2014 AAA 400 Odds, Picks and Predictions: Favorites, Sleepers and Drivers to Avoid: The Cup Series heads back to Dover International Speedway this weekend, and while the “Monster Mile” has earned its nickname in part because of its ability to tear up a lot of racecars, the chaos at the track could reach an all-time high this weekend. After all, Sunday’s AAA 400 will be the first-ever elimination race in the sport’s history thanks to a new playoff format that eliminates four drivers every three races. As it stands, seven drivers are in great shape to advance, but that still leaves nine drivers fighting to advance to the next round. With that in mind, a wild finish seems inevitable Sunday, and here is a closer look at the drivers that could emerge with a win.
Not only is Jimmie Johnson the defending winner of this weekend’s race, but he is going for a three-peat at the track after winning the June race earlier this year. He is also the all-time leader with nine wins at Dover, and Johnson’s victories tend to come in dominating fashion. In the past five races alone, he has a series-leading three wins and has led 990 of the 2,000 laps during the stretch.
He owns a series-leading five wins in 2014, and Brad Keselowski has been dialed in at Dover recently. In his last four starts at the track, he has notched three top-five finishes, winning the September race in 2012 and finishing second earlier this season. Keselowski has been one og the best drivers in the series all season, and don’t be surprised if he ends up in victory lane again Sunday.
In 19 starts at Dover, Kyle Busch has finished seventh or better 12 times, including seven times in his last nine starts at the track. More importantly, he is a two-time winner at Dover, and he tends to spend a lot of time at the front of the field. Busch ranks second with 563 laps led in the last five races at Dover, and the gap between him and the third-place driver is an incredible 479 laps.
Although he has never won a race at Dover, Joey Logano has been on a nice roll at the track lately. He has finished in the top 10 in his last five starts at the track, and he has a 6.0 average finish in three starts at the track since joining Team Penske in 2013. Logano finished a career-best third at Dover last September, and with a career-high four wins already under his belt in 2014, a big performance could be on tap this weekend.
He is a two-time winner at Dover for his career, and although he doesn’t have a win in 2014, Matt Kenseth could certainly change that this weekend. After all, he has 10 top-10s in his last 13 starts at Dover. During the stretch, he has notched nine top-five finishes, including a third-place finish earlier this year.
He is currently winless at Dover, but Kevin Harvick has been plenty consistent at the track. He has nine top-15s in his last 10 starts at Dover, including five top-10s in his last seven starts. Meanwhile, Harvick was leading the June race at the track earlier this year before hitting a piece of the track surface that crumbled and came loose causing serious damage to the nose of his car. With some better luck Sunday, Harvick could be celebrating in victory lane.
It has been a rough year for Tony Stewart on and off the track, and while it will no doubt take time for him to recover emotionally from the dirt track accident that claimed the life of another driver, the fact that he was cleared of any wrongdoing by a grand jury this week has to take some weight off his shoulders. Meanwhile, his last two trips to Dover have resulted in a trip to victory lane a seventh-place finish earlier this year.
Big Name to Avoid
Although he actually won at Dover in the fall of 2011, Kurt Busch has been dreadful at the track since the victory. He has finished outside the top 10 in all five starts since the win, finishing outside the top 15 four times and outside the top 20 three times. Busch has shown no signs of regaining his winning form at Dover any time soon.
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