There are just three races left before a new Sprint Cup champion is crowned, so this week’s AAA Texas 500 becomes crucial for any driver still in the hunt. Sunday’s race from Texas Motor Speedway is set to get underway at 11 a.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

Jimmie Johnson put himself back in the driver seat with a victory last Sunday at Martinsville with Kyle Busch taking second and Kasey Kahne coming in third. Our value pick for the week at +1400 was Clint Bowyer, and while he did challenge for the checkered flag all afternoon, he wound-up fifth. 

The following is a look at a few of the favorites to watch this Sunday afternoon along with our value pick according to their current odds to win as provided by WagerWeb. 


Jimmie JohnsonJimmie Johnson can begin to taste his sixth Sprint Cup title in seven seasons and so can the odds makers after making him the odds-on-favorite to win Sunday’s race at +450. This is the No.48 car’s time to shine as it has dominated the Chase so far with four top-five finishes and one win in the first seven races. Johnson also adds some solid value to his odds with his past performance at this track. He finished second at Texas earlier this season and has finished in the top five in five of his last 10 races at this track including a victory in this race in 2007. 

The No.11 car’s chances at winning this year’s title took a serious hit with last week’s disastrous 33rd-place finish, but never count its driver Denny Hamlin out of things until the fat lady sings. He has been opened as a +500 second-favorite to win this week, and considering that he is now in fifth place and 49 points out of the lead, you know that this team will be racing for the checkered flag from lap one. Past performance at this track is also in his favor after sweeping the season series at Texas in 2010 with back-to-back wins. 

Matt Kenseth’s slow start in the Chase pretty much knocked him out of contention early in the 10-race playoff, but he roared back to post two victories in the last four races make him a legitimate threat to win this week as well. Also adding value to his +700 odds to get it done is six top-five finishes in his last seven races at Texas. The No. 17 car won the first race at this track in the 2011 season and finished fourth in last year’s race. His overall finishing position here is an impressive 8.6. 

Another driver who remains in the thick of the title race is Brad Keselowski, who is just two points behind Johnson on the leader board. He has been opened at +750 to get back to the winner’s circle after taking the checkered flag a series-high five times this season. The No.2 car won two of the first three races in the Chase, but has cooled a bit with an eighth-place finish two weeks ago in Kansas and a sixth-place finish last week. Also sapping some value out of these odds is Keselowski’s performance at this track. He has failed to finish in the top 10 in any of his eight career races here.

Top Value Pick 

As one of the few drivers left in the Chase with a legitimate shot at winning the title, you have to keep an eye out for Kasey Kahne this week. After last week’s third-place finish, we like him so much we decided to make him our value pick to win this race at +900. The No.5 race team has been sniffing around the front of the pack in just about every playoff race with five top-10 finishes in the seven races. Kahne has also raced well at this track recently with a third-place finish in last year’s race and a seventh-place finish earlier this season here.