Last Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, which is one of two road courses in Sprint Cup racing, Jimmie Johnson managed to post a ninth-place finish. It was the No.48 car’s seventh top-10 finish to go along with three additional victories in the first 16 point races of the year. The team also took the checkered flag in this season’s non-point All-Star Race. The net result has been a permanent spot in first place in the Sprint Cup standings for most of the year. Johnson has a total of 573 points and a 25-point lead over Carl Edwards.
This week he has been opened as a +600 favorite to add a fourth title to the 2013 resume. Kentucky Speedway is NASCAR’s newest track and it made its debut on the Sprint Cup schedule in 2011. He finished third in that inaugural race and sixth in last year’s race here.
The other favorite to win this week at +600 is NASCAR bad boy Kyle Busch, although he has done a pretty good job at staying out of the negative limelight this season off the track. On the track, the No.18 car has already posted two victories and along with five other top-five finishes is currently sitting in eighth place in the standings with 461 points. Busch comes into this race in excellent form with four finishes of sixth place or better in his last six point races.
He also adds some solid value to these odds considering that he is one of just two proven Sprint Cup winners at this track after taking the checkered flag in 2011’s race after starting on the Pole. Last season he started second in this race but could only manage a 10th-place finish.
Matt Kenseth is the only other three-time winner in the Sprint Cup series this season and listed at +700 to add a fourth title this Saturday night. With a total of eight top-10 finishes in 2013, the No.20 car is sitting in fifth place in the standings with 481. The only thing that drains some of the value from these odds the team’s recent form with four finishes outside the top 10 in its last five point races.
Kenseth’s limited track record at Kentucky in Sprint Cup racing consists of a sixth-place finish in this race in 2011 and a seventh-place finish last season.
Denny Hamlin and the No.11 car have been perennial favorites in Sprint Cup racing for the past several seasons but 2013 has been a season to forget so far. After sustaining some serious injuries earlier in the year in a wreck at Fontana, Hamlin was forced to sit out a month while recovering. Heading into Saturday night, he is still looking for his first victory after finishing in the top five just twice in seven previous races.
He has been opened at +800 to break through with a win this week and given his recent track record at Kentucky that might not be such a bad bet. Hamlin led last year’s race for 58 laps before eventually finishing third.
If you are looking for a quality driver with longer odds to win this race you might want to take a closer look at Brad Keselowski and the No.2 car. The defending Sprint Cup Champion has already endured his fair share of frustration defending his title. He remains winless through the first 16 races, but you have to believe he is due with five top-five finishes so far.
What really adds value to his odds to win this week is the fact that Keselowski comes in as the defending champion of this race. This could make it the perfect week to finally get off the scheid with another victory on Saturday night.