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Clint Bowyer definitely shook up the world, and the points, by winning his first-ever Cup race at Loudon last weekend. Imagine this: if Bowyer's win had come one week earlier, it'd have been merely a footnote; the points he'd have gotten for winning the race would've pretty much evaporated, and he'd have been reset 10 points higher for the Chase than he was.

But because his timing is good, Bowyer suddenly vaults from 12th in points to fourth, and considering how consistent he's been all year, is a legitimate (if outside) threat to take the points title.

Richard Childress Racing was rumored to be the leaders in Car of Tomorrow development before the season started, but that never really happened.

Hendrick was the top team by leaps and bounds to start the year, with Gibbs a distant second and everyone else fighting for third. As the season has progressed, Penske has made strides, DEI won a race and of course Hendrick and Gibbs continued to dominate the COT. All of a sudden, last Sunday an RCR car finally looked like it was made on a different planet in a COT race, and people are taking notice. While Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton, Bowyer's teammates, continued to struggle a bit, Bowyer's No. 01 made it look easy, and fulfilled the RCR promise from the preseason.

It'll be interesting to see if RCR can keep it going this week in Dover.

Last Week: It was an ugly beginning to the Chase for us: threen on-winning straight-up bets and Tony Stewart toppling Jimmie Johnson in the head-to-head. If it's any consolation, it was our first losing week in almost two months. (I know: it's no consolation.) For the week, then, we lost our full 1.5 units. On the season, we're still at a net positive 7.3 units on 40.5 units wagered (an 18% return). (Note that if you eschewed the conservative betting pattern we outline below, and simply wagered one unit on every recommendation we give, you'd have lost four units, though for the season you'd be up 26.38 units on 108 units wagered (a 24.4% return). Of course, such a betting pattern is riskier on a week-to-week basis.)

Take Martin Truex Jr. (+800), 1/6th unit. Truex dominated the race here in June to earn his first Cup win, and there's little reason to think he can't perform very well again on Sunday. In fact, he could've used his Dover-winning car last week at Loudon, but chose not to. Instead, he used a different car, which finished fifth but never really challenged for a win, and saved his victory-chassis for this week, so it wouldn't be damaged. That tells me the #1 team thinks that a lot of the setup stuff that was successful at Dover the first time around will work on Sunday, too.

Take Jimmie Johnson (+550), 1/6th unit. Johnson is the pole-winner for Sunday's race, and he also practiced fastest earlier Friday afternoon. He's won three Car of Tomorrow races already this season, and has three Dover victories in his 11 starts here. I grant you, J.J. hasn't been all that good at the high-banked COT events: he finished 21st and 16th at Bristol and 15th the first time around at Dover. But I still trust the Hendrick COT program, and it's clear the #48 has some speed going for him headed into Sunday.

Take Carl Edwards (+900), 1/6th unit. Edwards has made great strides in the COT, as evidenced by his dominating win at Bristol just a few weeks ago. That was a very good sign that Edwards can be competitive in this event; as a "shrunken Dover," Bristol has a lot of the same handling characteristics as the Monster Mile. Edwards finished third here in June,and had a possible winning car at COT Richmond just a couple weeks back before his engine blew while he was leading the race. He hasn't won at Dover, but he's got three top 10s in his last four tries here, and finished second in this race last fall.

by Michael Cash - - Email Us

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