NASCAR in Texas: Not Like Showdown at OK Corral, But Close
So they’re all even. After the race at Martinsville, and with three races left, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are tied in the points race to win the Sprint Cup, and the unpredictable nature of this Chase for the Cup continues. Not many people would have predicted that Johnson would have been able to catch up to, and even surpass Kenseth by virtue of the results of a race on a superspeedway. And even fewer would have predicted that Kenseth would turn around and make up ground on the short track at Martinsville, where Johnson had been a dominant force. In fact, NASCAR bettors spoke with their wallets on that one.
But this is exactly what has happened.
Jeff Gordon, who is the 13th man in the Chase, is another guy who was supremely successful at Martinsville, and he charged with his eighth win there last weekend, and Kenseth came home second, three spots ahead of Johnson.
There was a side story as well. Greg Biffle got quite upset at Johnson for, in his opinion, intentionally ramming into his car at Martinsville; in fact, he got upset enough that he literally grabbed J.J.’s collar during an interview he was doing after the race and let him know just how he felt. Later he apologized on Twitter to Johnson’s fans (so he said) for acting that way, and expressed that he would later give Johnson a phone call to apologize himself.
Johnson had knocked off Biffle’s bumper cover, which may well have prevented him from finishing in the top three. Biffle is also in the Chase, and currently sits in 8th place. It is his contention that he could be higher if not for that mishap, which forced him to restart at the back of the pack. Biffle (+2000 in Cup odds this week) could be right; he is only four points away from being in sixth place.
This weekend at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, another chapter in this drama will be written. The AAA Texas 500 gets started at 3 PM ET on Sunday (November 3) and will be televised on ESPN.
Johnson and Kenseth may be even in points, but in the NASCAR odds they are not precisely neck and neck. Johnson is the +300 favorite in Texas, as posted at www.TopBet.eu:
To Win AAA Texas 500 Sunday, November 3 (Drivers priced at +5000 or less)
Jimmie Johnson +300
Matt Kenseth +400
Kyle Busch +500
Jeff Gordon +800
Kasey Kahne +800
Brad Keselowski +1200
Kevin Harvick +1200
Clint Bowyer +1800
Carl Edwards +2000
Joey Logano +2000
Greg Biffle +2000
Dale Earnhardt Jr +2000
Denny Hamlin +2000
Kurt Busch +2000
Martin Truex Jr +2000
Ryan Newman +3500
Jamie McMurray +5000
In this upcoming race we see an example where both drivers have demonstrated an awful lot of command. Kenseth, for example, has the best Driver Rating at Texas among all these competitors (106.5), while Johnson is second at 103.8. They have both won twice at the venue, with fifteen top ten finishes. Kenseth (+400) is good enough on this track that he won a race after starting 31st (2002). Johnson is good enough that he defeated Kenseth in a one-on-one duel there en route to a Texas win in 2007, and won this race last year.
So on the surface, it appears that there is not going to be a whole lot to separate them on Sunday, although obviously we’ve been surprised before.
Out of the thirteen Chase drivers, only two of them (Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer) have never won a race at Texas Motor Speedway. Harvick, however, is a pretty good bet to stay in the running; in fact, he has had more starts than anybody at Texas without posting a DNF (did not finish).
The first Chase event there was held in 2005, and it was won by Carl Edwards, who has captured three checkered flags there and may be value-priced at +2000 in the TopBet Sprint Cup odds.
Kyle Busch is no longer a factor in the Chase – indeed, he has slipped into fifth place, 36 points behind the lead – but he emerged victorious in the last race held at this track (the NRA 500), winning the pole with a speed of 196.299 mph, then the race itself. He’s got the fourth-best Driver Rating at Texas, with six top-five results in 16 races there. He is priced accordingly, at +500.
Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin (all +10,000) and Jeff Gordon have been on hand to start all 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Texas. Three of those races have been won from the pole; Johnson is one of the drivers who have done it. Denny Hamlin, a +2000 shot (2010) and Edwards (2008) have won both Texas races in the same year.
Gordon, for his part, hasn’t given up at all on winning the Cup, even though he is down by 27 points entering Texas. “For us the best thing we can do is just go out there and try to win and get closer and closer and have a chance at Homestead,” he told reporters, referring to the season-ending race in Florida. “Let’s be honest. We’re all alive, but right now there’s two that are in it. Our job is to go to Texas and make it three.” He is +800 at Top Bet to make things REALLY interesting.
The best place to bet the Chase for the Sprint Cup is TopBet.eu!