The Frontstretch: Bettin' the Horsepower: Coca-Cola 600 by Mike Lovecchio -- Thursday May 27, 2010

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Bettin' the Horsepower: Coca-Cola 600

Mike Lovecchio · Thursday May 27, 2010


With Memorial Day approaching and week 2 of the Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte upon us, the sport’s most grueling event lies right around the corner Sunday evening. While fans were treated with the annual Sprint Showdown and All-Star event last week, the amount of information that can be taken from that event and used to help your bets this week is slim to none. Not taking anything away from Kurt Busch’s win, but this Sunday you won’t see any trick 10-lap sprint setups in an event that can’t be any more different from the last.

For those of you who were wondering about my fictional bet from last week, let’s just say I didn’t make out too well. I didn’t see Kurt Busch coming out with the win, but I was only a couple of laps away from more than doubling my money with Denny Hamlin. Oh well…worse things can happen than losing with fictional money. This week we revert back to the column’s original format, but if you like what I did last week for the All-Star race, email me from the contact link at the bottom of the story and I’ll start doing it more often.

Note: Odds were not yet posted on at press time. This week’s edition of Bettin’ the Horsepower will separate the drivers based on who I feel has the best chance at victory on Sunday.

Solid Bets

In recent history when you think of Charlotte Motor Speedway you think of Jimmie Johnson. With six wins and 13 top 10s in 17 starts, Johnson has earned the right to be the favorite every single time the series comes to the track. He won the fall race last year, looked solid for much of the All-Star event last week and can easily do the same Sunday. But while Johnson has been the king of Charlotte, Denny Hamlin has been the hottest driver on the Sprint Cup circuit as of late, and he too was strong last weekend.

Hamlin’s teammate Kyle Busch was the moneyline favorite going into last Saturday’s event, and after a near win, should be again. The Gibbs cars are strong right now and there is no reason to think Busch can’t win Sunday, but can he keep the car in one piece for 600 miles? That’s the question.

Kasey Kahne has won the 600 before and has been more consistent than even the No. 48 at “Jimmie’s house” of late.

Bet the Odds

Jimmie Johnson may have owned Charlotte in the mid-2000s, but lately Kasey Kahne has been the most consistent guy at the top of the results. With seven top 10s in his last eight races at the 1.5-mile track it’s hard to bet against him, but the No. 9 team just has not looked good over the past month. Pay attention to his practice speeds and odds over the weekend.

It’s tough to put Jeff Gordon in this tier, but in a column where we’re picking race winners, Gordon simply needs to get in Victory Lane for me to be excited about him. Top 10s in four of his last five races are nice, but without that win I don’t know if I’d take him at the odds you’d probably be forced to play him at.

For the same reason I shy away from Gordon, I’d be a little tentative to take Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle or Carl Edwards this weekend. Roush Fenway just has not produced race winners as of late, and while these guys could easily be top 10 candidates, I want either good odds or top of the chart practice speeds before I take them this weekend.


There are three guys I really like this weekend to surprise fans and possibly even sneak into Victory Lane at longer odds than the favorites. Joey Logano tops the list with top 10s in both starts last season, a top 5 in the Fall and confidence that we haven’t really seen in the youngster before this season. Jamie McMurray is another driver racing with more confidence than we’ve seen in a while and had a lot of early career success in Charlotte. Don’t be surprised to see a top 10 run out of him.

McMurray’s teammate Juan Pablo Montoya has had such an inconsistent season it’s been hard to pick up, but when he’s been on, he’s been very fast. It’s getting close to crunch time if he wants to make the Chase and this is one of those tracks he should do well at.

Stay away from….

Mark Martin should be a contender Sunday night, but all signs point to another letdown for the No. 5 team. Martin has not shown me anything in recent weeks to think that he’s on the verge of a win and while I expect the No. 48 and No. 24, I don’t expect the same from the elder statesman of the group.

While Kurt Busch was able to survive the closing laps and win the All-Star event last weekend, he’ll have to survive 600 miles and a full field of cars to repeat Sunday. Like I said in the opening, there won’t be any last sprint radical adjustments made in the Coke 600 and Mr. Inconsistent at Charlotte is simply due for a bad run after a win last week.

Contact Mike Lovecchio

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