Nascar may be an unfamiliar sport to some people but the series is one of the most popular in North America.
You may have seen video clips of Nascar before and not really understood what’s going on. That would be fair, as Nascar is a whirlwind sport the first time you watch it. Some even think it's more exciting than Formula 1, for which we have written a detailed Formula 1 betting guide.
But fans of Nascar will tell you that it is actually a very simple sport and one you can easily get into. Indeed, some of the best moments in motorsport have happened at Nascar races and the sport attracts many of the top drivers on the planet.
So what is Nascar and how can you bet in it? This guide will take you through the intricacies of the sport, from its early days through to modern times. You will learn how the Nascar series works, who are the best Nascar drivers and how to bet on Nascar.
Once you’ve ready through this guide, you should be more confident in betting on Nascar and understanding how to follow a season.
What is Nascar?
Nascar is a motorsport that features stock cars. The sport is over 70 years old and there are a number of series that compete throughout a season. The biggest series is the NASCAR Cup Series, which consists of a staggering 36 races over a 10-month season. This is the series we will follow in this guide.
There are around 19 teams in a Nascar Cup Series season, with each team able to race four cars. However, many teams only have one driver or two per race, while other teams may stretch to three or four. The teams share many of the same car manufacturers — such as Chevrolet, Ford or Toyota — but work on the cars themselves to suit their preferences.
A Nascar racetrack is a tarmac oval which the drivers will race around. The driver who completes the allotted number of laps first wins the race. But collisions are regular in Nascar racing and it can be dangerous. Drivers will earn a place on the starting grid through qualifying, where they race on their own and not alongside anyone else.
Once qualifying is complete, the next day the race will begin. The drivers line up on the track and compete in the first Stage of the race. You can see the stages below.
A Nascar race is segmented into three stages:
- Stage 1 - 60 laps
- Stage 2 - 60 laps
- Stage 3 - 80 laps
Using a stage system in Nascar means points can be awarded to drivers who win certain stages. This creates greater excitement and more opportunities to bet on Nascar.
The Nascar scoring system works as follows. The Stage 1 winner will earn 10 points plus a playoff point, with second place earning nine points. This works down to 10th place, who earns one point. In Stage 2, the same scoring system applies.
But Stage 3 is different. Here, the race consists of roughly half of the overall laps and the winner of this race wins the meet. They will earn 40 points for the regular season, with second place earning 35 points, third place earning 34 points, etc. If you win a race, you automatically get a place in the Nascar playoffs at the end of the season, as well as five playoff points.
Nascar playoffs explained
The Nascar playoffs take place at the end of the regular season. Drivers will have earned points throughout the campaign, and those who have earned the most — or who have won a race — make the playoffs. The playoffs take place after the first 26 races of the season, with all race winners plus the next four highest qualifying drivers competing in the competition.
Sixteen cars battle it out in the first race of the playoffs to reach the last-12. Then the last-eight and finally the last-four. This final race will determine which driver is the Nascar champion for that season.
How to bet on Nascar
Unibet offers plenty of Nascar betting markets and here are the main ones to keep an eye on if you’re new to the sport.
Race and Stage win
This is the simplest form of Nascar bet and probably the one you would start with if new to the sport. The race win is simply the bet on who you think will win the race. Remember that in Nascar there are three stages to a race, so there may also be a chance to bet on Stage winners. To place a bet of this type, simply make your decision on who you think will win the Stage or race, and click on their name in the correct market. You will see their odds appear and you can choose the stake you want to make. You will always see your potential payout if the bet wins.
- Example: You believe Kevin Harvick will win for Stewart-Haas Racing at Fort Worth, Texas. You place a £1 bet on the driver at 5.00. If you win, you earn £5!
This is the other key Nascar bet type offered at Unibet. You can bet on the season champion of Nascar all year round. We have a market that covers every driver competing in the Nascar Cup Series that year. In 2019 there were 30 drivers to bet on during the series, with odds ranging from 5.00 to 5001.00.
Be aware that Nascar betting odds on the season champion change throughout the year. Towards the start of the season, individual drivers will have high odds as there is no knowing who will emerge as a title contender. But by the halfway stage you can roughly work out the contenders from their odds and their position in the playoff race.
The beauty of Nascar is that the final race is never certain. So even if a driver has excelled all year, they might not be crowned champion. Therefore, when considering a season-long bet like this, look at how healthy the odds are too. You might want to follow a driver with higher initial odds, as they can always come down.
- Example: You bet on Joey Logano at the start of the 2018 Nascar Cup Series at 14.00. He went on to win the title and you win your bet!
When do Nascar races take place?
The Nascar season runs between February and November each year, with the other two remaining months usually reserved for testing and development. Races take place either on the Saturday or Sunday of a race meet, with teams arriving at the circuit a few days before for practice and qualifying.
Famous races in Nascar include the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600, the Southern 500 and the Brickyard 400. The Daytona 500 is certainly the most famous and attracts the most outside attention from non-Nascar fans and media.
What is ‘The Big One’ in Nascar?
You might have heard of the phrase ‘The Big One’ when it comes to Nascar. But it is such a commonly-used phrase that many commentators will not explain what it means anymore. ‘The Big One’ refers to a situation in a Nascar race where five or more drivers crash into each other. Many Nascar fans like to watch for the crashes, while others get frustrated that it interrupts the flow of the race.
Whatever your view, it’s fair to say Nascar crashes are part of what makes this sport’s identity. Unlike Formula 1, Nascar cars are allowed to bump and shove each other, which is why crashes can happen. Crashes can be extremely serious and races will be stopped for a period of time after big collisions, much like in F1 or IndyCars.
Who are the best Nascar drivers?
Since 2018 there have been just three Nascar drivers to earn a record seven championships. They are Ricard Petty (’64 to ’79), Dale Earnhardt (’80 to ’94) and Jimmie Johnson (’06 to ’16). Johnson himself holds the record for consecutive Nascar titles, winning five straight between 2006 and 2010. He races the No 48 card for Honda, which he has made iconic in the sport.
The 2010s decade was dominated by Johnson and a number of one-time winners, with Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr and Joey Logano picking up championships.
The emergence of more one-time winners has come with the development of Nascar into a stage race series with playoffs determining the winner at the end. The idea is that it keeps fans interested for the entire season, as opposed to a simply points system where the championship could be over after two-thirds of the campaign.
Bet on Nascar
Now you know a bit more about Nascar it’s time to check out the Unibet sportsbook and see which races are coming up! Remember, you can bet on Nascar with Unibet all season, just by signing up or logging in to your account today.