In the first of two back-to-back weekends of Sprint Cup racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the series takes a break from the point-race schedule for the annual Sprint All-Star Race.
The first third of the Sprint Cup series 2016 point-race schedule came to a close last Sunday with Matt Kenseth claiming his first checkered flag of the season with a victory at Dover. Kyle Larson and Chase Elliot made a strong run at winning their first ever career point race by taking second and third.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites to win this Saturday night's All-Star Race along with my top value sports pick.
Top Valued Favorite
There is a trio of drivers listed at +700 to win on Saturday night including heavyweights Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson, but I am going with Kyle Busch as my top pick. He has easily been the most consistent driver in the Sprint Cup series this season through the first 12 point-race events behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota. Along with a trio of victories at Martinsville, Texas and Kansas, he has also posted six additional finishes in the Top 5. Busch is still looking to add an All-Star Race title to his resume, but he has come close over the past several seasons with four finishes of sixth-place or higher in the last five events.
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Top Valued Contender
Denny Hamlin's thrilling victory at Daytona to start the season followed by a pair of third-place runs at Phoenix and Fontana are becoming a fading memory with just two Top 10 runs in his last seven Sprint Cup events, but I still like the value in his +1200 betting odds to win this race. Hamlin has always been the kind of driver that has a chance to win anytime he is behind the wheel of the No. 11 Toyota and he has the added value of coming in as the defending All-Star Race champ. This followed four finishes inside the top seven drivers in four of his previous six All-Star runs.
Top Valued Longshot
Searching for value in the longest odds posted for this race has led me to Kasey Kahne at +2000. His once promising Sprint Cup career has been on a downswing the past few seasons, but he still offers value as a longshot that has a legitimate shot at upsetting the field in a lower-lap specialty race. Kahne is coming off a solid fourth-place finish at Dover last week and he also took fourth at Richmond a few weeks back. As far as the No. 5 Chevy's recent performance in this race, he placed in the Top 10 in three of the last four seasons and he does have a victory in this event on his resume when he won the 2008 Sprint All-Star Challenge.
Betting Odds for other Notable Drivers
As mentioned, both Harvick and Johnson are listed as +700 favorites to win followed by a group of four drivers at +1000 betting odds. That list includes last week's winner Matt Kenseth along with two-time winner this year Carl Edwards. They are joined by Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. Joining Hamlin at +1200 is Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski, who is also a multiple winner this year. Rounding-out the group of notables is veteran Sprint Cup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rookie Chase Elliott at +1500 betting odds.