Martin Truex Jr. has dominated the first two playoff races with back-to-back victories at Las Vegas and Richmond. Kyle Busch made his presence felt as the favorite last Saturday night by taking second and Denny Hamlin was back in the mix in third place.
When it comes to betting on Sunday’s race on the half oval/ half road course track at Charlotte, 5Dimes online sportsbook has posted its odds to win. Given the uniqueness of this race, I decided to stretch the odds with this week’s picks.
Denny Hamlin +880 [5Dimes]
With four victories and a Cup Series-high 14 Top 5 runs, Hamlin has been one of the most consistent drivers this season. He has his No. 11 Toyota in fifth place in the updated Cup Series standings with a total of 2105 points, so he will be moving on to the next round of this 10-race playoff to the title. Taking third at Richmond last Saturday night was a big step in the right direction after slipping to 15th at Las Vegas. I also like the fact that he took fifth at Sonoma and third at Watkins Glen in two previous road course races this season.
The biggest value in this week’s odds to win comes from Hamlin’s third-place finish in this event last year. The combination of making left turns on an oval and twisting turns on a road course puts most drivers at a disadvantage on Sunday. However, Hamlin should navigate this course better than most.
Ryan Blaney +1850 [5Dimes]
Blaney finds himself 10th in the current standings after finishing 12th at Richmond. He started the playoff with a respectable fifth-place run at Las Vegas. With 2059 total points, a win at Charlotte is the only way to definitely earn a spot in the reduced 12-driver field. The No. 12 Ford has yet to win a point race this season, but this team does have eighth Top 5 runs to its credit. Blaney has placed inside the top 10 in almost half of the first 28 Cup Series events this season as another plus.
This pick at higher odds turns into a bit of a flyer given Blaney’s lack of success at Charlotte in his first three full-time seasons racing at NASCAR’s highest level. This is definitely more of a ‘gut’ pick than one based on traditional handicapping factors.
Kurt Busch +2200 [5Dimes]
This pick is more about desperation than current driving form. A wreck at Las Vegas followed by a fade to 18th at Richmond has Busch facing elimination from this season’s playoff. The only way he can guarantee a spot in the reduced 12-driver field is by winning Sunday’s race. To a veteran driver like Busch, that all-or-nothing proposition does add value to his odds. The No. 1 Chevrolet has been quiet for the past few months after winning this year’s point race at Kentucky. He comes into this race 15th in the standings with 2039 total points. Busch has placed inside the top five in five events this season with another nine runs in the top 10.
Busch has been one of NASCAR’s better road course drivers over the years which has to count for something in this race. His eighth-place finish last year in the inaugural run on the roval at Charlotte is another slight plus.