Look out Nextel Cup series!

Jul 31, 2007 6:40 AM

Tony the Tiger was a bear in hibernation for the first 18 races of the season, but has awoken with a lion’s roar in the first two races of the second half. Tony Stewart won at Chicago to kick off the second half three weeks ago. Last week he made it two wins in a row with the great performance on his home state track at the Brickyard.

All of a sudden Stewart is sitting fifth in points, only 452 behind leader Jeff Gordon. Now is the perfect time to get value on Stewart to win the 2007 title. Because Gordon has been so good all season, he has made it almost a foregone conclusion he’ll win it all. Yet some books still have Stewart with odds of 6/1 or higher based on how poor his luck was just three weeks ago.

Remember, it’s not about the first 26 races, but the last 10. Last season Stewart got himself in too deep to make the Chase, but went on to win three races during that stretch. If you can find value on championship odds involving Stewart at 6/1 or higher, take it. When the chase comes around, Gordon will find his 371 point lead over second place completely gone.

This week’s race takes us back to Pocono, a place they just ran at June 10. Jeff Gordon won in a rain shortened event. The same wagering strategy that led you into Indy last week should be used.

This difference this week is that we now have two races of data to look at. We can add all the results from Indy last week into the melting pot with the data from June’s Pocono race. We use the two tracks together because both are similar based on the tight flat turns and long drag race straights.

Stewart was strong at Indy with a win and ran fifth at Pocono earlier this year. Jeff Gordon won at Pocono and ran third at Indy. Kevin Harvick ran 11 at Pocono and finished seventh at Indy. Several other cars had great practices and great runs during each race, but found poor luck on their side with wrecks.

Stewart has the momentum on his side. He has only one win at Pocono which came in 2003. The last driver to win Pocono and the Brickyard in back to back weeks was Bill Elliott in 2002. Gordon has an edge on his side because Pocono has been very favorable to those attempting a sweep in the last 10 years. Denny Hamlin swept last season, Jimmie Johnson did it in 2004, and Bobby Labonte in 1999.

The wild card of the bunch is Johnson, who didn’t run very well at Indy. He was, however, awesome on paper at Pocono. Johnson hasn’t won since May 6 at Richmond. You never want to bet on a slumping team in any sport, opting to side with who’s hot — like Stewart or Gordon.

Yet, I have a feeling that Johnson is going to be the driver to beat this week.

ROBERTS Top 5

BRICKYARD

1.

#48

Jimmie Johnson

7/1

2.

#20

Tony Stewart

7/1

3.

#24

Jeff Gordon

7/1

4.

#11

Denny Hamlin

8/1

5.

#31

Jeff Burton

17/1

EVENTS

WINS

TOP 10s

24

14

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