Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dover Autism Speaks 400 Preview; Stewart and Biffle Present Great Opportunities This Week

by Micah Roberts

Though the first 11 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season we have seen our share of domination from drivers who were supposed to win. Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin each have three wins on the young season, and we’ve seen Kyle and Kurt Busch come through along with a big Kevin Harvick win at Talladega. The only real big surprises paying out big odds have been Jamie McMurray at Daytona and Ryan Newman at Phoenix.

This week at the Monster Mile of Dover International Speedway we have the opportunity to see perhaps another long shot cash in. Johnson is going to be tough to beat, and why shouldn’t he, he’s only won five times on the track in 16 starts -- including a sweep of last seasons races. Johnson is the 6 to 1 favorite, but after him there are all kinds of hidden gems just because of the surface they’re running on this week.

Dover is a high banked concrete track that resembles the way Bristol runs now since they changed it to a multi-groove track in 2007. Even though Bristol is half-mile shorter than Dover, they do run similar and many of the teams that ran well in March’s Bristol race should do the same this week.

For bettors looking for the chance to hit a big pay day, this may be it just because of some of the top contenders who aren’t thought of that highly by the bookmakers. Tony Stewart is listed at 25 to 1 because of all his recent struggles of not cracking the top-15 in his last six starts coming in. Greg Biffle is listed at 18 to 1 despite being the top rated driver in NASCAR’s loop data that has accumulated just about every piece of data imaginable over the last 10 Dover races.

Johnson is still the driver to beat, but there is a major over adjustment on who is hot right now according to Las Vegas sports books. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are currently the “it” drivers as far as who’s hot right now and they are each co-favorites to win this week with Johnson at 6 to 1. Jeff Gordon is someone who could be placed in the upper-echelon of drivers right now because of how well he has performed all season. The guy has led more laps than anyone this year but still doesn’t have a win.

Despite the three wins for Hamlin, Dover has been one his worst statistical tracks on the tour. In eight Dover starts, Hamlin has an average finish position of 25.1 with only one top-5 finish. In four of his starts, Hamlin has failed to do better than 36th which doesn’t give much confidence in him coming in no matter how hot he is.

Kyle Busch does have a win at Dover and fared very well there while at Hendrick Motorsports. Since winning his first race for Joe Gibbs on the track in 2008, Kyle has seen finishes of 43rd, 23rd, and 31st, not exactly the type of numbers you want to bank a wager with. He’s finished in the top-10 in five straight races coming in, but those type of numbers is what is making others odds look so tempting this week.

Tony Stewart lost his sponsorship deal with Old Spice for next season which compounds misery from all his mediocre combined finishes this year. Let’s face it, Stewart has been pretty lackluster thus far and looks to be a shadow of his former self on paper. However, Dover is the perfect place to get him started back to where he belongs. If we use the Dover-Bristol connection, Stewart looks mighty attractive this week. In this race last season, Stewart finished second and at Bristol this year he had a season best second-place finish. It’s hard squeezing lemons into lemonade, but this week it should come to fruition and would taste mighty sweet with a 25 to 1 payout.

Greg Biffle hasn’t been as bad across the board as Stewart this season as he sits seventh in points, but he hasn’t really been in position to win either. Dover’s concrete should be a welcomed sight because he’s had one of his best statistical runs on the track. He’s had two wins over his career and has an average finish of 10.8 in 15 career starts. In this race last season, Biffle finished third. This season at Bristol, Biffle had one of his best runs of the year with a fourth-place finish. Look for a great run again this week.

Jimmie Johnson has five wins at Dover over his career yet didn’t win his first Bristol race until this year. Kurt Busch is just the opposite having won five Bristol races but none at Dover. Maybe this is the year for Busch just like it was for Johnson. Last season Busch doubled his career top-5 finishes at Dover by finishing fifth twice. This season at Bristol, Busch finished third while leading the most laps. He dominated that Bristol race and led on nine different occasions. Busch is a nice choice at 12 to 1 to get his first win of the season.

Jimmie Johnson is going to be tough to beat this week even though he’s bringing a less than stellar Atlanta chassis that finished 12th. With all the talk about Johnson’s luck running out and not performing well with the new spoiler, this week seems like the perfect week for him to show everyone how much a real decline he's in. No one has ever won three straight races at Dover, but then again, no one had ever won four straight championships. Johnson should perform well, and it would be unwise to leave him out of any wagering equation, but the opportunities to be had on Stewart, Biffle, and Kurt Busch give great back-up support if Johnson doesn’t win.

Top 5 Finish Prediction:
1) #14 Tony Stewart (25/1)
2) #2 Kurt Busch (12/1)
3) #16 Greg Biffle (18/1)
4) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)
5) #5 Kyle Busch (6/1)

No comments: