There is a reason why Jimmie Johnson has won the Sprint Cup title six times during his illustrious racing career and last week at Michigan he showed us why with his third point-race victory in the last four weeks. Kevin Harvick continues to stay in the hunt week after week with a second-place finish and Brad Keselowski finished third. I had Kyle Busch at 12/1 as my top value pick, but I was way off base after he finished 41st in a field of 43.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites to win this Sunday’s race along with my top value pick based on odds provided by Bovada.
Given that this is a road course race similar to Indy style racing or Formula One, the odds list to win this week are a bit shuffled from a standard oval track race. The name at the top of the list to win on Sunday is Marcos Ambrose at 5/1. The No. 9 car did post two previous top-five finishes this season at Bristol and Martinsville, but these lofty odds are all about the driver’s past experience in open-wheeled racing on road courses. Ambrose has yet to win this race in six previous tries, but he has finished in the top 10 five-straight times including a seventh-place finish in last year’s race.
Jeff Gordon has already taken the checkered flag at Kansas this season and he is currently leading the Sprint Cup standings in total points with 537, so current form alone would make him a strong contender to win this race. Add in the veteran driver’s experience in a number of forms of auto racing and it is easy to see why he has been opened as an 11/2 second favorite to win on Sunday. Consistency has been the No. 24 team’s biggest asset this season with a total of 11 top-10 finishes in the first 15 point races. Add in the fact that Gordon was a runner-up in last year’s race at Sonoma to go along with four previous victories here and that makes him a solid pick to me.
Another veteran driver with past experience racing road courses is Kurt Busch, who has been listed as a 15/2 third-favorite to add a second point-race victory to this year’s resume after winning at Martinsville in late March. The No. 41 car has fallen off the pace with just one top-five finish since that win so some of the value in these odds is drained due to current form. Busch won this race in 2011 and since then he placed third in 2012 and fourth in last year’s race, which works to add some value back into the equation.
Top Value Pick
This week’s top value betting pick is a tough call given the nature of this race, so I am going with last year’s winner Martin Truex Jr. at hefty 33/1 odds to win again this year. The No. 78 car has pretty much been a non-factor all season long with just three top-10 finishes to its credit, but this team is also well aware that a win on Sunday would go a long way towards securing a spot in this year’s Chase. Truex only has one other top-10 finish at Sonoma in eight previous Sprint Cup races on this course, but he has the skill to stay in the hunt all day long if he can remain on the lead lap.