NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series heads to Kansas Speedway this week for the running of the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 in a special prime-time Saturday night start. The green flag for this race is expected to wave at 4:30 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on FOX Sports.
Last week’s top valued favorite to win paid-off to the tune of +800 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. crossed the finish line first at Talladega for his first Sprint Cup point-race win of the year. Jimmie Johnson stayed hot by finishing second and Paul Menard posted a strong run to end-up third.
The following is a look at my top valued favorite, contender and longshot to win Saturday night’s race based on the betting odds compiled by Sportsbook Review.
Top Valued Favorite
I went with Dale Jr. last week to get his first win of the year, so this week I decided to go with Jeff Gordon as +800 betting odds to end his current drought with a win. In his final season racing fulltime in the Sprint Cup series, Gordon and the No. 24 car have been fairly quiet through the first 10 races on the schedule. This team did finish third at Bristol a few weeks back, but the main reason I like Gordon’s chances this week is the fact that he comes in as the defending champion. It was his third career victory at this track and his average finishing position at Kansas is a respectable 10.3.
Top Valued Contender
Matt Kenseth ended an almost two-year winless drought with an earlier victory at Bristol and he has been listed at +1200 to win again on Saturday night. Even though the No. 20 car failed to cross the finish line first all last season, this is a team that led the way in 2013 with seven point-race victories. With that kind of track record, any time you can get higher odds on this driver the value is there. I also like the fact that Kenseth has raced extremely well at Kansas in the recent past. He followed-up a victory in the second race at this track in 2012 with a victory in this race in 2013. Last year, he placed 10th in this event.
Top Valued Longshot
Some unfamiliar faces have been showing-up in the top three all season long, which adds some general value to drivers with the longer odds for these races. The trick is to find the one that can break through with an upset win against the favorites. This week, I have zeroed-in on Martin Truex Jr. as my top valued longshot at +2000 betting odds. The 78 car has been one of the most consistent competitors on the track this season with nine top-10 finishes in the first 10 point races. This includes a second-place run at Las Vegas and a solid fifth-place finish last Sunday at Talladega. Truex finished 21st in this race last year, but he followed that up with a fourth-place finish in the second race at Kansas. He has actually placed fourth or better in four of his last six Sprint Cup races here.
Betting Odds for other Notable Drivers
The driver at the top of this week’s list to win this race is Kevin Harvick at +350. He is coming off an eighth-place finish in his last week, which was just the third time this season the No. 4 car did not finish one or two in a point race. Next on the list is two-time winner Jimmie Johnson at +600 along with Kurt Busch. The other two drivers at +800 betting odds to win are Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Last week’s winner Dale Jr. is seventh on the list at +1000.