Watkins Glen in Upstate New York is the place to be this Sunday for the running of the Cheez-It 355 and our expert handicapper provides his insight on this exciting race.
Chris Buescher paid off big as a +2500 ‘field bet' in last week's Sprint Cup race at Pocono in his first career win racing in this series. Brad Keselowski ended up second and Regan Smith was another surprise for bettors with a third-place finish.
Top Valued Favorite
Kyle Busch is one of two Sprint Cup drivers to post a victory in four separate point race events this season and I am going with his +600 betting odds as my top favorite to add another one to the 2016 resume this Sunday on this road course. His last victory driving the No. 18 Toyota was just two weeks ago at Indianapolis and in the first road course race this season at Sonoma he placed seventh. This team has now finished 10th or better in 14 of the first 21 point race events on the schedule. Busch is also an attractive NASCAR pick at these odds with a victory at Watkins Glen in 2013 as part of a run in which he has placed eighth or better in seven of his last eight runs around this road course.
Top Valued Contender
Another Sprint Cup driver that has had quite a bit of success on road courses during his racing career is veteran Tony Stewart. After a very quiet start, he is making the most of his final season in the Sprint Cup series with a victory on the road course at Sonoma along with three Top 5 finishes in his last four point race events. His betting odds to add a sixth career victory at Watkins Glen this Sunday have been set at +1200 and I see quite a bit of value in that number. While his last few runs on this course have been pretty much forgettable, you cannot help but feel that the No. 14 Chevrolet will be right in the mix this time around.
Top Valued Longshot
Time is starting to run out for rookie sensation Chase Elliott when it comes to notching a Sprint Cup win to secure a spot in this year's Chase. Driving the No. 24 Chevrolet, he does have a shot to make it into the 10-race playoff as one of the top 16 drivers on points alone, but a victory in one of the next five races would basically assure him of a place in the field. In his only experience at this level on a road course, Elliott ended up 21st at Sonoma and ever since his near-miss at Michigan with a second-place run he has been going in the wrong direction with six straight finishes of 15th or higher. None the less, I still believe that there is some solid value in his +2500 odds to win this week given everything he has accomplished so far.
Betting Odds for other Notable Drivers
AJ Allmendinger starts most of his NASCAR races as a longshot, but given his past success on the road course at Watkins Glen he is listed as a +725 second-favorite this week. Jeff Gordon continues to drive the No. 88 car for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his odds to win this week are +850. Next on the list at +1000 are Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards. Both Brad Keselowski and last year's champ at Watkins Glen, Joey Logano have been listed at +1500 odds to win.