It may have taken defending Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson twelve tries to get his first point-race victory of the season, but he finally made his way to the Winner’s Circle this past Sunday night in Charlotte. Kevin Harvick continued to race extremely well by taking second and Matt Kenseth ended-up third. My value pick to win last week’s race was Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 12/1, but he fell all the way to 19th after starting 10th.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites to win this Sunday’s race along with my top value NASCAR pick based on odds provided by Sportsbook.
It is no big surprise to once again see Jimmie Johnson’s name at the top of this week’s “odds to win” list, especially in light of last week’s win, but at +350 he could almost be considered a prohibitive favorite to win again this Sunday. Maybe the oddsmakers think that the floodgates will open after it took the No. 48 car so many tries to get back to Victory Lane. Current form does add some value to these odds considering that along with last week’s win, this team does have three other top-five finishes. The real value is in the fact that Johnson has won five Sprint Cup titles in his last 10 trips around the Monster Mile. His average finishing position at this track is 8.7.
Kyle Busch has been opened as a +700 second-favorite to win on Sunday. He won a point race at Fontana back in late March, and since then, he has posted third-place finishes at both Texas and Richmond, but the No. 18 car has had its off-weeks as well this year. Last week’s ninth-place finish was the first time that the team cracked the top 10 in its last three Sprint Cup races. The value in these odds comes from Busch’s past performance at this track. He finished fourth in last year’s race, and followed that up with a fifth-place finish in the fall race at Dover. Since winning this event in 2010, he has placed in the Top Ten in seven of his last eight Sprint Cup runs here.
Johnson got his long-awaited first win of the season last week, so it is just a matter of time before Matt Kenseth gets his. The No. 20 team won seven Sprint Cup point races last season to lead the field, and it has been opened at +800 to post its first of the 2014 season this Sunday. It is coming off of a solid two weeks at Charlotte with a third-place finish in both the exhibition All-Star Race, and last week’s Coca-Cola 600, so current form points to another solid run this Sunday, as well. Kenseth is a two-time winner of this race (2006 and 2011) but he is coming off of a disappointing 40th-place finish in last year’s event after engine trouble ended his day early. He did bounce back with a seventh-place finish in the second race at Dover last season.
Top Value Pick
While I was looking for value in the rest of the field, my attention was drawn to one of this season’s biggest surprises as my top pick this week: I decided to go with Joey Logano at +1000 as only one of two drivers to win multiple point races this season. The No. 22 car took the checkered flag at Texas, and then two races later, it came in first at Richmond. It has been hit or miss since then with a fourth-place finish at Kansas followed by a 12th-place finish last week, but this team’s overall form remains strong. Logano also caught my eye with a seventh-place finish at Dover in last year’s race followed by a third-place finish at the Monster Mile in the fall race.