“While many books have offered head-to-head matchups for the past few years,” he said, “the increased popularity of bracket-style games could only bolster their growth.”
Bracket-style betting on NASCAR is a twist on a standard March Madness bracket. With stock car racing, however, the seeds of multiple races are placed into respective head-to-head match-ups across a series of succeeding events. Hamlin’s bracket featured races at Kansas, Darlington, Charlotte, Gateway and Sonoma.
Brackets are one way NASCAR is trying to extend the betting window. Solosky sees betting potential in practice and qualifying as well.
“In an effort to make NASCAR a week-long betting opportunity, we’re hoping to see an increase in practice and qualifying offerings,” Solosky said.
Whether it’s giving fans betting options that span the week leading up to the race or a stretch of weeks/races, extending the NASCAR betting window creates increased visibility and awareness of the sport.
North Carolina enters the sports betting fray
While North Carolina NASCAR enthusiasts will be unable to place online wagers on this year’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway – they can place in-person wagers at the sportsbooks in the state’s three tribal casinos – North Carolina will likely become a destination for sports betting in 2024.
What’s more, with Charlotte being the center of the NASCAR universe, North Carolina’s intense auto racing fanbase could bring the state the title of King of NASCAR sports betting.
Image Credit: Steven Senne / AP Photo