The NASCAR Sprint Cup series will run its second and final road course race this week with a stop at Watkins Glen International for the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen. Race time is set for 10:20 a.m. (PT), broadcasted nationally on ESPN. Here are our top value picks.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. became the third Sprint Cup driver to post three point-race victories this season by pulling-off the sweep at Pocono last week. Kevin Harvick raced his way to a second-place finish and Joey Logano finished third. My value pick last week was Kyle Busch at 12/1, but it turned out to be a short day because of an early wreck.
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.
When it comes to the two road courses on the Sprint Cup schedule you will usually find Marcos Ambrose listed as one of the favorites to win due to his past experience in Grand Prix-style racing, so it is no surprise that he is this week’s favorite to win at Watkins Glen at 5/1. He raced the No. 9 car to an eighth-place finish on the road course at Sonoma earlier this season and he does have two top-five finishes in two other Sprint Cup races this year. Last year at Watkins Glen he started from the poll, but fell to 31st as a result of a crash. This followed back-to-back victories in this race in 2011 and 2012. Adding even more value to these odds is five top-three finishes in six previous races here.
The second favorite to win this week at 6/1 is Brad Keselowski. The No. 2 car has been tearing-up the oval tracks with three victories and six more top-five finishes this season to hold down the third spot in the current Sprint Cup standings with 687 points. The team finished a disappointing 22nd Sonoma in late June, but Keselowski comes into race as the runner-up in last year’s event. The value in these odds remains high considering that he has actually finished second in this race the past three seasons after placing 20th in his initial trip around this course in 2010.
Kyle Busch has been opened as a 15/2 third-favorite to win his second Sprint Cup point race of the year. The No. 18 team is sitting in 10th-place in the standings with 611 points and in solid shape for this year’s Chase as a result of that win at Fontana. The main reason that Busch has such favorable odds to win this week is that he comes into Sunday’s race as the defending champion. He also won this race in 2008 and his current string of top-10 finishes on this course stands at eight with an average finishing position of 8.1.
Top Value Pick
Anytime you can get longer odds on a six-time Sprint Cup Champion you have to jump at the chance no matter where the series is racing. This is why I am going with Jimmie Johnson as my top value NASCAR pick for this race at 10/1. Consistency has been an issue for the No. 48 car this season with three victories in a span of four races from late-May to mid-June followed by just two top-10 finishes in the past six point races. The good news for this week was a seventh-place finish at Sonoma during the team’s recent slide. Johnson has yet to win a Sprint Cup race at the Glen, but he came close with third-place finishes in 2007 and 2012. He made his way into the top 10 last year with an eighth-place finish.