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Kyle pick for Cup, but wha's with Tony?

Jul 15, 2008 7:02 PM

Finish Line by Micah Roberts | With seven races to go on the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, it’s a good time to start searching for season championship odds to win.

Many people come into the season with an opinion based against what the bookmaker thinks and then wager accordingly. By now, most books have adjusted their odds considerably based on what has happened over the course of the first half of the season along with what supply and demand has dictated.

Sometimes the odds on the season futures are simply by action with absolutely no opinion put into it. The first bookmakers always preached booking only to the money and leaving the opinion to the guys trying to beat the juice. In futures, the book should always win to the index with the fair theoretic hold from 28 to 38 percent. That’s based considering there really are only five drivers outside the Top 12 with a chance of making the Chase.

Kyle Busch is the resounding 2-1 favorite because of opinion, facts, and demand. He has proved capable of winning on all types of tracks. This puts him in an elite class during the Chase that is filled with every type of track except a road course. The one downfall for Busch down the stretch is that he doesn’t know how to let up.

Busch goes for it all the time and in a 10-race format that essentially preaches consistency and finishing races. He has already experienced some bad luck and has been immune to any type of slump. Maybe this is his year to shine and join his brother Kurt as a season champion.

Another driver that has traditionally fared well in the last 10 races is Tony Stewart. Do you think because Stewart is leaving Joe Gibbs after the season that he’ll get the Toyota Ponypower parts rather than the Toyota horsepower parts?

I can’t see a man of Gibbs stature doing that to the entire team even though he’s not happy about releasing Stewart a year early. However, Gibbs has miraculously revived a couple cars in his stable that were on their deathbed.

Remember when Jason Leffler drove the No. 11 car to the worst finish in Gibbs history? The very next year a rookie named Denny Hamlin swept Pocono in that car. Hamlin’s good, but Leffler isn’t that bad.

How about J.J. Yeley’s plight the last few years in the No. 18 car? That car was almost as bad as Leffler’s. Kyle Busch comes along and is now King of the series.

Granted, Gibbs became more involved and Toyota came on board last season. But, do you really want Stewart snooping around the garage and giving him a shot at stealing stuff for his team that he’s going to own 50 percent of? He may have something in his clause that forbids him from that kind of thing, but how can they prove it?

In most major businesses, if an important part of an organization says they are giving notice and ask for a release, and the person in charge of the requestor grants the request, the next action is always, "Forget the notice, Go ahead and leave today." You can’t have someone who will be your competitor next year taking notes in your garage and give him a better chance at winning.

The only reason I could see Gibbs allow Stewart to stay is financial. Stewart has a chance to win race and season purses that include bonuses to the entire No. 20 staff. Not to say that someone like Leffler couldn’t jump in and do well in Stewart’s car, but morale would likely be down in the garage and pit road.

There also is the expectation of the sponsor, Home Depot. Do they deserve to get shoved further down in the standings and home improvement wars? Keep a close eye on Stewart over the next few weeks and see what happens.

Next week: The Brickyard 400.

Micah Roberts is a Race & Sports Director at Station Casinos and has been contributing to GamingToday for the last 11 years.