Coming into Michigan, Ryan Newman and Bill Elliott are surging at proportions that the rest of the field cannot keep up with over the last seven races.
No one has more Winston Cup points than Newman (10-1) or more wins than Elliott (8-1). Despite a calculated poor performance on the road course last week by Elliott, the component that holds the most value at Michigan is what he did at Pocono and the Brickyard, which were two easy wins.
That correlation between Pocono and the Brickyard has been key over the last five seasons. The correlation is based simply on horsepower and who currently has the most. 2000 was the only year in the trend that didn’t produce multi-track winners between the three.
Tony Stewart (8-1) and Rusty Wallace (14-1) won in those two races and Wallace nearly made the five-year trend perfect by finishing a narrow second to Bobby Labonte (25/1) in the 2000 Brickyard.
The likes of Jeff Gordon(8/1), Dale Jarrett (8/1), and Labonte have made the correlation simple. The trouble with 2002 is that anything and everything goes. This may be the toughest year in the history of NASCAR wagering to pick a winner.
Several Las Vegas books are reporting a rise in handle on driver matchups specifically because of the current state of parity in Winston Cup racing.
"It’s obvious you aren’t going to see a double digit win season or close to it out of anyone," says Mandalay Bay’s Hugh Citron, "The value in these match-ups is taking the plus money.
"Looking realistically at it, the oddsmakers that release these match-ups do a good job in creating a matchup that should have great two way action based on the similarities of the two drivers," Citron said. "But then you’ll see a few steam to one side and it becomes apparent that there is a definite system that many are following."
That system usually revolves around qualifying. In a research done last season on one betting shops’ match-ups, it was found that 61 percent of the winners in matchups were found by just blindly picking all the drivers that qualified higher than the other. That statistic goes even farther up when equating only road courses and short tracks.
"The parity involved in today’s NASCAR has definitely driven our handle up," says the Imperial Palace’s Jay Kornegay. "Particularly in the last four weeks, we have seen a significant increase in our normal weekly matchups. The value trend by taking the plus money has some merit, but like all sports, there are some highs and lows involved for the house and player."
When taking a look at some of the major posting sites on-line, you’ll see several bettors post their picks and year to date records. Several serious NASCAR bettors are in the minus on odds to win unit plays, but are doing very well on qualifying and race match-ups.
"It has almost come to the point like baseball with some of the matchups," says Boulder Station’s Kelly Airgood. "The sharper guys will play the plusses but show no hesitation on laying —150 or —160 if they feel it’s a bad match-up."
Newman is in the midst of a streak where he has finished in the Top 5 in five consecutive races. In the previous race held at Michigan two months ago, Newman finished an impressive third.
At no time of any season has a driver come on as strong out of seemingly no where to be as good and on top of the circuit as Bill Elliott has. Elliott has won seven times at Michigan.
TOP 5 AT MICHIGAN
1) #12 Ryan Newman (10/1)
2) #9 Bill Elliott (8/1)
3) #20 Tony Stewart (8/1)
4) #97 Kurt Busch (10/1)
5) #29 Kevin Harvick (20/