2012 Crown Royal 400 Expert Picks – Betting on Underdogs for Big Payoffs: For a long time, there were never upsets at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Cup Series. In the first 16 races at the track, 14 winners were also series champions, and eight drivers actually won at Indy and went on to win the title in the same year. The two non-champions to win during the stretch were proven race winners Ricky Rudd and Kevin Harvick. In short, only the sports elite could win at Indianapolis. However, that has changed the last two years with Jamie McMurray winning in 2010 and Paul Menard winning last season. In fact, Menard became the first driver ever to make Indy the site of his first career Cup win. The underdogs are trying for a three-peat this weekend, and here are a few options bettors may want to consider.

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In his very first start at Indianapolis in the Cup Series, Juan Pablo Montoya finished second. Since then, he has had fast car after fast car at the track, only to watch things unravel late in races. There is no doubt that Montoya is putting a ton of pressure on himself to become the first driver to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the Cup Series race at Indy, and the pressure he is putting on himself has led to mistakes. However, there is also no doubt that he knows how to get around the 2.5-mile track. Montoya has led 202 laps in his last three starts at the track alone, and he leads all driver with a 5.0 average starting position. He hasn’t been able to close the deal just yet, but with his history of getting out front and leading laps, he is a pretty attractive betting option at his current 35/1 odds.

For the last two and a half years, Jeff Burton has slowly seen a drop in his production, going from a perennial Chase contender to a driver that struggles to crack the top 10. Despite being on the down slope of his career, Burton could turn back the clock this weekend at Indianapolis. He has finished in the top 10 in three of his last five starts at Indianapolis, and he has a top 10 driver rating at the track. In fact, he is actually getting better at the track. He has just two top-10s in his first 13 starts at Indy but has more than doubled that total since 2007. No to mention the fact that Burton has always been at his best at flat tracks, winning 10 of his 17 career races on flat surfaces. With his current 55/1 odds, bettors may want to consider taking a gamble on a veteran, experienced driver with a history of success at the Brickyard. Burton could end up being a steal.

A lot of people still look at Jamie McMurray’s victory at Indianapolis in 2010 as a fluke, and the oddsmakers must be included in that group. After all, McMurray is a 66/1 longshot to win this weekend despite having five career top-10 finishes in nine starts at Indy. He has been even better lately, finishing sixth or better in three of his last five starts at the track, including his memorable win in 2010 and a fourth-place run last year.. Even in his down years, and there have been plenty in his career, McMurray still manages to be competitive at Indianapolis. The potential payoff is sizeable, and bettors aren’t going to find a former winner and proven contender getting longer odds.

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Check out the latest 2012 Crown Royal 400 odds and predictions from NSAwins.com’s NASCAR handicapping expert Brian Polking!


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