Stock car racing action continues this week from Phoenix with the Subway Fit Fresh 500 and Oddsbay's handicapping team has all of the NASCAR betting picks you need to reach the 'winner's circle'! Make Oddsbay your home for the best sports betting information and free picks available anywhere in every season and every sport on the board!
NASCAR SUBWAY FIT FRESH 500 FROM PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY--FEBRUARY 27, 2011 3:00 PM PACIFIC
NOTE--MATCHUP BETS HAVE BEEN ADDED--SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE
Once you get into NASCAR betting with some regularity there's a real tendency to second guess yourself after a race where you didn't pick the winner. Obviously you can't profitably cover the drivers that are in contention every week and at the prices we get on 'to win' wagers no one expects to win every week. Still, there's always a half dozen or so races every year where you end up kicking yourself for not including the eventual winner in your betting mix.
Last week's Daytona 500 isn't one of those. In one of the biggest upsets ever in a sport not known for big upsets, 20 year old Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in only his second career start on the Sprint Cup circuit. Let that sink in for a moment--when I was 19 years old my dad only grudgingly trusted me to drive my Honda Accord on the interstate. Two days after *his* 19th birthday, Trevor Bayne drives to victory in the biggest race of the NASCAR season. Now let's not kid ourselves here--it's not like the Wood Brothers dragged Bayne out of a drivers' ed class or behind the counter at the local auto parts store and put him behind the wheel of a car. No matter how young you are if you're getting a chance to qualify for a race in any of the top three NASCAR series--let alone the biggest race on the Sprint Cup schedule--you've already proven that you can drive the hell out of a race car. There's been no shortage of young prodigies in NASCAR in recent years, but restrictor plate racing in general and Daytona in particular is a different deal--before Bayne's victory Jeff Gordon was the youngest driver to ever win the Daytona 500 and he was 25 years old at the time. The list of past champions is dominated by the legends and veterans of the sport--Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett, Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin, Michael Waltrip and the aforementioned Gordon are the only drivers to ever win the Daytona 500 more than once. Even when there was an 'upset' winner it went to some seasoned veteran like Buddy Baker, Ernie Irvan or Ward Burton. If you don't follow NASCAR closely you might not appreciate just how crazy Bayne's victory was. If anyone says that they 'saw it coming' at prices in excess of 100/1 they're flat out lying.
There's every reason to think that Bayne will be a solid NASCAR driver for a long time, but look for the stock car racing world to regain some semblance of order on the relatively short (1 mile) and flat track of Phoenix International Raceway. Critics of restrictor plate racing would suggest that this is a more pure form of racing, where the best driver with the best car wins the race. They've been running at Phoenix since 1988 and the only winner approximating a surprise here was Bobby Hamilton in 1996--and he falls into the 'seasoned veteran' category like Buddy Baker or Ward Burton at Daytona. This race is usually more predictable--in fact, in the last 15 NASCAR races run at Phoenix there's been only 8 different winners and even if you're only a casual fan you can probably name half of them. Jimmie Johnson won four of the races in that stretch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kevin Harvick two each, with Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman winning one race each.
The downside to this relative predictability is that you're not going to get much value on the likely winners. The good news is that while that may be true for the top choices there are a couple of 'sleepers' who've historically raced well here available at nice prices. This is a race where we'd prefer to wait until after qualifying to make our selections--8 of the last 9 races at Phoenix as well as 13 of the last 20 have been won from top ten starting positions. The upside to getting down *before* qualifying is better prices. In this race at least, we'll opt for the better prices:
Johnson is the race favorite and with good reason. In his last 15 starts at Phoenix he's got four wins, 10 top five finishes and 13 top 10 finishes. His worst finish in the L15 races is 15th. He's got the best average of all drivers in the past five years at Phoenix with an average finish of 2.5 and hasn't finished out of the top 5 since Spring 2006 (he finished 7th). Don't be fooled by his substandard showing at Daytona last week--for whatever reason, its a 'throwaway race' for Johnson every year.
Edwards is the #3 betting favorite and won the Fall race at Phoenix last year. He's been a fixture in the top ten in his last 10 races here--he's got 1 win, 5 top 5's and 9 top 10's. Took second at Daytona last week and leads the points standings. He's become one of the better short track drivers on the circuit.
There's several drivers priced at odds of 20/1 or higher than have shown well here at Phoenix--Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton are all good values relative to their price but we like the combination of a fairly high price (+2100) and strong recent form on this track of Kurt Busch. The elder Busch has the fifth best driver rating at Phoenix and top ten finishes in 4 of the last 5 races here (2,3,6,35,9). Arguably the best short track driver in the business over the past decade.
TO WIN SUBWAY FIT FRESH 500:
This week we're going to risk 1.5 units on the 'to win' wager--in other words, the percentages below will add up to 150%.
PLAY JIMMIE JOHNSON +550 (70% OF WAGER)
PLAY CARL EDWARDS +700 (60% OF WAGER)
PLAY KURT BUSCH +2100 (20% OF WAGER)
POST QUALIFYING UPDATE:
Jimmie Johnson qualified poorly so if you haven't bet the race yet you might want to take a chance and leave him out. Kurt Busch and Edwards are still a strong play, but their prices have dropped since both qualified very well (Edwards will start from the pole, Busch #2). If you're betting this at the current prices I'd go with a 60%/40% split on Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards. If you want to put a chip on a longshot, I'd suggest Ryan Newman or Mark Martin who are both available at +2800.
PLAY DAVID REUTIMANN +160 OVER KASEY KAHNE
PLAY MARK MARTIN +110 OVER GREG BIFFLE
PLAY CLINT BOWYER +100 OVER JOEY LOGANO
NASCAR Odds from 5 Dimes Sportsbook: