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Monster may prove True-x

May 27, 2008 7:00 PM

Finish Line by Micah Roberts |

Roberts Top 5 At Dover
1. #20 Tony Stewart 11-1
2. #16 Greg Biffle 11-1
3. #18 Kyle Busch 6-1
4. #9 Kasey Kahne 12-1
5. #48 Jimmie Johnson 6-1
TOP 10s
55 of 90

This Sunday, on the first day of June, the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers will attempt to tackle the Monster Mile of Dover. It’s no easy task either.

The concrete mile track, with 24 degrees of banking in each of the turns, has proved to be difficult for many. Conversely, there are a few drivers who have really found their niche on the track and they’ll again be the drivers to focus on.

It may come as no surprise that the favorites to win this week based on their current reign and past Dover history is Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson. The odds won’t be too great on those three and in all probability one of them will win the race.

What we want to do this week is find a few good reasons to justify taking a chance on some legitimate long shots, taking a page from last season’s first race at Dover where the top three cars during the race all came in with odds of 20-1 or higher.

Martin Truex Jr won that race leading the most laps and paid out at a closing price of 40-1. Ryan Newman led the second most laps and finished second. Newman closed out with a 20-1 price. The third place car was Carl Edwards who would have paid out at 24-1.

Subsequently, Edwards went on to win the fall race but paid out at odds of only 10-1, because the cat was out of the bag at that point. Everyone knew all three of those drivers were going to be good again, therefore the market price was considerably lower than in the spring race.

It’s possible that the same equation will take place this year and that is why identifying the candidates early, before they attempt one practice session, could present a great opportunity for high returns. Edwards, Busch, and Johnson will be formidable opponents, but the equalizer for the possibilities lies with the track.

Last season was the first for using the Car of Tomorrow. It was almost assumed by all that the Hendrick COT program that was abusing the rest of NASCAR would continue to do the same at Dover. After all, Hendrick drivers had won all five COT races up to that point.

The Fords only had three top 5 finishes in those five races and the Dodges had only come with two. Again, the big difference was the track. It was configured like no other track and gave several teams a chance to catch up to Hendrick.

This season has been a little different because the teams are running at both Superspeedway plate races and the high banked 1½-to 2-mile tracks. Some of the weight placement philosophy that has been successful for those teams doing well on the 1½-mile tracks may benefit them.

But, it won’t be the exact mix.

In years past, Johnson and Newman had been exceptional on those type of tracks, while posting three Dover victories apiece during their dominating runs. Greg Biffle was in a similar position in 2005 when he won six times with victories that included California, Texas, Michigan, Miami, and of course Dover.

It would appear using that formula that after Kasey Kahne’s recent success the last two weeks at Charlotte that he could be a nice candidate. His odds will surely be in the 12-1 range, but his team obviously found something in their setup that is likely to carry over at a few more tracks this season.

Carl Edwards, off his success at California, Las Vegas, and Texas, is a prime candidate. However, it’s hard to go for the favorite at 5-1. The same can be said for Kyle Busch at 6-1 and owning a win at Atlanta.

In the mid-price range, good cases could be made for both Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr. Martin has won at Dover four times in his career and finished in the top 10 in both races last season. Both drivers can be found in the 18-1 range.

A driver who can fetch odds just a bit higher is Jeff Burton who will be in the 30-1 range. All this guy does is finish well. He is the model of consistency, but to win, you may need for some strange things to happen like at Bristol.

Two drivers that kind of fit the criteria we’re looking for, but haven’t cashed in yet are Tony Stewart and Biffle. Both are former winners on the track and have debatably been the fastest cars on the track the last couple of weeks. Stewart has multiple Cup wins at Dover and even sat on the pole there during his Indy racing days.

Micah Roberts is a Race and Sports Director with Station Casinos who has contributed to Gaming Today for the last 11 years.