NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series will be back in action this Sunday after taking a week off with the running of the STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. Sunday’s race is set to get underway at 10 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on FOX.
Kyle Busch returned to the Winner’s Circle after a longer than expected hiatus from a point race victory by taking the checkered flag two weeks ago in a wild finish at Fontana. Dale Earnhardt Jr. kept his top-10 finish streak alive by taking second and Joey Logano crashed his way to third. Our value pick for this race at +1200 was Tony Stewart, but he fell all the way to 22nd as a result of Logano’s questionable moves on the final lap.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites for Sunday’s race along with our value pick according to their current odds to win as provided by Sportsbook.
Jimmie Johnson had his share of troubles at Fontana two weeks ago with a 12th-place finish, but he has been opened as the +400 favorite to get back to his winning ways this week. After a stirring first-place finish in the Daytona 500, the No. 48 car ended-up second at Phoenix and sixth at Las Vegas before its recent downturn. Overall, Johnson is now third in the Sprint Cup standings with 183 points. Martinsville has to be one of his favorite tracks with seven career victories including a win in the second race here last season. His average finishing position at this track is an impressive 5.5.
The second-favorite to win on Sunday at +600 is defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski. With the exception of a 23rd-place finish the last time out, the No.2 car has been in position to win its first four races with a top-five finish in each. It is currently second in the standings and just 12 points out of the lead. Keselowski has only raced at Martinsville six previous times in the Sprint Cup series, but he is headed in the right direction with a ninth-place finish in last year’s race followed by a sixth-place finish later in the year.
Looking for lightning to strike twice, Kyle Busch has also been opened at +600 to make it back-to-back checkered flags come this Sunday. As one of the more successful drivers in the series over the past several seasons, he appears to have returned to form after a very disappointing 2012 campaign in which the No.18 car did not even make it into the Chase. Along with the win at Fontana, this team has posted two other top-five finishes to move to sixth in the Sprint Cup Standings with 163 points. Busch has yet to win a Sprint Cup race at this track but has come close with a third-place finish in this race in 2011 and a second-place finish in the second race here last season.
Top Value Pick
The odds drop off rather quickly after the first three favorites with no other driver listed lower than +1200 to win this race. One of the drivers in that group and our top value NASCAR pick to win this week’s race is Dale Earnhardt Jr. The term “close but no cigar” fits perfectly for the No.88 car this season with two second-place finishes (Daytona and Fontana) as part of five top-10 finishes in the first five point races this season. This impressive run has Dale Jr. sitting in first place in the Sprint Cup standings with 199 points. He is still looking for his first Sprint Cup victory at Martinsville, but discounting a 21st-place finish his last time here, Junior has placed in the top 10 in four previous runs including a third-place finish in last year’s race.