NASCAR Sprint Cup Futures Update – June
The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup series returns to the fabled Daytona International Speedway this week for the running of the Coke Zero 400 this upcoming Saturday night. After last week’s road race at Sonoma, 16 of the 36 Sprint Cup point races on the schedule have been run and as expected, the top 10 of the current point standings is littered with familiar names including five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, fan-favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., and long-time NASCAR veteran Jeff Gordon, who has revitalized his career with two victories this year.
It has been a season to remember so far for Carl Edwards, who is off to the best start of his Sprint Cup series career with 12 top 10 finishes in the first 16 races plus a victory in the All-Star Race at Charlotte, which is a non-point race. He leads the Sprint Cup standings with 573 points and continues to be Bodog’s favorite to win the title this season at 5/2. What makes his accomplishments even more impressive is the fact that he has actually finished in the top five in nine races and notched a victory at Las Vegas back in March. Edwards has over $5 million in earnings this season, including the $1 million bonus he received for winning the All-Star Race.
Kyle Busch is the second favorite to win the 2011 title at 3/1. He is also having a very productive season so far with nine top ten finishes. He has been able to make his way to victory lane twice this year; at Bristol in late March and at Richmond at the end of May. Busch is currently in fifth-place in the standings with 536 points and has an average finishing position in the first 16 races off 11.4.
This has not been one of Jimmie Johnson’s best starts to a Sprint Cup season in terms of victories, as Talladega is his only one so far, but he is still very much within striking distance in the standings with a total of 540 points. What Johnson has done is finish in the top 10 in 10 races and in the top five in five. His average finishing position this season has been 11.0, which is actually a bit better than an 11.7 career average so it is little wonder that the five-time champion is the third-favorite to make it six in-a-row at 5/1.
The fourth-favorite to break Johnson’s streak and win the Sprint Cup title is Kevin Harvick at 7/1. He came painfully close last season, but ended up third in the standings after failing to catch the No. 48 car in the final race of the season. He has turned things up as of late with back- to-back victories at Fontana and Martinsville, followed by a victory at Charlotte to move into second-place in the standings with 548 points, just 25 points back. Along with a series-high three wins, Harvick has six other top 10 finishes this season and an average finishing position of 10.9.
A couple of drivers that have made some noise this season and remain a legitimate threat to win it all are Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth at 8/1. Junior is off to his best start in recent memory, but still searching for that elusive first win. Poor finishes that past two weeks have dropped him to seventh-place in the standings with 508 points, but still has eight top 10 finishes in 16 races after having the same amount in 36 last year.
Kenseth is one of just four drivers with multiple victories this year. He took the checkered flag at Texas in early April, came in first at Dover in mid- May and recorded six other top 10 finishes this year. He is currently in sixth-place in the standings with 521 points; 52 points behind Edwards.