NASCAR Pennsylvania 500

It's summertime, so it must be time for repeats.

That's right, just as your favorite television dramas and comedies suffer through the doldrums of summer, recapitulating past shenanigans and filling in the inertia-bound among us exactly just what did happen on Heroes this spring, NASCAR prepares itself for a series of events at repeat tracks. This week, it's Pocono Raceway, where the Smokeless Set held an event just eight short weeks ago.

That day, Jeff Gordon won, but nobody (including Gordon) believed he had the best car; instead, the #24 won because of the weather. Crew chief Steve Letarte took a risk, short-pitted, and did a rain dance. Gordon managed to stay out front, barely, until water fell from the heavens. The cars that were actually best that day were Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart. Let's take a look at this week's odds, and see who looks good on the repeat board.

Last Week: We had Tony Stewart winning his second consecutive race at +600, which eventuated. Also we had Denny Hamlin over Jeff Burton, a bet that was looking terrific until Hamlin's final pit stop, when he stalled his car and couldn't get it back going again, causing the #11 to fall a couple laps down. Damn. Because of the way we weight our picks, that led to a slight losing week: a loss of 0.33 units on 1.5 units wagered. For the season, we're still up 4.87 units on 30 units wagered, a return of 16.2%. (Note also that if you'd eschewed the conservative betting scheme we outline below, and simply bet one unit per recommendation, you'd have won three units last week, and you'd be up 22.07 units on the year on 80 units wagered, a return of 27.6%. Clearly, however, this is a riskier strategy.)

Take Denny Hamlin (+463), 1/6th unit. Hamlin probably wasn't going to challenge for the win last week at the Brickyard, but he was destined for a top five before his (and his crew's) brain fart in the pits. Two months ago, Hamlin led 49 of 160 laps on a track that he swept in 2006 (for his first two Nextel Cup wins). Hamlin qualified sixth for Sunday's race, and practiced fifth- and ninth-fastest in Saturday's two sessions. Barring any more pit problems, he should be there at the end.

Take Tony Stewart (+666), 1/6th unit. Can Smoke three-peat? If anyone can do it, the streaky #20 team can. Stewart has conquered Chicagoland and the Brickyard in consecutive events, and he's got a career win at Pocono (back in '03). The similarities between Indy and Pocono are legion (giant tracks that are relatively flat in the turns, braking- and aero-sensitive, and hard to pass on), which means a guy who was good last week should also compete this week. And last week, Stewart's was the best car around.

Take Kurt Busch (+1134), 1/6th unit. Busch has a win here, and he also has a whopping four second-place finishes. Of course, if he does that again this week after we've picked him, a good-not-great performance will be very little solace. Busch the Elder qualified second for Sunday's race, then went out and practiced fastest in two of the Pocono Cup practices and fourth-quickest in Happy Hour. Suffice it to say he's got a pretty good piece. The odds are a little high here because the #2 has been snake-bitten on several recent occasions, but if Busch can keep himself clean, he could win.

by Michael Cash - - Email Us

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