The Frontstretch: Bettin' the Horsepower: Johnson Eyes Third Straight Win at Dover by Mike Lovecchio -- Thursday May 13, 2010

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Let me know if you’ve heard this before – Jimmie Johnson is the favorite to win this weekend.

I know. I know.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but in a column where you give statistical advice as to who you should try and pick as the race winner week in and week out, you occasionally come across the same names. And when it comes to recent success at a number of tracks on the schedule, Johnson is obviously number one.

It’s been a rough past couple of weeks for the No. 48 bunch, who has seen its points lead slip away after crashes at Talladega and Darlington. But as we’ve all seen the past four years, Chad Knaus and Johnson don’t stay down for long. Dover is the perfect track for these guys to rebound and pick up win number four on the season, as Denny Hamlin is making a charge to be the points leader when the field is reset for the Chase.

See why Johnson is the favorite, and who will be his toughest competition this week in the Dover edition of Bettin’ the Horsepower:

All odds are taken from BetUS.com as of Thursday afternoon. Note that these odds tend to change throughout the year and what you see in this column may or may not be the odds you see at the time of your bet.

Solid Bets

Whenever a driver sweeps the previous season’s slate of races at a specific track, he immediately becomes the favorite the next time the series heads to that track. In the case of Jimmie Johnson, not only did he win both Dover races last season, he dominated with 569 total laps led. Still, he is not the lone favorite at 5/1, sharing that crown with Jeff Gordon. I don’t like Gordon to put an end to his winless streak this weekend, but expect a solid top 10 run for the No. 24 team.

As much as I like Johnson though, my BET OF THE WEEK belongs to Matt Kenseth (15-1). I know the entire Roush Fenway organization has struggled to collect wins lately, but Kenseth’s worst finish at Dover the past two years is…fourth. He may not have a win yet, but it could very well come this weekend.

My final “Solid Bet” for the week belongs to Greg Biffle (15/1) who finished 13th in the Fall race at Dover, but before that had seven consecutive top 10 finishes, including four consecutive top 3 finishes with a win. I like Kenseth better of the two, but I expect Biffle to have a strong run.

Play the Odds

Tony Stewart was all smiles after a runner-up finish in this race one year ago, and is a solid bet for the weekend.

Kurt Busch (12/1) and Tony Stewart (20/1) both had strong runs last season at the Monster Mile and sit at fairly nice odds this weekend. If they stay there, take them.

Kyle Busch has been hit or miss at Dover over the years with as many top 5 finishes as finishes outside of the top 15. He’s a risk reward play at 6/1. A risk I wouldn’t like taking.

The last guy to follow is Carl Edwards (15/1) who is teammates to two of my “Solid Bets.” He has six top 10s and a win in his last seven races at Dover, but finished 7th and 11th last year and has struggled to compete for a win for a while now. Watch the practice speeds and decide from there.

Longshots Worthy of a Flier

I’ve already covered three quarters of the Roush Fenway camp so why not finish it off with David Ragan. You can’t question Roush’s success in Dover, and Ragan is sitting there at 90/1. Stranger things have happened. Jamie McMurray (30/1) and David Reutimann (50/1) did well at Darlington and can easily translate that to success in Delaware.

Don’t Touch….

….Denny Hamlin? He may be the hottest driver on the circuit right now, but his career average finish at Dover is 25th. In eight career starts, Hamlin has just one top 5 and two top 10s at the Monster Mile and at 8/1 is not a good play. As good as he’s been as of late though, I may be eating my words by Monday.

My Prediction

I rode Jimmie Johnson last week and it backfired. Hopefully he bounces back this weekend and pads my wallet.

NATIONWIDE OUTLOOK

Kyle Busch 9/5
Denny Hamlin 3/1
Kevin Harvick 5/1
Brad Keselowski 5/1
Carl Edwards 6/1
Kasey Kahne 10/1
Jamie McMurray 10/1
Reed Sorenson 12/1
Clint Bowyer 12/1
Greg Biffle 15/1
Justin Allgaier 15/1
Ryan Newman 12/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 8/1

TRUCK SERIES OUTLOOK

Kyle Busch 29/20
Ron Hornaday 3/1
Matt Crafton 6/1
Johnny Sauter 8/1
Todd Bodine 8/1
Timothy Peters 8/1
Aric Almirola 9/1
Elliot Sadler 10/1
Johnny Benson 12/1
Mike Skinner 12/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 9/1

Contact Mike Lovecchio

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