NASCAR Sprint Cup Futures Update – July 20th
Ryan Newman’s victory last Sunday in New Hampshire marked the 19th point race of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup series 36-race schedule and with just seven races remaining until the start of the 10-race ‘Chase’ to this year’s title, the top 10 of the current point standings remains littered with familiar names including five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, long-time NASCAR veteran Jeff Gordon, and fan-favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr.
With the series on hiatus until the Brickyard 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31, it is a good time to take a look at some of the top contenders and their current odds to win this year’s title as provided by Bodog.com.
Carl Edwards remains the favorite to wrestle the Sprint Cup title away Johnson at 7/2. He is having a career year so far with 13 top 10 finishes in the 19 races he has run. He actually finished in the top five in 10 of the races and has one point race victory. Edwards also won the All-Star race in May, which does not count in the standings, but added a cool $1 million to his earnings this year. He is back on top in the Sprint Cup standings with 652 points after falling out of first a few weeks back.
The second favorite to win this year’s cup is Kyle Busch at 4/1. He is one of just two drivers with three Sprint Cup victories this year and is currently fifth in the standings with 632 points. Busch has also been very consistent this season with 10 top five finishes and one additional finish in the top 10. His last victory came just two weeks ago in the inaugural Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. He also has wins at Bristol and Richmond, which will both host one more race this year. If Busch can find a way to keep it together during the Chase, which has been his problem in the past, he has an excellent shot at dethroning Johnson.
Speaking of Johnson, the five-time champ has not been his sharpest this year in pursuit of No. 6, but is still the third favorite at 9/2 to wind up on top at the end of the year. He has only made it to victory lane once this season with a win at Talladega, but still has 12 top 10 finishes including seven in the top five. He is holding down the second spot in the standings with 645 points, just seven behind Edwards. Nobody will want to see Johnson in their rearview mirror once the Chase begins, because that is traditionally when he is at his best. Take the longer odds on the No.48 car now as they will most likely only go down from here.
Things drop off after these three with Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick all listed at 8/1 to win this year’s title. Kenseth is the only driver in this group with a Sprint Cup title on his resume after winning it all in 2003. Last season he finished fourth in the standings and is currently sixth this year with 626 points.
Hamlin and Harvick both came dangerously close to winning last year, as each driver had a shot at taking home the cup heading into the final race of the season at Homestead. Johnson was able to hold them off to win his fifth straight title, but Hamlin was second, just 39 points back and Harvick was third, just 41 points back in the final standings. Of the two, Harvick is having the better season this year with three victories along with seven other top 10 finishes. He is currently in fourth-place in the standings with 627 points.
Hamlin led the Sprint Cup series in wins last season with a total of eight, but he has only taken the checkered flag once this season. He does have seven top 10 finishes, including four in the top five and is 10th in the standings with 570 points.
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