All-Star Weekend is always a nice change of pace for NASCAR drivers and teams who get to enjoy a pressure free weekend filled with excitement and extracurricular activities close to home, and for fans who get to witness no holds barred action they don’t get to see during points paying races. Like the preseason Budweiser Shootout, the All-Star Race is always an intriguing event because it’s part test session, part major money free for all. Because of this it’s always a difficult race to bet, but nonetheless provides opportunities for a few long-shot bets.
This week I’ll take a look at each driver already guaranteed a spot in the main event Saturday night and spread out a fictional $100. As always, all odds are taken from BetUS.com as of Thursday afternoon. Note that these odds tend to change throughout the weekend and what you see in this column may or may not be the odds you see at the time of your bet.
Bobby Labonte – 80/1 Quite a long-shot with no real chance of winning. Sorry Labonte fans, but save your money.
Brad Keselowski – 35/1 I’ve been suggesting Keselowski the last few weeks when he was 80/1, but while he could be a sleeper this weekend, I don’t recommend taking the gamble.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 20/1 Earnhardt is an intriguing option, but with zero momentum coming into the weekend there are several options I like better.
David Reutimann – 25/1 Now we’re talking. Reutimann fits the mold as All-Star sleeper this weekend. With a top five last week, two top-15 finishes at Charlotte last year – including a rainy win in the 600 – Reutimann could put it all together on a night he is the lone Waltrip car in the main event. $5
Denny Hamlin – 8/1 Hamlin is red hot and after a win in the pit crew challenge the “All We Do Is Win” mantra the team is basking in seems to be contagious. Don’t be surprised to see the Virginian limp around in victory lane once again Saturday night. $25
Jamie McMurray – 20/1 McMurray owned Charlotte early in his career with four top 10s and a win in his first five starts and seems to be rejuvenated with Earnhardt Ganassi racing. Is similar to Kevin Harvick in that he is clutch in big events. Could surprise some people. $5
Jeff Gordon – 5/1 While he has top 10s in four of his last five points races in Charlotte, he seems to be cursed from victory lane this season. At similar odds to teammate Jimmie Johnson, I’d rather take the No. 48 bunch.
Jimmie Johnson – 9/2 While he dominated the track in the mid-2000s, Johnson hasn’t been nearly as dominant in the past few years at Charlotte. While he led 92 laps and won in the fall last year, he has only one other top 10 in the previous four events.
Joey Logano – 25/1 Could you think of a better event for Logano to make a name for himself? Logano finished in the top 10 in both points paying events last season – including a top five in the fall – and seems much more consistent in 2010. Logano may be your cash cow Saturday night. $15
Kasey Kahne – 12/1 Kahne is the most consistent driver at Charlotte right now with seven top 10s in his last eight points paying events. At 12/1 he is a much better play than the Hendrick bunch. $20
Kevin Harvick – 12/1 NASCAR’s Mr. Primetime, I can’t think of a better driver with the money on the line than Harvick. Add the fact that he’s having a career year and the No. 29 may make you some $$$. $10
Kurt Busch – 10/1 Busch is having an up and down season in 2010 and is equally inconsistent at Charlotte with three top fives, but five finishes of 30th or worse in his career. Don’t touch.
Kyle Busch – 4/1 The moneyline favorite, Lil’ Busch is going to be tough to beat this weekend, but at 4/1 there are better options. If you like him Saturday, I’d recommend just putting all your eggs in his basket.
Mark Martin – 12/1 I just do not like the current state of the No. 5 team. They don’t have the magic they seemed to display in 2009 and they just don’t seem like a good bet for Saturday.
Matt Kenseth – 10/1 Kenseth has as many top fives as DNFs at Charlotte. The Roush gang may be turning the corner, but this is not the weekend for a win. Watch the odds, but at 10/1 I’d say pass.
Ryan Newman – 20/1 While struggling in the past, Newman’s worst finish at Charlotte last season in a Stewart-Haas car was 11th. He started on the pole and finished 2nd in the rain shortened Coca Cola 600 and his teammate won the event last season. A great bet at 20/1. $10
Tony Stewart – 12/1 The stars aligned when Stewart won this event last year and he did not lead any laps at Charlotte in any points races in 2009. Still, the No. 14 gang may have this race figured out. $10
Field (Any Other Driver) – 5/1 Avoid at all costs.
Denny Hamlin: $25
Kasey Kahne: $20
Joey Logano: $15
Ryan Newman: $10
Tony Stewart: $10
Kevin Harvick: $10
Jamie McMurray: $5
David Reutimann: $5