Saturday night’s race in prime time is set to get underway at 4:30 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on TNT.
Brad Keselowski firmed-up his spot in this year’s Chase by taking the checkered flag at Kentucky this past Saturday night to post his second Sprint Cup victory of the season. Kyle Busch ran another strong race by taking second and Ryan Newman rounded-out the top three by edging-out my top value pick Matt Kenseth for third. Kenseth went off at 10/1 odds to win that race.
This appears to be Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s year to start living-up to all the hype that has surrounded his Sprint Cup career. He has already won twice this season including the Daytona 500 to kick-off his impressive run so far in 2014. The No. 88 car is coming off a solid fifth-place finish at Kentucky last week and it has been opened as a 9/1 favorite to pull-off the season sweep at Daytona. The team is currently tied for second place in the Sprint Cup standings with 594 points after posting a total of nine top-five finishes in 16 point races this year. Dale Jr, has obviously had a high level of success at this track with three career Sprint Cup victories and he is coming off an eighth-place finish in last year’s race.
There are a number of second-favorites at 12/1 odds to win this year’s Coke Zero 400, but the next driver on my list is Jimmie Johnson. Anytime you can get double-digit odds on a six-time Sprint Cup Champion you jump at the chance especially when that driver has won three of the last six point races on this year’s schedule. The No. 48 car has cooled a bit with a seventh-place finish on the road course at Sonoma and a 10th-place finish in last week’s race, but this team is still holding down a share of the second spot in the standings with 594 points while being the only three-time winner in the series. The big value in Johnson’s odds reside in the fact that he swept both races at Daytona in 2013 and he finished fifth in this year’s Daytona 500.
Matt Kenseth won seven point races in 2013 and he has finished in the top five in six point races this season, so it is just a matter of time before he guides the No. 20 car to Victory Lane in 2014. This week could be as good a time as ever to end this winless drought considering the team’s 12/1 odds to win on Saturday night. Kenseth only adds value to these odds with two previous Sprint Cup victories at this track along with a third-place finish in this race in 2012 and a sixth-place finish earlier this season at Daytona.
Top Value Pick
Since there is already some tremendous value in the odds for a couple of the favorites in this race at 12/1, I dug a bit deeper into this week’s betting odds to come up with Carl Edwards as my top value pick to win at 18/1. The No. 99 car has already made its way to the Winner’s Circle twice this season with victories at Bristol in mid-March, and Sonoma just two weeks ago. It is holding down sixth place in the standings with 536 points, and one of just six teams with multiple point race wins this year. Edwards’ recent performance at Daytona could be the main reason for the longer odds, but he does have three previous top-five finishes in this race dating back to the 2007 season.