The Sprint Cup Series heads to the Lone Star State, where the next stop on the NASCAR betting circuit is Texas Motor Speedway. Here’s a look at the oddsmakers’ favorites to run up front at this Saturday’s Samsung Mobile 500:
Hamlin was hoping the familiar grooves of Martinsville could kickstart his season. However, the No. 11 team couldn’t get the result they wanted last weekend, dropping from fifth to 12th. Hamlin, who currently sits in 19th place in the points, is still wet behind the ears compared to some of the other drivers, and confidence could become an issue. He’s been great at Texas in his short Sprint Cup career, winning the last two races on the 1.5-mile course and placing inside the Top 10 in seven of his 11 career starts there.
Kenseth is another driver with a solid resume at Fort Worth. In his 16 career starts at Texas, Kenseth has placed inside the Top 10 11 times, including a victory back in 2002. Last season, the No. 17 car finished second at the AAA Texas 500 in the fall, following a 20th-place showing at the Samsung Mobile 500 in the spring. Kenseth was very impressive in last weekend’s race at Martinsville, overcoming a drive-through penalty to claim a sixth-place finish – his third straight Top-6 showing.
The defending Sprint Cup champ is hot under the collar after he was hit with a pit-speed penalty at Martinsville last Sunday. Johnson blasted NASCAR, saying that speeds should be posted in the pit area, but later apologized for his emotional outburst. That penalty left the No. 48 car to finish in 11th, but it did pick up some points for leading 65 laps. Johnson sits third in the standings heading into Texas, where he’s taken one checkered flag and boasts an average finish of 10.6. Last season, J.J. rolled to a second-place showing in the spring race at Fort Worth.
Somehow, one of NASCAR’s biggest personalities has remained relatively quiet to start the 2011 Sprint Cup season. Stewart is sitting 11th in the points after a dismal day at Martinsville last weekend. Smoke has shown he still has the chops to run up front, placing second at the Kobalt Tools 400 last month, and his past success at Texas shouldn’t be forgotten. Stewart has yet to win at Forth Worth, but has nine Top-10 performances in 17 career starts and an average finish of 13.9. Last season, the driver/owner was on the pole for the Samsung Mobile 500, but suffered an accident that dropped him to 32. Don’t think for a second that Stewart isn’t out for redemption this Saturday.