The Chase for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup title is down to the final three events of the season starting with this Sunday afternoon’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. This race is set to get underway at 12 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s win at Martinsville this past Sunday came a week too late to keep him in the Chase, but Jeff Gordon (2nd place) and Ryan Newman (3rd place) helped their Sprint Cup title chances with strong runs. My value pick for last week’s race was Matt Kenseth at 12/1 but he could only manage a sixth-place finish after starting third.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites to win Sunday’s race along with my top value pick based on odds provided by Bovada.
Kevin Harvick fell all the way to the bottom spot in the field of eight for NASCAR’s Eliminator Round of this year’s Chase, but he comes into this week’s race as a 19/4 favorite to move right back up to the top of the Sprint Cup standings with a victory at Texas. The No. 4 car’s 33-place finish at Martinsville was its worst of the Chase after posting a victory at Charlotte and top-five finishes as both Chicago and New Hampshire. Harvick ‘s chance to regroup at Texas Motor Speedway and get back into the title hunt could be tough sledding with an average finishing position of 13.6. He finished 42nd in the first race here this season and he has not cracked the top five in his last nine trips around this track in a Sprint Cup race.
The second favorite to win this Sunday on Bovada’s betting odds is Brad Keselowski at 11/2. For the second time in three rounds of the Chase the 2012 Sprint Cup Champion has put the No. 2 team in an early hole. He needed a dramatic victory at Talladega two weeks ago just to advance to the Eliminator Round and Keselowski will start this race in seventh-place in the standings after posting a 31st-place finish last week. This is another Chase driver that has not raced his best at Texas. He ended-up 15th in the first race at this track all the way back in early April and he has just one top-five finish in 12 career Sprint Cup races here.
Veteran Sprint Cup driver Jeff Gordon has also been listed at 11/2 betting odds to win this race and he probably offers the best value for any of this week’s favorites. It has been 13 years since Gordon won his last NACAR title and you cannot help but get the feeling that he is primed to raise his career total to four. The second-place finish last Sunday was the No. 24 car’s fourth top-three finish in this year’s Chase including a checkered flag at Dover. Going all the way back to the victory at Indianapolis, this team has placed first or second in half of the 14 points races that have been run. Adding even more value to Gordon’s odds is a second-place finish in the first race at Texas this season after starting 12th.
Top Value NASCAR Picks
I went with Matt Kenseth as my top value NASCAR pick last week and I am going the same way this week simply because he is clearly the best driver on the betting board at longer odds. This time around he has been listed at 10/1 odds to get a much needed win that would lock-up a spot in the final four at Homestead in this season’s final race for the title. Working against these odds is the fact that the No. 20 car is still looking for its first Sprint Cup win of the season after making its way to Victory Lane seven times last season. Kenseth’s last checkered flag at Texas came in the early race in 2011 and since then he has finished in seventh place or better in five of his last six Sprint Cup races at this track.