The Chase for the 2015 Sprint Cup title wraps things up in the opening Challenger Round this Sunday with the running of the AAA 400 on the Monster Mile at Dover International Speedway this Sunday. The green flag for the third of 10 playoff races is scheduled to wave at 11:30 a.m. (PT).
Last Sunday at New Hampshire, Matt Kenseth punched his ticket to the next round of the Chase with his fifth point-race victory of the year. Denny Hamlin followed-up a win at Chicago with a second-place run in this race and Joey Logano finished third.
Top Valued Favorite
Push has finally come to shove for 2014 Sprint Cup title champ Kevin Harvick with two poor finishes in the first two races of this year’s Chase. He needs a win on Sunday or some serious outside help to stave off elimination, so I am going with him has my top valued favorite to win at +450 given the added motivation. The No. 4 car was in excellent position to win last week after leading that race for 216 laps, but a gamble down the stretch resulted in a costly 21st-place finish. You know that Harvick is going to be racing hard again this week, especially after finishing second to Jimmie Johnson in the first race at Dover this year.
Top Valued Contender
Carl Edwards has already posted two solid runs in the Chase with a second-place finish at Chicago and a fifth-place finish last Sunday at New Hampshire. His betting odds to break through with a victory this week have been set at +1000 and I love the value in that number. The No. 99 car has two victories on the year including a win a few weeks back at Darlington so we know that the team’s current form is rock solid. One of the reasons for the longer odds could be Edwards’ recent performance at this track, but he has had success on the Monster Mile in the past with seven Top 5 finishes in 11 races from 2006 to 2011.
Top Valued Longshot
I am not ready to give-up on Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a possible title run, but he is another driver that needs a big day on Sunday to move onto the next round. The Oddsmakers are not too high on his chances to win at Dover with betting odds of +2500, but of all the longshots on the board he still has the best value in his odds. The No. 88 car was in position for a high finish last week, but it gambled as well down the stretch to finish 25th. Right now this team is in 12th-place in the standings so I am looking for another strong run this Sunday as well. The Monster Mile has not been too kind to Dale Jr. over the course of his career, but he did finish second in this event in 2013.
Betting Odds for other Notable Drivers
Jimmie Johnson comes into his second run this season at the Monster Mile as the favorite for sports picks to win at +400. Kyle Busch is also facing elimination without a win or some outside help and along with Matt Kenseth he is a +700 third-favorite on the list. Both Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin are next at +800 odds to win Joey Logano joins Edwards as a +1000 contender to take the checkered flag.