There comes a time when you bet races, or anything for that matter, that you have to admit you’re on a cold streak. It can be real or fictional money, a pool at work with your friends, or a casino in Vegas… sometimes, the dice is just cold. I will admit I did not see Kurt Busch winning last Sunday by the time my column was due, and instantly regretted telling you guys not to bet on him once I saw the practice speeds.
So to try and reverse fortune and switch the mojo around, I’m changing the format of this column. This week, we’ll look at the odds of the top 20 in Sprint Cup points, analyzing their potential and deciding who’s the safest bet for Sunday. Check it out in this week’s edition of Bettin’ the Horsepower below….
Note: The following odds are odds to win, from betus.com as of Thursday AM.
Kevin Harvick (18/1): Your series points leader has been having a career year, but in 18 starts at Pocono, Harvick has just five top-10 finishes. Not what you like to see, but at these odds you can roll the dice and see if he has a breakout performance. Remember, Kurt Busch hadn’t posted solid numbers at Lowe’s up until last weekend, either.
Kyle Busch (8/1): With seven consecutive top 10s, Lil’ Busch is one of the hotter drivers on the circuit right now. Like Harvick, however, he’s struggled at Pocono with just two top-10 finishes in 10 starts and has a best result of 16th over the past two years. I don’t like him to win this weekend.
Matt Kenseth (20/1): Kenseth has seven top 15s in his last eight races at Pocono, but has led a total of 39 laps in 20 career starts. Not the type of totals you’re looking for when picking a winner.
Jeff Gordon (8/1): Gordon has jumped from 10th to fourth in points in just over a month, and now heads to a track where he’s finished outside the top 10 just once in his last seven starts. I like him to run well, but not win… something he hasn’t done at Pocono since 2007.
Denny Hamlin (5/1): Just ask Hamlin and he’ll tell you: “All he does is win.” At Pocono, however, that’s no joke. In eight starts, he has three wins, including the series’ last stop at the tri-oval. I don’t like the odds, but I love the pick.
Kurt Busch (8/1): When he stays out of trouble, Busch runs well at Pocono. In 18 starts, he has two wins and nine top 10s, but has also failed to finish on the lead lap seven times. He was inconsistent at Charlotte and won, but that won’t happen two weeks in a row.
Jimmie Johnson (5/1): If there is any driver that needs a reversal of fortune right now, it’s Johnson, who seems to have lost his golden horseshoe the last few races. He has top 15s in 15 of his 16 starts at the tricky triangle and has two wins… but both were in 2004. Another guy I feel will have a good run, but ultimately won’t win.
Jeff Burton (15/1): You can’t doubt Burton’s consistency, but at Pocono he’s been consistently mediocre. Zero wins in 32 starts at the track is enough to stay away this weekend.
Greg Biffle (20/1): Like Burton, Biffle has no wins in 14 starts. Couple that with Roush Fenway’s winless drought and he’s DNT (Do Not Touch) Sunday.
Mark Martin (20/1): Martin is due to get back on track and is solid at Pocono with 32 top 10s in 46 starts, but he has yet to win. A fifth-place run isn’t out of the question, but that won’t earn you money, will it?
Carl Edwards (20/1): With two wins in 10 starts and a runner-up finish in this race one year ago, Edwards is a logical play this weekend. But keep in mind Roush can’t get in victory lane these days and Edwards continues to slump, so play him cautiously.
Ryan Newman (30/1): While teammate Tony Stewart stole the headlines with his first win as driver/owner last June, Newman posted respectable fifth and 14th-place finishes in two Pocono starts. Consider him a decent long-shot on Sunday.
Clint Bowyer (20/1): Bowyer has four top 10s in eight starts at Pocono, but just one of those (10th – 2007) came in the first stop on the schedule. Should run well, but won’t win.
Martin Truex Jr. (40/1): Truex was a major disappointment last Sunday and has not finished in the top 10 in his last five starts at Pocono. Top-20 car… no more.
Jamie McMurray (25/1): Throw out his past stats at Pocono; McMurray has rejuvenated his career with Earnhardt Ganassi. Teammate Juan Pablo Montoya was strong here last year, and both should be this time around. Solid upside bet.
Tony Stewart (20/1): Stewart has not impressed me this year, but when you can get a defending race winner at these odds, you take them in a heartbeat. A very good play this weekend.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (60/1): Vegas is trying to tease you here, but stay away. Earnhardt is slumping right now and I don’t see him coming out of it until next week at the earliest.
Joey Logano (20/1): Not much to go off here, but with finishes of 27th and 23rd last year, I’d stay away at 20/1.
David Reutimann (40/1): Despite finishing third last June, his next best finish in six Pennsylvania starts is 19th. I don’t like him to win Sunday.
Juan Pablo Montoya (15/1): Top 10s in both starts last year and a second-place finish in the second race. Desperately needs a good run this weekend and is long overdue for a win on an oval. A great sleeper who could pull off the upset under the right circumstances.
Predicted Top-Three Finishers
1. Denny Hamlin (5/1)
2. Jimmie Johnson (5/1)
3. Jamie McMurray (25/1)
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