This week marks the last race until the start of NASCAR’s Chase to this season’s Sprint Cup title. The series will head back to Richmond International Speedway for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400. This final regular season event is set to get underway at 4:30 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on ABC.
Last Sunday night at Atlanta, Kasey Kahne secured a spot in the Chase with his first victory of the year, while my top value pick at 10/1 odds Matt Kenseth came close to paying off with a second-place finish. Denny Hamlin rounded-out the top three with a strong run.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites to win Saturday night’s race along with my top value pick based on odds provided by Bovada
There is a trio of favorites at 13/2 betting odds to win this week starting with Brad Keselowski. He has long since clinched a spot in this year’s Chase with three Sprint Cup victories this year and he currently has the No. 2 car in fifth-place in the Sprint Cup standings with 782 points. This team has a total of 10 top-five finishes this season, which is the second most among all the teams in this series. Keselowski adds even more value to these odds with a fourth-place finish in the first race at Richmond this year. Last season he did stumble to a 17th-place finish in this race.
The second driver at 13/2 odds to win this race is long-time Sprint Cup veteran Jeff Gordon. He is in the midst of one of his best seasons in years with three victories and five other top-five finishes. The No. 24 car comes into this race holding the lead in the standings with 872 total points, but it could finish no better than 17th in last week’s race. Gordon’s recent record at Richmond includes a second-place finish in this race in 2012 as well as a second-place finish in the first race here this season.
Kevin Harvick rounds-out this trio at 13/2 and for good reason. He already secured his spot in the 2014 Chase with victories at Phoenix and Darlington earlier in the year. The No. 4 car came close to doubling that total with recent second-place finishes at Pocono and Michigan and this team has won the pole position in the last two Sprint Cup races. It is sitting in seventh-place in the current standings with 748 total points. Harvick is coming off back-to-back 11th-place finishes in his last two races at Richmond. However, the value in his odds increases with two checkered flags here in the last four seasons; a victory in this race in 2011 and a win in the first race at this track in 2013.
Top Value Pick
Not too long ago Denny Hamlin was considered one of the top drivers in the Sprint Cup series, but injuries along with some other misfortunes have made these past two seasons a real chore. The No. 11 car already has a spot in the Chase due to a previous victory at Talladega so it does need to win this race to get in, but given last week’s successful run at Atlanta, I think this team will win on Saturday night as my 10/1 value pick of the week. Hamlin has two career Sprint Cup victories at this track including a win in this race in 2011. His recent performance at Richmond does nothing to enhance his odds, but his current form does.