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Author Archives | Brian Polking

2016 VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers

2016-Xfinity-Series-Odds-Free-Picks-Predictions2016 VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers: The inaugural XFINITY Series Chase kicks off this weekend at Kentucky Speedway, and Saturday’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 will be the first race of the seven-race playoff. With the Sprint Cup Series in New Hampshire, the race is also a non-companion event. Not surprisingly, there are barely any Cup regulars scheduled to be in the field.

Like the Chase for the Sprint Cup, a driver in the XFINITY playoffs can automatically advance to the next round of the playoffs with a win, so Saturday’s race will be a golden opportunity for one of the title contenders to punch their ticket. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the drivers to watch in this weekend’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300.

2016 VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers

The Favorites 

There aren’t many Cup drivers making the trip back and forth from Kentucky to New Hampshire, but Ryan Blaney is set to be in the XFINITY field. He has a 6.5 average finish in five starts at Kentucky, and more importantly, he is a two-time winner at the track.

He has become the super sub of the XFINITY Series, and whenever Sam Hornish Jr. has been given a chance to drive, he has been a contender. He has a 3.0 average finish in three starts this season, winning once and finishing second in his most recent start. Hornish will pilot the Richard Childress Racing No. 2 car this weekend, so he will have the equipment needed to battle for another win Saturday.

No XFINITY regular has shown more upside on a consistent basis this season than Erik Jones. His four wins and 13 top-five finishes are both the most among XFINITY drivers, and in three starts at Kentucky, he has a 4.7 average finish and has finished as high as second. Expect Jones to contend for yet another win this weekend.

The Contenders

He is one of two XFINITY Series drivers who has won multiple races this year, and no driver has been more reliable than Elliott Sadler. In the first 26 races of the year, he has logged a series-best 23 top-10s. In 10 starts at Kentucky, he owns an 8.0 average finish and has finished sixth or better five times. Meanwhile, he has never finished outside the top 15 at the track.

He has spent most of the season at or near the top of the point standings, and Daniel Suarez should be in thick of things this weekend at Kentucky. He has made three starts at Kentucky, and he has finished fourth or better in two of them, finishing a career-best third at the track earlier this year.

 

In five starts at Kentucky, Ty Dillon has never finished outside the top 15 and has compiled a 6.8 average finish. Perhaps more importantly, he has cracked the top 10 in four of his five starts here, logging a pair of third-place finishes.

While he has underwhelmed since becoming a full-time XFINITY driver, Darrell Wallace Jr. has always performed well at Kentucky. In three starts at the track, he has yet to finish outside the top 10, and he finished a career-best fifth here earlier this season. With very few Cup drivers in the field, Wallace could be poised for a career performance.

The Sleeper

It has been quite a year for Matt Tifft, who saw his promising NASCAR career put on hold because of a brain tumor. Fortunately, surgery was successful, and he is set to make his return to the XFINITY Series this weekend. Tifft finished 10th in his Kentucky debut earlier this year, and driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, he will have the best equipment in the series to work with.

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Xfinity Visitmyrtlebeach 300 Odds
Erik Jones +100
Daniel Suarez +500
Sam Hornish Jr +600
Ryan Blaney +700
Elliott Sadler +800
Justin Allgaier +800
Ty Dillon +1000
Matt Tifft +600
Darrell Wallace Jr +3000
Brendan Gaughan +3000
Field +1500

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2016 College Football Picks and Predictions: Top Matchups for Week 4

2016-Free-College-Football-Picks2016 College Football Picks and Predictions – Top Matchups for Week 4: The 2016 college football season is officially in full swing, and the action isn’t going to stop any time soon as conference play starts to ramp up. Week 4 has several big conference matchups on tap, including four between ranked teams. Five of the eight teams involved in those matchups are actually ranked in the top 15, including two top 10 teams. On that note, let’s take a closer look at the top matchups for Week 4.

2016 College Football Picks and Predictions: Top Matchups for Week 4

No. 17 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. No. 10 Texas A&M Aggies

Both teams roll into the matchup undefeated at 3-0, and while the winner will continue to have a chance to be a factor in the SEC, the loser will face an uphill battle with plenty of tough matchups still to come. The Aggies have won this game each of the last two seasons, but the Razorbacks have gagged away late leads in both.

Arkansas wants to pound the ball on the ground and wear down the Aggies on both sides of the ball, but that could prove tough. Texas A&M has showcased a balanced, potent offensive attack that ranks in the top 25 in passing, rushing and scoring. Not to mention the fact that the Aggies have put up those stout numbers despite facing a ranked UCLA team and going on the road to play Auburn.

The Razorbacks are a solid team, but the Aggies look to be much better than many expected. Texas A&M has been solid on the defensive side of the ball, and with transfer Trevor Knight solidifying the quarterback spot, the Aggies’ offensive attack hasn’t slipped much compared to past years. Arkansas is a bit overmatched in this one.

Prediction: Texas A&M Aggies (-6.5) Cover the Spread

No. 19 Florida Gators at No. 14 Tennessee Volunteers

The Gators have owned this rivalry, winning the last 11 matchups, but they are 6.5-point underdogs in this one. Florida’s defense is legit, but their already-suspect offense won’t be helped by the absence of quarterback Luke Del Rio. Meanwhile, Tennessee’s defense is pretty stout in its own right, which won’t make it any easy for Florida to put points on the board.

Granted, the Volunteers have yet to live up to the hype, but quarterback Joshua Dobbs will be by far the most potent offensive weapon on the field for either side in this matchup. I expect points to be at a premium in this one, but with the home crowd on their side and Dobbs leading the way, the Volunteers should be able to end the long losing streak

Prediction: Tennessee Volunteers (-6.5) Cover the Spread

No. 23 Ole Miss Rebels vs. No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs

At first glance, the Bulldogs seem like the obvious choice. After all, Georgia is 3-0 and is a 7-point underdog against a 1-2 Ole Miss squad. However, the Rebels two losses came to Florida State and Alabama, and they led the Seminoles 28-6 and led the Crimson Tide 28-3 before collapsing on defense.

On the flip side, Georgia has squeaked out wins against Nicholls and Missouri, and the Bulldogs offense has been lackluster despite the return of running back Nick Chubb. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is one of the best in the country, and the Rebels have shown they can put plenty of points on the board. Playing at home, look for Kelly and company to expose the Bulldogs.

Prediction: Ole Miss Rebels (-7) Cover the Spread                                

No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers at No. 8 Michigan State Spartans

Based on rankings, this is the premier matchup of the weekend, but an argument can be made that both squads still have a lot to prove. Yes, the Badgers own a win over LSU, but they needed a late rally just to sneak by Georgia State. Meanwhile, the Spartans had trouble putting away Furman before nearly blowing a big lead against Notre Dame.

Both teams will be looking to pound the ball on the ground, but neither team is likely to find that to be an easy task. Both teams have consistently been among the best defensive teams in the country, especially against the run.

In the, playing at home should help Michigan State. The Spartans haven’t lost in East Lansing since 2014, and Wisconsin enters the hostile environment with a freshman under center and several banged-up starters.

Expect a hard-hitting, grind-it-out battle, but the Spartans should emerge with a win in the end.

Prediction: Michigan State Spartans (-3.5) Cover the Spread

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2016 College Football Heisman Watch: Favorites and Contenders after Week 3

2016-Free-College-Football-Picks2016 College Football Heisman Watch – Favorites and Contenders after Week 3: The 2016 college football season is starting to hit high gear, and while it is way too early to crown a Heisman Trophy winner, there are always a few players that put themselves in the conversation with a fast start to the season. This year is no exception, and as conference play starts to begin, it’s time to take a closer look at the early frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy.

2016 College Football Heisman Watch: Favorites and Contenders after Week 3

The Favorites

It was easy to dismiss the 13 touchdowns he piled up in the first two games against inferior competition, but after the performance of Louisville QB Lamar Jackson against Florida State, the dual-threat weapon has positioned himself as one of the Heisman favorites. He piled up five scores as the Cardinals routed the Seminoles, throwing for 216 yards and running for 146 more. Jackson has now rushed for 464 yards and 10 scores and thrown for 913 yards and eight scores in just three games, and he looks unstoppable as the engine running Bobby Petrino’s offense.

He entered the season as a Heisman frontrunner, and Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey hasn’t disappointed. Against quality opponents Kansas State and USC, the do-it-all back has rushed for 298 yards and three scores, adding 10 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. He is averaging 5.6 yards per carry on the ground, and he is still being used in the return game. Even with defenses focusing on McCaffrey, it doesn’t look like he will be slowed down.

The Contenders

After splitting reps last year, Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett is thriving as the unquestioned starter. The dual-threat weapon has tallied a combined 13 touchdowns through three games, completing 67.1 percent of his passes and averaging more than 50 yards per game on the ground. Barrett and company went on the road and shredded Oklahoma in Week 3, and if the Buckeyes keep on piling up points and wins, Barrett should continue to strengthen his Heisman candidacy.

While it is tough for a defensive player to make a run at the Heisman, Michigan LB Jabrill Peppers is no ordinary defensive player. Through three games, he has tallied 25 tackles, including 3.5 sacks, while continuing to receive touches on the offensive side of the ball and on special teams. Peppers took a punt 54 yards for a score against Colorado in Week 3, and if he continues to be an explosive playmaker in every facet of the game, it won’t matter that his position is listed as linebacker.

Everyone loves a Cinderella story, and Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. has his Cougars positioned to potentially crash the College Football Playoff. He threw for 321 yards and two scores in a Week 1 upset of Oklahoma, and he threw for 326 yards and ran for 73 more in Week 3 to help Houston hold back an upset-minded Cincinnati team. Ward has always been a threat with his legs, and he appears to have made a big leap as a passer. The Cougars haven’t lost with Ward under center since the start of last season, and if they run the table this season, Ward will garner plenty of consideration from Heisman voters.

After his second straight 200-yard rushing performance, San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey now leads the nation with 599 rushing yards. He is averaging an impressive 8.2 yards per carry, and he has scored seven times. The Aztecs don’t really have any statement games on their schedule, but if Pumphrey tops 2,000 yards and scores 20-plus times, he should at least earn himself an invitation to the Heisman ceremony. If he starts to break records, he might just be the surprise winner.

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2016 Federated Auto Parts 400 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites and Contenders

2016-Federated-Auto-Parts-400-Odds-Free-Picks-and-Predictions2016 Federated Auto Parts 400 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites and Contenders: The Sprint Cup Series regular season comes to a close this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. For many drivers, Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 is their last chance to secure spot in the Chase, either on driver points or by winning the race and earning an automatic bid. Desperate drivers do desperate things, so there is a good chance the race proves to be one the more exciting events of the year. The fact that Richmond is a short track will add to the drama. With that in mind, let’s check out the drivers to watch.

2016 Federated Auto Parts 400 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites and Contenders

The Favorites

He came within a lap of winning at Richmond in the spring, and Kyle Busch is no stranger to celebrating in victory lane at the track. He is a four-time winner at RIR, and in 20 starts, he has 14 top-five finishes, including three finishes of third or better in his last four starts.

Over the last 10 races at Richmond, Kevin Harvick leads all drivers with fie top-five finishes and a 7.9 average finish. He has a pair of wins during the same stretch, and he has cracked the top five in three of his last four starts at RIR. Harvick is one of the safest bets to be in the mix for the win this weekend.

Since joining Team Penske, Joey Logano has been one of the top drivers at Richmond. He has six top-10 finishes in seven starts at the track with the organization, and more importantly, he has four top-five finishes, including a win. There is no reason to expect is hot streak to end this weekend.

He is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and Matt Kenseth won the September race in dominating fashion last year, leading 352 of the 400 laps. He has also been one of the steadiest performers at the track, finishing seventh or better in seven of his last eight starts and leading the second-most laps of any driver during the stretch.

The Contenders

A last-lap pass gave him the win at Richmond in the spring, and Carl Edwards could end up completing the season sweep at the track this weekend. After all, he has six top-10s in the last 10 races at RIR, including a pair of wins and a second-place finish.

While he has been a bit up and down at Richmond, Brad Keselowski has shown he can be downright dominant at the track. He led 383 of the 400 laps in a win in 2014, and he has led more than 100 laps three times in the last six races alone. Don’t be surprised if Keselowski ends up being the driver to beat this weekend.

Virginia native Denny Hamlin is no stranger to running up front at his home-state track. He is a two-time winner here, and he has led more than 1,400 laps at the track for his career. Hamlin finished sixth at RIR last September and sixth again in the spring race this season, so another trip to victory lane could be on tap.

He is one of the hottest drivers in the series, and Kyle Larson enters Saturday’s race on the heels of a win at Michigan and a third-place finish at Darlington. He has finished 16th or better in all five of his starts at Richmond, and as well as he has been running heading into this weekend race, Larson could be headed for a breakout performance at RIR.

He is still looking for his first Cup Series win, but Chase Elliott has been close on several occasions in recent weeks. He also has a strong history of success at Richmond. He finished 16th in his first Cup start at the track, and he finished 12th in the spring. Meanwhile, Elliott has cracked the top five in all four of his XFINITY starts at the track, winning once and compiling a 2.5 average finish.

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2016 VFW Sports Clip Help A Hero 200 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers

2016-Xfinity-Series-Odds-Free-Picks-Predictions2016 VFW Sports Clip Help A Hero 200 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers: After a stretch of three road course events in four weeks, the XFINITY Series returns to oval racing the rest of the way, beginning with Saturday’s VFW Sports Clip Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway. The race is a companion event with the Sprint Cup Series, and as is usually the case, several big names are racing in both events. With that in mind, here is a closer look at the drivers to watch in this weekend’s XFINITY Series event.

2016 VFW Sports Clip Help A Hero 200 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers

The Favorites

To say that Denny Hamlin has dominated Darlington in the XFINITY Series would be a major understatement. He is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and he has compiled a series-best 2.9 average finish in eight starts. More impressively, Hamlin has reeled off six straight top-two finishes at the track, winning four times.

He is one of the most accomplished drivers in XFINITY Series history, and Kevin Harvick will try to add to his resume this weekend. He finished fourth in this race last season, and he has five top-10s in his last six starts at the track, including three straight.

In five starts at Darlington between the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series, Kyle Larson has never finished outside the top 10. In fact, he has finished seventh or better in all three of his starts at the track in the XFINITY Series. Larson’s love of the high line works perfectly at Darlington, and he should be in the mix once again this weekend.

The Contenders

He crashed in his only start at Darlington in the XFINITY Series, but Ryan Blaney is always a contender when he gets behind the wheel of the Team Penske No. 22. He has 35 top-10s in 47 starts, including four wins, and so he should be within striking distance of the front this weekend.

Although he has never made a start at Darlington, you can expect Erik Jones to be in contention in his track debut. After all, he leads all series regulars in wins and top-five finishes this year, so don’t expect the lack of experience to slow him down at all.

 

Veteran Elliott Sadler has always shown a good feel for Darlington. In his last five starts here, he has three top-three finishes, and he has been the runner-up in two of the last three races here. The only thing left for Sadler to do is seal the deal.

 

Darlington can be tough on young drivers, but Daniel Suarez more than held his own in his track debut last season, ending up with a third-place finish. He has been one of the most consistent drivers all year, so Suarez is a safe bet to be running near the front again this weekend.

He has a 9.8 average finish in five career starts at Darlington in the XFINITY Series, and Justin Allgaier has been on a roll recently, surging up to third in points. He has finished in the top 10 in three of his five starts at Darlington, and he has a pair of top-five finishes. Allgaier could ride his momentum to a win this weekend.

The Sleeper

Darlington hasn’t been his best track, but Brendan Gaughan has been one of the hottest drivers in the series entering Saturday’s race. He has six straight finishes of 11th or better, and he back-to-back top-five finishes. With momentum on his side Gaughan could pull off the upset at a track that hasn’t been overly kind.

Get the latest updated NASCAR odds every day on NSAwins.com!

2016 VFW Sports Clip Help A Hero 200 Odds
Denny Hamlin +200
Erik Jones +350
Kevin Harvick +500
Kyle Larson +500
Daniel Suarez +700
Ryan Blaney +1000
Paul Menard +1500
Justin Allgaier +2000
Ty Dillon +2000
Elliott Sadler +2500
Darrell Wallace Jr +3000
Brendan Gaughan +4000
Field +1200

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2016 Food City 300 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers

2016-Xfinity-Series-Odds-Free-Picks-Predictions2016 Food City 300 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers: The XFINITY Series will take a break from its heavy stretch of road course events with a trip to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. Friday night’s Food City 300 will be a companion race with the Cup Series, and as one of the most popular tracks, it is no surprise that several big names are pulling double duty. A loaded field at the high-banked short track should lead to an entertaining affair. Check out a closer look at the drivers to watch.

2016 Food City 300 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers

The Favorites

To say that Kyle Busch has dominated at Bristol would be a major understatement. He is an eight-time winner at the track, and seven of those wins have come in his last 11 starts here. Busch is also the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and he has finished third or better in seven straight starts at Bristol.

While it has been a few years since Brad Keselowski has made an XFINITY Series start at Bristol, he should return with a bang this weekend. He is a former winner at the track, and he has finished fourth or better in six of his 13 XFINITY starts here. Keselowski was the runner-up in his most-recent start at Bristol, and he should be back in the mix for the win Friday night.

He is still looking for his first win at Bristol, but Kyle Larson has already come close to winning on several occasions. He has cracked the top five in five of his six starts at the track, and more importantly, Larson has finished second three times.

The Contenders

After winning the spring race at Bristol, Erik Jones will try for a season sweep at the short track Friday night. His 4.3 average finish here is tied for the best in the series, and in three starts, he has never finished outside the top 10. Jones leads all series regulars in wins and top-five finishes, and he could add to both totals this weekend.

The other driver with a series-best 4.3 average finish at Bristol is Daniel Suarez. He has finished sixth or better in all three of his starts at the track, and he has finished as high as second. He has been in contention in every start he has made at Bristol, and there is no reason to expect that to change this weekend.

He has been rock solid at Bristol throughout his career, and in six starts here in the XFINITY Series, Ty Dillon has never finished worse than seventh. More importantly, he has cracked the top five in three of his last four starts. It is only a matter of time before Dillon breaks through and wins at Bristol.

He is a former winner at Bristol, and Justin Allgaier showed he hasn’t lost the feel for the track with his performance here in April. In his first start at Bristol since a fourth-place finish in 2013, he logged a top-five finish. Allgaier could be even better this weekend in his second start back since returning to the XFINTIY Series.

Although he has been in a slump at Bristol, Elliott Sadler is a former winner at the track at both the XFINITY and Cup level. He also enters Friday’s race as the point leader, so consistency has been his strength. Sadler could recapture his former Bristol magic this weekend.

The Sleeper

While Jeff Gordon has been subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the Cup level, Regan Smith will step in for Junior in the XFINITY Series event this weekend. The former JR Motorsports driver should know his equipment well, and he finished in the top 10 in three of his last four starts at Bristol. Smith’s unexpected return could end in impressive fashion.

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2016 Mid-Ohio 200 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers

2016-Xfinity-Series-Odds-Free-Picks-Predictions2016 Mid-Ohio 200 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers: There are certain races on the schedule that you just know are going to be wild affairs, and Saturday’s Mid-Ohio 200 is one of those races. For one, it is a road course event, and not many drivers have a lot of road course experience. Not to mention the fact that the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be hosting an XFINITY Series race for just the fourth time, so no one has much experience at the track. Throw in the fact that the Sprint Cup Series has an off week, and the series is void of the typical big names who tend to dominate. With that in mind, here is a closer look at the drivers to watch.

2016 Mid-Ohio 200 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites, Contenders & Sleepers

The Favorites

His starts in the XFINITY Series have been sporadic recently, but Sam Hornish Jr. already has one win under his belt as a part-time driver this season, and he could get another this weekend. He has three top-five finishes in his last five road course, including a third-place run at Mid-Ohio in 2013. Hornish has also led laps in all five races during the stretch, so there is no doubt he can run at the front of the field.

While he has only made one road course starts at the XFINITY level, Ryan Blaney left little doubt he is able to compete at a high level. He started third and finished second in a road course race last year, and he will be one of the most accomplished drivers in the field this weekend, driving one of the top cars, the Team Penske No. 22. Raw talent and elite equipment will go a long way.

 

His 6.3 average finish at Mid-Ohio is the best of any driver in the field this weekend, and Elliott Sadler has cracked the top 10 in all three of his starts at the track. The veteran is also one of the best road racers in the series, and he has finished in the top 10 in nine of his last 10 road course starts. In a weaker field, Sadler’s experience should put him in the hunt for the win.

The Contenders

He is a former road course winner, and Justin Allgaier has established himself as one of the better road course performers among the XFINITY regulars. He has four top-10s in four road course starts since 2013, and he finished eighth in his only start at Mid-Ohio. Given the field this weekend, Allgaier should have a good shot at his second road course win.

His aggressive style can ruffle some feathers, but it has also allowed Ty Dillon to compile a solid road racing resume. He has four top-10s in his last seven road course races, including a third-place run at Mid-Ohio last year. Dillon also led his most laps ever in a road course event at Watkins Glen earlier this year. A win should only be a matter of time.

Point leader Daniel Suarez doesn’t have a ton of road racing experience, but he appears to be a fast learner. He has three top-15 finishes in four road course starts, logging an 11th-place finish in his first start at Mid-Ohio last year and a fourth-place finish at Watkins Glen last weekend. With an even weaker field this weekend, his top-five finish could become a win.

The Sleepers

While he doesn’t driver for a powerhouse team, Brendan Gaughan has more than held his own in road course events in recent years. He actually picked up a road course win in 2014, and he logged a top-10 finish at the first road course event of the season last weekend at Watkins Glen. Gaughan has plenty of experience on his side, and he has shown can pull off an upset on a road course.

It has been a few years since he has made a start in the XFINITY Series, but Nelson Piquet Jr.’s extensive background in road course racing should serve him well. After all, he already has an XFINITY win at a road course under his belt from back in 2013. In a field lacking Cup regulars, Piquet’s road racing skill could make him a surprise factor despite the layoff.

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2016 Sprint Cup Series Power Rankings: Top 10 Championship Contenders

2016-Sprint-Cup-Series-Power-Rankings2016 Sprint Cup Series Power Rankings – Top 10 Championship Contenders: The start of NASCAR’s playoffs, also known as the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, is just four races away, but before the regular season comes to an end, teams will enjoy one last off weekend. While the drivers and crews prepare for the stretch run, let’s take a closer look at the drivers that appear poised to contend for the crown.

2016 Sprint Cup Series Power Rankings: Top 10 Championship Contenders

  1. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski and his team have been the total package this season. His 10 top-five finishes are the second most in the series, and he is tied for the most wins. He heads into the off week as the point leader, and not only has he shown excellent speed week in and week out, but his crew chief always seems to be on the mark with pit strategy. If this team keeps firing on all cylinders, Keselowski could be a two-time champ by the end of the year.
  1. Kyle Busch: His four DNFs are a concern, but when he is dialed in, no driver has more upside than the defending champ. His four wins are tied for the most in the series, and his 11 top-five finishes lead all drivers. Busch also ranks second in laps led. If he makes it back to the final race in title contention, it is hard to see anyone outrunning Busch in a must-win race.
  1. Kevin Harvick: He won the title the first year the championship formula changed, and Harvick was the runner-up last year. No driver shows a more consistent blend of reliability and upside, and nothing has changed in 2016. His 17 top-10s are the most of any driver, and Harvick has led the third-most laps. If his pit crew can get its act together, he would probably have several more wins and be at the top of the power rankings.
  1. Martin Truex Jr.: I’m not sure if he broke a mirror or walked under a ladder, but no driver has shown more speed but had worse luck than Truex this year. His 990 laps led are the most in the series, but his three top-five finishes are the fewest of any driver in the top 10 in points. Still, Truex made the final race last year with a shot at the title, and he has shown an even higher ceiling this year. He will need his luck to change, but Truex has title-winning speed.
  1. Joey Logano: He has caught fire since the All-Star Race, and Logano is starting to look like the title contender he was expected to be. He has eight top-10s in 10 races since the All-Star Race, and he has six of his nine top-five finishes during the same stretch. Logano has also led laps in seven of those 10 races, so he is starting to flex some serious muscle.
  1. Kurt Busch: Busch deserves a ton of credit for the consistency he has displayed this season. His 16 top-10s are the second most of any driver, and he has managed to complete every lap through the first 22 races of the season, setting a new record. That being said, he has just one top-five finish in the right races since his win at Pocono, and while consistency could get him to the championship finale, it won’t be enough to net him a title.
  1. Carl Edwards: He looked like one of the drivers to beat for the title after winning back-to-back races at Bristol and Richmond in April, but Edwards has slipped a bit since. He has still delivered plenty of top-10 runs, but he has also sprinkled in a few DNFs and just hasn’t shown the consistent high-end speed. I’m not counting Edwards out, but other drivers are starting to peak while Edwards may have already shown his best hand.
  1. Matt Kenseth: Speed hasn’t been an issue for Kenseth. After all, he has two wins and ranks fifth in laps led this year. Unfortunately, luck hasn’t been on his side, and he has managed just four top-five finishes despite having strong cars on a routine basis. He could easily go on a hot streak and win the title, but he can’t seem to stay out of trouble for more than a few races in a row.
  1. Denny Hamlin: He picked up his second win of the year heading into the off week, and while Hamlin ran hot and cold at the beginning of the year, he could be catching fire at the right time. He has cracked the top 15 in nine of his last 11 starts, and he has logged four straight top-10s. Hamlin has twice gone into the final race with a chance to win the title. He just needs to seal the deal.
  1. Jimmie Johnson: It’s hard to believe the six-time champ is this low on the list, but like the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports team, Johnson has been off the mark recently. Yes, he grabbed two wins early in the year, but his eight top-10s are the fewest of any driver in the top 10 in points, and he has just one top 10 in nine races since the start of June. This team is running out of time to figure things out.

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2016 Cheez-It 355 at The Glen Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites and Contenders

2016-Xfinity-Series-Odds-Free-Picks-Predictions2016 Cheez-It 355 at The Glen Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites and Contenders: The Sprint Cup Series heads to Watkins Glen International for the second and final road course race of the 2016 season. The track is faster than the other road course on the schedule, Sonoma, but The Glen still requires drivers to possess an excellent combination of skills to handle the twisting corners and elevation changes. Some of the best names in the sport never master road racing while it seems to bring out the best in some surprising names. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the drivers to watch in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.

2016 Cheez-It 355 at The Glen Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites and Contenders

The Favorites

He is a two-time winner at Watkins Glen, and Kyle Busch has nine top-10s in 11 career starts at the track. He finished second at the track last season, and no driver has led more laps in the last 10 road course races, leading at least 29 laps in three of the last five races at The Glen.

His 8.4 average finish at Watkins Glen is the best among active drivers, and in 10 career starts at the track, Carl Edwards has never finished outside the top 20. More importantly, he has nine straight top 15 finishes at the track, and he has five top-five finishes during that stretch, including two in his last three starts.

Road racing ace A.J. Allmendinger won at Watkins Glen in 2014, and the track has easily been his best on the schedule. In seven career starts, he has six top-15 finishes, and his 10.1 average finish ranks second among drivers in the field. To top it off, Allmendinger has led 20 or more laps in four of the last five road course events.

He is one of the most underrated road course racers in the series, and his seven top-10s in the last 10 road course events are the second most of any drivers. At Watkins Glen, he has six top-10s in his last eight starts, including three straight. Perhaps most importantly, Busch has back-to-back top-five finishes at The Glen since joining Stewart-Haas Racing.

The Contenders

He used fuel mileage to win at Watkins Glen last year, but even before the pit strategy came into play, Joey Logano was on his way to a top-five finish. Since joining Team Penske, he has been on an upswing at the track, finishing in the top 10 in all three starts and compiling a 4.8 average finish.

Although he has never won at Watkins Glen, Brad Keselowski has certainly come close on numerous occasions. He has four top-10s in six starts here, and he has finished second on three separate occasions. Keselowski has led the fifth-most laps in the last 10 road course events, and he led 27 at The Glen last season.

He is a former winner at Watkins Glen, and Kevin Harvick led a race-high 29 laps here last year before running out of gas while leading coming to the finish line. He has six straight top-15 finishes at The Glen, and he has back-to-back top-10s here since joining Stewart-Haas Racing.

While he needed the help of pit strategy to win at Sonoma earlier this year, Tony Stewart still showed that his road course skills haven’t completely deteriorated. His eight road course wins are the second most in series history, and his five wins at Watkins Glen are the most in track history. Stewart is on fire heading into Sunday’s race, and a road course sweep isn’t out of the question.

He has always been an underrated road racer, and Martin Truex Jr. has delivered three top-10s in his last five starts at Watkins Glen, picking up a pair of top-five finishes in that stretch. Most importantly, Truex looked particularly strong at Sonoma earlier this year in his first road course race since his team formed an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. Truex started third and finished fifth at Sonoma, and he could be a contender again Sunday at The Glen.

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2016 Zippo 200 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites and Contenders

2016-Xfinity-Series-Odds-Free-Picks-Predictions2016 Zippo 200 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites and Contenders: The XFINITY Series heads to Watkins Glen International this weekend, and Saturday’s Zippo 200 will be the first of three road courses events in the next four races. Unlike the next two road course races, Saturday’s race at The Glen will also be a companion event with the Cup Series, so the field is loaded with big names pulling double duty. In fact, Team Penske is fielding an extra car for the race so that both Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano can be in the field. For a close look at the teammates, along with the rest of the drivers to watch, check out my Zippo 200 preview.

2016 Zippo 200 Odds, Free Picks & Predictions – Favorites and Contenders

The Favorites

His 4.0 average finish at Watkins Glen in the XFINITY Series is the best of any driver in the field this weekend, and in seven starts, he has never finished outside the top 10. He also has five straight finishes of fourth or better at the track, winning in 2013 and finishing second in last year’s event.

Although he has never won an XFINITY event at Watkins Glen, Kyle Busch has finished sixth or better in six of his eight starts, and he has three second-place finishes at the track. Busch is also a two-time winner at The Glen at the Cup level, so he can clearly seal the deal here.

He is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and Joey Logano has finished in the top 10 in five of his eight XFINITY races at the track. More importantly, he has finished in the top three four times here, including in each of the last two races.

The Contenders

While he has struggled in his XFINITY Series starts at Watkins Glen, Kyle Larson is still one of the most talented drivers in the field this weekend. He has a 24.3 average finish in his three starts here at the XFINITY level, but he has been rock solid at the track in the Cup Series. At some point, talent will catch up with the results. Don’t forget about Larson this weekend.

He has six top-10s in nine XFINITY Series starts at Watkins Glen, and Paul Menard has actually reeled off four straight top-10s here. Granted, he only has one top-five finish here, but the fact that he is always running near the front isn’t a fluke. The fact that he is one of the more experienced drivers in the field won’t hurt his chance either.

Veteran Elliott Sadler is one of the most accomplished XFINITY regulars when it comes to road course racing, and his numbers at Watkins Glen back that up. He has an 8.4 average finish in five starts at the track, and he has cracked the top 10 in four of his starts, including three straight. Sadler is basically a lock to be in the mix.

The sample size is small, but Ty Dillon has shown the skill and aggressive style needed to succeed at road course racing. In two starts at Watkins Glen, he has a pair of top-10s to his credit, including a fifth-place finish last year. Another year of experience should only help his chance of competing for the win.

He will be making his first start at Watkins Glen, but Erik Jones has shown all season that no XFINITY Series regular has more upside. His three wins and 11 top-five finishes are both the most among non-Cup drivers, so his track debut could be something special.

The Sleeper

He has had success at road racing all over the world, and Kenny Habul will try to make some noise in the XFINITY Series this weekend. He has shown some potential in previous years in a few starts with Joe Gibbs Racing, and he will once again have excellent equipment to work with when he pilots the JR Motorsports No. 88.

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