Practice and qualifying at Dover on Friday and Saturday produced several surprises in the ratings, with some preliminary favorites looking slow and a few off-the-radar guys vaulting their way up the charts. Before I get to the revised rankings, though, let’s quickly revisit two important predictability factors for the race.
Weather has been pretty much a non-factor in the preliminaries, and according to Weather.com at press time, it should remain a non-factor on Sunday.
According to the Goodyear Tire Notes posted on Jayski.com, the teams are running a new left-side tire this weekend, while the right-side tire remains the same. This change decreases race predictability a bit and could be part of the reason the driver rankings underwent such a shuffling during the preliminaries.
I rated Kyle Busch ninth coming into this weekend, but he’s forced his way all the way up to #1 with his strong runs on Friday and Saturday in practice and qualifying (it doesn’t hurt he also dominated the truck race on Friday until he ran out of gas, and then won the Nationwide race on Saturday). Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. jumped up my charts Friday and Saturday as well, but my preliminary #2, Kurt Busch, tumbled down out of the top 10. Juan Pablo Montoya also looked much slower than I anticipated.
Here are my updated rankings, with the best odds I can find this morning on the top five:
1. Kyle Busch (4-1 at Linesmaker);
2. Jimmie Johnson (4.85-1 at The Greek);
3. Clint Bowyer (15-1 at Linesmaker);
4. Martin Truex Jr. (13-1 with the field at The Greek, and 20-1 on just him at Linesmaker);
5. Kasey Kahne (18-1 at Linesmaker and WSEX);
6. Ryan Newman;
7. Carl Edwards;
8. Denny Hamlin; and
9. David Reutimann.
I don’t think we get any value betting Busch and Johnson at 4-1 and 4.85-1, respectively, though the line on Johnson is close. I think 5-1 is roughly breakeven on those two, and that we probably start getting value at around 6-1.
The current lines on Bowyer, Truex, and Kahne, however, do offer value, particularly Truex at 20-1. If you do bet one of these guys, just remember it’s a longshot bet that won’t come in too often.
One last thing: Several sports books offer Truex with the field (The Greek has the best line), and to be honest, I’m not sure what to make of that bet. You get 24 cars, including the polesitter, at 13-1, and that would seem to offer quite a bit of value. Something that looks that good makes me nervous, however; surely the sportsbooks aren’t completely nuts?
The green flag drops at around 1:16 Eastern—good luck to all!
My Yahoo! Fantasy Picks
I have Johnson and Kurt Busch on my roster, and Busch’s poor pre-race performances force me to burn another Johnson start. If I had it to do over, I’d love to have Kyle Busch available, and Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin are looking sporty, too.
I’m pretty happy starting Newman and Kahne over Matt Kenseth (who again looked lousy) and Jamie McMurray. If you’ve got Bowyer or Truex available, though, they deserve strong consideration. I think Reutimann makes a good dark horse.
I have A.J. Allmendinger and Casey Mears on my roster, and unfortunately it appears Mears hasn’t gotten totally settled into his new ride yet, so I will burn another Allmendinger start. I’m OK with it because the ‘Dinger is clearly the class of Group C this week, offering a big edge in value compared to all the other C drivers.
After Allmendinger, I like Sam Hornish Jr., Paul Menard, Casey Mears and Scott Speed, in that order. Though they are bunched pretty tightly.