2011 Points: Stewart vs. Hamlin
This season NASCAR has changed up its point system, significantly cutting down the total number of points one can earn in a race. The maximum number of points one can earn is 48 and there is an added emphasis on winning in 2011.
43 drivers will contend in each race and the winner will receive 43 points, second 42, third 41, all the way down to last, which gets just one point. The winner will also get three bonus points and one bonus point is given to each driver that leads at least one lap in the race and to the driver that leads the most laps in the race. So essentially, the winner of each race gets at least 47 points.
Oddsmakers at online sportsbook Sportsbook.com feel both drivers are equal coming into the season as each driver has been given odds of -125 to finish higher than the other in the season standings.
Last season, Hamlin was runner-up to champion Jimmie Johnson. He finished just 39 points back while Stewart finished seventh, 401 points back. Hamlin led the series with eight wins while Stewart had two.
Hamlin has been getting progressively better over recent years as he finished eighth in the season standings in 2008, fifth in 2009, and second last year. Hamlin has 12 wins over the last two years and had at least 12 top 5’s in each of the last four seasons. Hamlin did have only 18 top 10’s in 2010, which ranked just tied for fifth amongst drivers.
Stewart is a two-time series champion, but has hasn’t finish inside the top five since he won the series in 2005. Stewart has never went without a win in a full season, but his seven wins over the last three years don’t even match Hamlin’s eight in 2010.
I am a little surprised that Stewart has equal odds to Hamlin for this season as Stewart seems to be on the decline while Hamlin is on the incline. Stewart will always be a factor, but he doesn’t seem to find himself contending as much as he used to while Hamlin is clearly a threat in most races.
2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Futures Odds – More Points in 2011 (Both drivers must contend in 33 races)
Tony Stewart -125
Denny Hamlin -125