It had been awhile since Tony Stewart found himself in Victory Lane but that all changed last week after he took the checkered flag at Dover. Juan Pablo Montoya turned in a solid run by finishing second and another long-time NASCAR veteran Jeff Gordon was in the mix at third. Our value NASCAR pick for this race was Brad Keselowki at +1200, but the defending Sprint Cup Champ’s winless streak continued with a fifth-place finish.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites for this Sunday’s race along with our value pick based on their current betting odds to win as provided by Bovada.
It is crowded at the top of Sportbook’s favorites’ list this week with three drivers opened at +500 to win Sunday’s race. The top driver on this short list in terms of the current Sprint Cup standings is Jimmie Johnson, who is in first with 473 points. He finished a disappointing 17th last in last Sunday’s race but the No.48 car has still notched two victories this season and four other top-five finishes in the first 13 point races not to mention a win in this year’s All-Star Race. Johnson raced his way to a fourth-place finish in last year’s race and has an average finishing position at this track of 9.0.
The second driver listed at +500 to win at Pocono is Matt Kenseth. He is also coming off a rough outing at Dover, but should be able to quickly bounce back with a strong run this week considering that the No. 20 car has already taken the checkered flag three times this season and placed in the top 10 four other times to hold down fourth place in the Sprint Cup standings with 399 points. Some of the value in these odds is lost due to Kenseth’s inconsistency at this track. He finished seventh in last year’s race but followed that up with a 23rd-place finish in the second race here last season. He has not cracked the top five at Pocono since 2006.
It has been rough start for Denny Hamlin in 2013 after sustaining a back injury in a wreck that caused him to miss four races earlier in the season. He has been behind the wheel of the No. 11 car for the last four point races and finished second at Darlington and forth at Charlotte so it is easy to see why he is the third driver listed as a +500 favorite to win this week. Hamlin has had his fair share of success at Pocono over the years with four victories and an average finishing position of 10.7. He started and finished fifth in last year’s Party in the Poconos 400.
Kyle Busch would rather forget the 2012 Sprint Cup season and so far he has done a great job at putting it in the rear view mirror with two victories and four other top-five finishes in 2013. The No.18 car is currently in eighth-place in the standings with 374 points. It erased a string of three-straight poor performances with a sixth-place finish at Darlington and a fourth-place finish last week at Dover. Busch has been opened at +800 to claim his third checkered flag of the season with a win this week. He has never won a Sprint Cup race at this track but he did finish second in this race in 2010 and third in 2011, so he is getting close.
Top Value Pick
The hottest driver in the Sprint Cup series right now could be Kevin Harvick with two victories and two other top-10 finishes in his last five point races. This run has the No.29 car in fifth place in the standings with 399 points. This is enough to make him our value pick at +1500 to win this Sunday. Harvick is still looking for his first Sprint Cup victory at Pocono and coming off three-straight finishes out of the top 10 here, but current form along with the fact that he did finish in the top five at Pocono four times from 2008 to 2011 could signal that he is due.