There are only two road races on the Sprint Cup schedule and Carl Edwards claimed the checkered flag in the first one with a win last Sunday at Sonoma. Jeff Gordon made a run at the title with a second-place finish and Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued to race strong by taking third. I went way out on a limb with Martin Truex Jr. as my value pick at 33/1, but the best he could do was a 15th-place finish after starting 18th in the field.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites to win this Saturday night’s race along with my top value NASCAR pick based on odds provided by Bovada.
Jimmie Johnson cooled a bit last week with a seventh-place finish at Sonoma after posting three victories in the previous four Sprint Cup point races, but now that the No. 48 car is back to racing on an oval it is easy to see why it has been opened as a 4/1 favorite to continue its winning ways. This team leads the series in wins with three and it is currently ranked second in total points (560) in the Sprint Cup standings. The main reason for the lofty odds on Johnson is a fifth-place run in the inaugural race at Kentucky in 2011, followed by a victory and a third-place finish in his last two runs around this track.
The second-favorite to win on Saturday night is Kevin Harvick at 9/2. He has already made his way to Victory Lane twice this season with wins at Phoenix and Darlington and the No. 4 car has finished second in three of its last six Sprint Cup races it has run. This team is sitting in ninth-place in the standings with 472 points, but since it is all about winning in this year’s race to the Chase, Harvick is sitting pretty for this season’s playoffs. He finished 10th in last year’s race at Kentucky after placing 16th and 11th in his first two races here.
Despite Johnson’s recent run, the hottest driver in this year’s Sprint Cup series remains fan-favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. He has already won more races this season than he did in the last five seasons combined with victories at Daytona and Pocono. The No. 88 car has finished in the top five in half the 16 point races it has run, and the team is currently third in the standings with 555 points. Dale Jr. has been opened as a 15/2 third-favorite to win this Saturday night and while his overall performance at this track has had mixed results at best in three previous runs, he did finish fourth here in 2012.
Top Value Pick
Looking down the list of drivers with slightly longer odds to win this race, my eyes zeroed-in on Matt Kenseth at 10/1 as this week’s top value pick. He led the Sprint Cup series in victories last season with seven, but through the first 16 point races this season the No. 20 car is still searching for its first checkered flag. The team has been extremely competitive with five previous top-five finishes that has it sitting in fourth place in the standings with 515 points, but it also knows it needs to win to assure itself a spot in the Chase. The real value in Kenseth’s odds is the fact that he comes into this race as the defending champion. This followed two top-10 finishes in his other two Sprint Cup races at Kentucky.