2011 Top Gear 300 Vegas Odds, Free Picks and Predictions – Favorites and Drivers to Bet On: While many nationwide races are a chance for the Cup Series regulars to have some fun, this weekend’s race at Charlotte is actually an excellent warm up for the Cup race on Sunday. The handling at the 1.5-mile track changes drastically as the sun goes down and the temperatures cool, and this is true in both the Nationwide and Cup events. As a result, the Cup drivers that do run Saturday night have a leg up on the competition for Sunday. It is no surprise that plenty of big names tend to turn out for this one.
In the May event, Kyle Busch emerged from a three-way battle between the Nationwide Series’ biggest names to pick up the win. He was able to hold off Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano during a green-white-checkered finish, and together the three combined to lead 152 of the 203 laps. Keselowski actually led the most laps with 65 – one more than Busch. Kasey Kahne was a factor early in the event and led 29 laps, but a mechanical issue knocked him out of contention.
After his runner-up effort in May, Keselowski sealed the deal in the fall race. Ironically, it was somewhat of a reversal of the May race. Busch led a race-high 84 laps, but his car faded late in the race while Keselowski’s came to life. After grabbing the top spot, Keselowski had no problem holding off Martin Truex Jr. for the victory.
No driver has dominated the Nationwide Series at Charlotte more than Kyle Busch. He has eight straight top-10 finishes at the track, and more importantly, he has amassed a stunning six victories. Busch is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and he has won four of the last six Nationwide events at Charlotte.
The driver poised to become the best in the series at Charlotte is Brad Keselowski. He has notched six straight top-10 finishes at the track, and he took his performance to the next level in 2010. After finishing second in the May event, Keselowski went out and won the fall race, preventing a Kyle Busch three-peat.
His lone win at Charlotte came back in 2006, but Carl Edwards has remained consistent at the 1.5-mile track. He has finished 13th or better in his last six starts, picking up a pair of top-five finishes along the way. More importantly, Edwards has been enjoying a strong season, picking up three wins through the first 12 races.
The Dark Horses
In five starts at Charlotte, Joey Logano has compiled an 8.0 average finish and has never finished outside the top 15. Although he hasn’t won, he has recorded top-five finishes in three of his last four starts, including a pair in 2010. Logano was a contender for the win last May at the track, and with another year of experience under his belt, he could get over the hump.
Steady improvement has been the name of the game for Justin Allgaier at Charlotte. After a pair of top-15 finishes in 2009, he delivered a pair of top-five finishes at the track in 2010. If the pattern continues, Allgaier could be a major factor for the win this weekend.
His only top-five finish at Charlotte came in his track debut, but Reed Sorenson showed signs last season of regaining his form at the track. He finished eighth and seventh in his two starts, making him one of the top series regulars in both events. Sorenson has been in the thick of the title fight all season, giving him even more value this weekend.
His last Nationwide start at Charlotte came in 2005, but Elliott Sadler has proven this season that he can run consistently in the top five. Even in his limited experience at the track in the series, he has managed to finish as high as second. Sadler seems a likely candidate to win at least one race this year, and as well as he is running, it could happen at any week.
Big Names to Avoid
Despite all the momentum from his win last weekend, there are some serious question marks about Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Charlotte. In three career starts, he has compiled a dismal 31.3 average finish. Stenhouse Jr. has finished 40th in two of those three starts.
In seven starts at Charlotte, Steve Wallace has yet to record a single top-15 finish, and he has finished better than 20th only once. Despite a ton of support from his father’s race team, Wallace just can’t seem to find any sort of sustained success, especially at the intermediate ovals.
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Odds to win the 2011 Top Gear 300 – Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Carolina – Saturday, May 28, 2011
Kyle Busch 9/5
Carl Edwards 3/1
Joey Logano 6/1
Kevin Harvick 6/1
Brad Keselowski 8/1
Ricky Stenhouse 8/1
Kasey Kahne 10/1
Reed Sorenson 15/1
Trevor Bayne 20/1
Elliot Sadler 20/1
Aric Almirola 25/1
Justin Algaier 25/1
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