Fantasy Win Odds for the 2013 AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta
Two more races remain before NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup begins and Sunday night's race is a make or break point for a number of teams. Prior series champions Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, and Jeff Gordon sit outside the top ten in points and lack a win to qualify for a wild card spot. It's a safe bet all three teams are sweating out the next two races. Do they go for a win to leapfrog the current wild card holders? Do they aim for a top ten finish and play it safe, hoping that someone in front of them falters to open up a slot in the top ten? Much will depend on the action on the track at Atlanta this holiday weekend.
Before going any further, a quick note. We'll be looking at the statistics over the past ten races, all courtesy of racing-reference.com. Going any further back takes us into fourth generation cars and a completely different race environment in terms of competition on the track. We're also in no way advocating gambling in any way shape or form. These odds are purely for informational purposes only. Atlanta features both a weathered race surface and a new tire from Goodyear. The interaction between the two could make pit strategy very interesting.
Check out the finish to last year's AdvoCare 500 from Atlanta
Driver: Matt Kenseth
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
Odds of Winning: 4-1
Coming off his fifth win of the season, Kenseth pulls into Atlanta as a favorite. While he has no wins in the last ten races he's finished in top ten seven times. He has the best average finish at the track over that time at 7.4, improving over 11 positions per race on his starting spot. He's a Chase lock thanks to those five victories and this is a track he knows well. He has nothing to gain by playing safe at this point- so he'll be someone to watch if the race comes down to a strategy call near the end.
Driver: Jeff Gordon
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Odds of Winning: 8-1
With several drivers ahead of him in the standings faltering at Bristol, Gordon was able to gain ground in the points standings and now sits only 11 points out of 10th place. Like Kenseth he has seven top ten finishes in the last ten Atlanta races and an average finish of 7.7. He's also led nearly 8% of the laps run during that timeframe. His advantage on Kenseth is that he also starts near the front, landing in the first four rows on average. This will help him avoid being caught up in someone else's mistake; with so many drivers fighting for a wild card spot, the chances of that mistake happening are high.
Driver: Kevin Harvick
Team: Richard Childress Racing
Odds of Winning: 10-1
Harvick sits in a curious Chase position. He's in fourth place, 75 points ahead of tenth place, and in little danger of missing NASCAR's playoffs. He has two wins so far this season which will provide him with bonus points after Richmond. Yet Harvick gets little credit for the season he's having nor does he get much respect in terms of his chances to win a championship in his final season with Childress. That lack of attention plus a solid track (six top ten finishes, an average improvement of over 10 spots per race) may prove to be the perfect place for “The Closer” to earn another victory heading into the Chase.
Driver: Kurt Busch
Team: Furniture Row Racing
Odds of Winning: 15-1
Normally, Busch's stats would make him a favorite instead of a sleeper. But the announcement this week that he would be joining Stewart Haas Racing (and the accompanying drama associated with that announcement) means his chances at victory are being overlooked. Kurt has two wins and six top ten finishes over the last ten races. He's also led over 15% of the laps, far and away the highest in the field. If he and his team can set aside the drama off track, Busch will have every chance to deliver Sunday night on it.
Driver: Brian Vickers
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
Odds of Winning: 20-1
Much has changed for this team since the hauler pulled out of Thunder Valley. The driver (Mark Martin) and crew chief (Rodney Childers) are both gone, off to chase future opportunities with Stewart Haas racing. Vickers, already announced as the full time driver for 2014 and beyond, now gets an early start as he'll run the #55 for all but one remaining race. He's run eight of the last ten races at Atlanta and has one top five and five top ten finishes in that timeframe. He's also improved his average start by over five places. He already has one win in the #55 this season and Vickers has the chance to re-launch the #55 in victory lane here.
Driver: Jeff Burton
Team: Richard Childress Racing
Odds of Winning: 25-1
2013 (like 2012 before it) hasn't been Burton's finest hour. Atlanta may be his last great opportunity to pull out a win for RCR this season. His average finish ranks sixth among drivers starting Sunday night over the last ten races and he has four top ten finishes during that time. He's improved 8.4 spots per race on his starting spot, one of the best numbers in the field. Finally, Atlanta is a track his teammates have run good at as well, meaning Burton should have all the setup information necessary to be competitive.
Logano hasn't had much luck at Atlanta
The Suckers Bets:
Driver: Danica Patrick
Team: Stewart Haas Racing
Odds of Winning: 1000-1
Patrick ran the Atlanta track once before on the Cup level and the experience doesn't bode well for this race. She was a distant 29th place, six laps down. Only three cars running at the finish were further behind. This year, her highest qualifying position (outside of restrictor plate tracks) is a 22nd place start last week at Bristol. There's no reason to believe she'll start up front here; being deep in the starting field at an intermediate track is a recipe for disaster. Poor track position makes her vulnerable to being lapped early and also puts the #10 at risk of being caught up in another car's mistake.
Driver: Joey Logano
Team: Penske Racing
Odds of Winning: 200-1
Logano has run six of the last ten races at Atlanta and he's had little success in any of them. This is the track the #22 team has to be concerned about in the run up to the Chase. With an average star of 28th place, a finish of 26th and zero laps led, Logano needs to be light years better than he's ever been before. He sits on the knife's edge in points at 10th; while he has a victory that would qualify him for a wild card, he isn't the only driver in that spot. A 30th place finish vs a victory by one of the former champions listed in the intro would be disastrous.
Driver: Jaime McMurray
Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
Odds of Winning: 100-1
With several Chase contenders crashing towards the end in Bristol, McMurray had every opportunity to pull a Jeff Gordon and close the gap in the points standings. Instead, his team whiffed on the setup and Jaime finished three laps down in 20th position. He's now 38 points outside of 10th place without a win and virtually eliminated from Chase contention. He needs a top five run (or a win) to get back in the conversation and Atlanta isn't a likely track for either. Over the last ten races he has a single top ten and an average finish of 21.5. He hasn't led a single lap and has only improved his start by 0.2 positions. Given the finish needed versus prior performance, McMurray will be likely to take a big risk in strategy if the situation presents itself; the problem is that there's a difference between a calculated risk and a hail-mary pass. It's hail-mary time at EGR.