|Kyle Busch won last season at Chicagoland.|
Of course, the other two wins on 1.5s come from JGR, but the winning drivers were Denny Hamlin (Texas) and Martin Truex Jr. (Charlotte). Despite Kyle Busch not being in the mix and having top-fives in only two of those five races, he comes in as the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook's 3/1 betting favorite.
Others factors for Busch being so low this week besides four wins and 15 top-10 finishes in 16 starts in 2019 is that his wins at Fontana and Pocono were using the same race package being run this week with aero ducts and engines producing 550 horsepower. He's also got an amazing past history at Chicagoland with two wins, including last season, and leading at least 21 laps in his last six starts there.
But still, 3-to-1 odds is hard to swallow and it's especially hard to bet. Every race we've seen with this package on 1.5s has seen lots of parity with lots of different lap leaders. And somehow in three of those races, Penske has come out on top with Brad Keselowski winning at Atlanta and Kansas and Joey Logano winning at Las Vegas. Both of those drivers are at 8/1 odds this week.
In the case of Keselowski, an argument can be made that he has a better Chicagoland past history than Busch. He's averaged a 9.2 finish in 10 career starts and also has two wins. He's finished ninth or better in his last eight starts and got to the front leading laps in seven of those.
Truex is 6/1 this week and has got all four of his 2019 wins in the past eight races and he's been excellent at Chicagoland the past three years. All three of his top-fives have come in the last three seasons, including back-to-back wins in 2016-17.
“We started out the year kind of searching a bit on the mile-and-a-halves and the bigger tracks with the 550-horsepower package," Truex said. "For us, I definitely feel like we’ve learned a lot the past month and a half and really turned a corner there. That has given us a lot of confidence and we feel like Chicago will be a good race for us.’’
Hamlin has come in under the radar at 18/1 odds despite being good with this package this season and having a great past history at Chicagoland where he's finished seventh or better in his last five starts, including a 2015 win.
The only winless JGR this season is Erik Jones (20/1) who finished sixth last season. This is a track he's done well at throughout his young NASCAR career with two wins in the Xfinity Series. At the similar Kansas layout in May he finished third.
Chevrolet only has one win this season, but they've turned the corner with this package and it was most evident at Kansas when Hendrick Motorsports' Alex Bowman was runner-up and Chase Elliott was fourth. They combined to lead 108 laps that day and I'm looking for both to be very good competing for the win this week.
“Chicago and Kansas are both really similar, but they drive extremely different," said Bowman. "Chicago is kind of bumpy compared to Kansas. They would be a lot similar if they paved the track.”
Bowman has never won a race before, but 30/1 odds should be enough reason to bet something that has never happened.