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All-Star Weekend Betting News and Notes

All-Star Weekend Betting News and Notes

All-Star Weekend
By Micah Roberts

For the next two weeks every NASCAR Sprint Cup team will get to stay comfortably at home as the next two events will be held at Charlotte Motor Speedway, beginning with Saturday night’s All-Star Race. It’s a non-points event where all the winners from 2013-14 are invited to participate with the top prize being a $1 million check.

So far this season, we’ve seen a few teams treat the regular season races like non-point races just because of changes to the Chase where wins are more important than points. It’s safe to say we all like the changes because the racing has been better, just like it is every year in these All-Star events. It’s all about winning and second-place is just the first loser.

There are other ways to get an invite if not having been to victory lane lately. The past 10 Sprint Cup Champions are eligible, along with the past 10 All-Star Race winners. There’s also a qualifying race (Sprint Showdown) for others that didn’t meet the criteria. The winner of that 40-lap race, along with the second-place finisher, get invitations and then all others will be eligible for the fans to vote them in. Once the field is all set, they'll race in five different segments totaling 90 laps.

To get a head start on who is likely to run fast Saturday, close looks should be paid to what happened last week at Kansas and previous races at Las Vegas and Texas. Charlotte is a fast high banked 1.5-mile track that is most similar to Texas among the three 1.5s raced on this season. Based on that alone, you would upgrade the chances of the Penske cars of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, along with Hendrick Motorsports’ new superstar Jeff Gordon.

Gordon is probably on the best roll of all -- second at Texas, first at Kansas, and leads in points. He is the new superstar because Jimmie Johnson has been the top Hendrick driver since joining the team in 2002. Gordon has been kind of forgotten about since winning his fourth and final Cup championship in 2001. Gordon also last won the All-Star race in 2001. It was his third win. Johnson has four wins, including last year’s event.

The Stewart-Haas cars are on the next plateau off candidates with Kevin Harvick a notch above his teammates. But closing fast is Danica Patrick. Yes, Danica Patrick. She had her best career finish (7th) last week, and she was noticeably better because of a conversation she had with teammate Harvick about how to attack the corners, trust the car and not be so apprehensive. She let it all hang out, and was passing quality cars all night long at Kansas, getting as high as third in the middle stages of the race. Of all the type of tracks in the series, the 1.5s gave her the most trouble. She’ll have to qualify to get in, if not it’ll be up to the fans to vote her in. After last week’s run, she gained a whole new fan base and lots of respect.

The top candidate to win the Sprint Showdown is Kyle Larson who has Top-5 finishes this season at Fontana and Texas. There is nobody that comes close in the Showdown to matching what he has done on these type of tracks. A case could be made for the Richard Petty duo of Marcose Ambrose and Aric Almirola to fare well.

Top-5 Finish All-Star Race Prediction:

1) #24 Jeff Gordon (8/1)
2) #22 Joey Logano (8/1)
3) #4 Kevin Harvick (6/1)
4) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)
5) #2 Brad Keselowski (10/1)

Top-5 Sprint Showdown Prediction:

1) #42 Kyle Larson (5/2)
2) #43 Aric Almirola (8/1)
3) #9 Marcos Ambrose (8/1)
4) #15 Clint Bowyer (3/1)
5) #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (12/1)

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Re: All-Star Weekend Betting News and Notes

Drivers to Watch - Charlotte

NASCAR will run its 30th annual Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night, as 22 drivers tangle in a 90-lap sprint to the finish in Concord, NC. Charlotte Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile, intermediate track completed in 1959 in a quad-oval shape. Every turn has the same 24° banking and straightaways are nearly flat with 5° banking. The frontstretch measures 1,980 feet (.375 miles) while the backstretch is just 1,500 feet (.284 miles).

The drivers will work for 135 miles to try to win $1 million in this race that is separated into five segments, four 20-lap parts and a final 10-lap finish to wrap up the event. One wrinkle put in last year is that drivers will be repositioned for the final 10-lap sprint based on their average finish for the first four segments, making each of the four 20-lap sections more valuable. Two-time defending All-Star champion Jimmie Johnson (4 wins) and Jeff Gordon (3 wins) have the most wins among active drivers at this event. Starting position is key for this short race, considering 21 of the 29 All-Star champions (72%) have started from one of the top-10 positions.

Drivers to Watch

Kyle Busch (10/1) -
Busch's value has doubled from last year when he was tabbed with 5-to-1 odds before leading for 29 laps and producing an excellent third-place showing. In the two All-Star races before that, Busch was the runner-up in 2011 and came in fourth place in 2012. This isn't a shock considering how well he's raced in Charlotte, with top-8's in 11 of his past 13 regular-season starts at this venue. The only two bad finishes were due to a 2011 crash and 2013 engine failure. Busch has also had an excellent 2014 season so far with an 11.1 average finish and lap leads in 8-of-11 starts to rise to his current third-place position in the standings.

Carl Edwards (15/1) - The champion from the 2011 All-Star Race wasn't able to defend his title after his engine caught on fire in the second segment of the 2012 version of this race. In 2013 when he went off at 12-to-1 odds, he finished 10th, which was his fifth top-10 in his past seven All-Star starts. Edwards has raced very well this season with a 9.6 average finish in the 10 races he was able to complete, which is why he's currently fifth in the points standings. Edwards also placed in the top-11 in each of his past five starts in regular-season Charlotte races, placing 3rd, 9th, 7th, 11th and 10th last October.

Jimmie Johnson (5/1) - Not only has he won this All-Star race four times, but Johnson ranks tops among active drivers (with at least 5 starts) with a stellar 6.2 average finish at this event. The late Dale Earnhardt (nine) is the only driver with more top-5 finishes in this race than Johnson's eight top-5's. He's also racked up six other career victories and four poles at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Greg Biffle (25/1) - A blown engine cost him a chance at winning the 2012 All-Star Race, but Biffle represents great value at 25-to-1 odds (up significantly from 15-to-1 last year) to redeem himself on Saturday night. He has never won at Charlotte, but he placed second the 2008 All-Star Race, and since 2005, Biffle has finished 7th or better in eight of 18 races. In 2012, he placed 4th in both regular-season starts at this track, including winning the pole in the fall race.

Martin Truex Jr. (40/1) - The best longshot on the board is Truex Jr., who has raced pretty well in his career at this All-Star competition. In four starts, he has an average finish of 12.5, and was the runner-up to Kurt Busch the last time he participated in this race in 2010. Truex Jr. also placed 10th in the 2007 All-Star race, and has two top-10 finishes in his past three regular-season races in Charlotte. At 40-to-1, Truex is worthy of a one-unit wager here.

Check out more NASCAR Odds and Props at!

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NASCAR Odds and Top-Rated Drivers
By: Micah Roberts

LAS VEGAS -- Whenever the Sprint All-Star Race comes around, before finalizing any wagering strategy, my first thought is always, ‘Who would Humpy pick?’

Humpy Wheeler is the former president of Charlotte Motor Speedway, a NASCAR pioneer. He was the progressive thinker who gathered all the sponsorship money he could find in 1985 to get an all-star event started, and that vision has morphed into a $1 million payday for the winning driver in what has become one of the most-anticipated races of the season for fans.

Yes, Humpy should be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and because he was so likable and respected by every driver, team owner and member of the press, that honor should come soon. But in my world of wagering and odds, he’s a Vegas-type of Hall of Famer as well, because of the consistent nature with which he picked winners in the all-star race.

His success rate was so strong that if he was actually betting on his picks, the sports books might have reduced his limits. From 1989 to 2003, Wheeler correctly picked 10 of 14 all-star race winners. He’d give just one pick per year, and they cashed often. These picks weren’t always the favorites, either. In 2000, he picked rookie Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was 20-to-1 at my sports book. Had I heard Wheeler's pick (NASCAR info tougher to get back then), I would have made Junior 5-to-1.

In 2003, one week before a second-year driver named Jimmie Johnson would start a run of winning five of six Charlotte points races, Wheeler picked him to win the all-star race. Johnson was 12-to-1 that day. Wheeler had the magic touch, and also the magic view from his office, where he would time every driver‘s speed entering and exiting turn 4. The driver he ultimately decided on was based on pure numbers, and he also kept his ears open in the garages. There was nothing lucky about his picks.

As I look at speeds from Friday’s lone Sprint All-Star Race practice, and think ’Who would Humpy pick’, the name that immediate comes to mind is Brad Keselowski. In addition to having the fastest 5-and 10- consecutive lap averages during the 85-minute practice session, Keselowski also won in March in Las Vegas, Charlotte’s 1.5-mile sister track, as well as the fall Charlotte race last season. Keselowski's personality also fits the mold of drivers Wheeler traditionally selected.

The driver Humpy seemed to select the most over his tenure, though, was Jeff Gordon. He was correct in 1995 with Gordon, but lost other times with him. There almost seemed to be a sentimental side to Wheeler when he chose Gordon in 2005-06 – during Johnson’s incredible Charlotte run – which is something he managed to stay away from in most of his selections. He loved Dale Earnhardt and won twice with him, but those were based on times. Gordon’s were too, but sentimentality also appears to have played a part.

However, it rolls back to Gordon in the 30th running of the event. It’s hard not to root for the driver who has reclaimed the Hendrick Motorsports flag. He hasn’t won a championship since 2001, while Johnson has won six. But he leads the series in points, grabbed his first win of the season at Kansas last week, and also finished second at Texas, another sister track of Charlotte. Gordon is using that same runner-up chassis Saturday night – but without the Texas A&M logo.

So while Keselowski looks fast and Joe Gibbs Racing has re-energized Denny Hamlin's No. 11, the Wheeler angle has me looking straight at Gordon, partly with hopes of seeing a great story materialize. He’s a three-time winner of the all-star race, the last time occurring in 2001. In fact, all three of his all-star wins (1995, 1997, 2001) came in years he ended up winning season championships.

Who would Humpy pick? Jeff Gordon, who was seventh fastest in practice (191.198).

Earnhardt Jr., meanwhile, was fastest during All-Star Race practice.

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