When the green flag waves for Sunday’s Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, as postseason race 8-of-10, Jimmie Johnson will have a commanding 183-point lead and will be well on his way at making history by joining Cale Yarborough as NASCAR's only other driver to ever three-peat as Cup champion.
Johnson has established a large enough point's lead there's room for some ''big picture racing'' in the final three races in the 2008 Chase for the Sprint Cup. But with second-place Greg Biffle only 2 points behind Edwards and the Bif having three-career Homestead (last race of the Chase) victories, don't expect Johnson to race ultra conservative. Though, don't expect for him to push the envelope in exchange for a win, either.
NASCAR wagering fans know Johnson is capable of putting the No. 48 into Victory Lane on any given day, at any given track. At this point, however, top-5's and-or top-10 finishes during the final three races would have Johnson raising the Cup. Not needing victories to three-peat opens the door for unlikely winners to take the checkers, and the online NASCAR betting family is aware that could lead to heftier payouts.
But in this case, looking for a valuable dark horse is a mistake, and my reasoning and selection to win Sunday’s Dickies 500 is pretty straight forward with a common online sports betting approach. I'm using the ''must win'' approach for this one. Realistically, there's just two drivers that can catch Johnson—Edwards and Biffle—and in doing so, not only do they need first or second-place runs in all three remaining races, they need help from Johnson in the way of a couple leader mishaps. It's not likely he'll have a meltdown and give the Cup away, because it's already in his back pocket, but there's money to be made here on the next few races.
As mentioned earlier, Johnson doesn't need victories to complete the three-peat, but to have a shot Edwards and Biffle do. Among the duo trying to catch Johnson, BetUS NASCAR odds give the Bif a slight edge to do so priced at +700 and Edwards +800. Remember, there's only a 2-point margin separating second-place Edwards and third-place Biffle. Certainly enough sports betting value worth investing a few coins on one or both. In order for Edwards to produce the would be unprecedented comeback, he'll need to outscore Johnson by 61 points per race, the difference between first and 13th. It's virtually the same scenario for Biffle.
Of course, Johnson would love to Texas Two-Step his way right into Victory Lane, dancing his way that much closer to clinching his third consecutive Cup championship. But if he gambles and loses on Sunday, he could let Edwards and Biffle right back into the Chase. He can't afford that with the two drivers behind still in the lead draft, so I expect Johnson to aim for a top-5 finish at best. Which in my opinion makes him a bad investment to win as oddsmakers second betting choice at +400, allowing me to feel good about tossing NASCAR's strongest driver out as a selection.
With Johnson erased as my online NASCAR wagering pick, we're not going to break the bank with my Texas bet, because I'm riding with Cousin Carl as the race odds on favorite priced at +300. But hey, what other sport can you get that much betting value on a favorite?
Edwards' approach this weekend will be no different than the one he used last weekend to win at Atlanta, where he ran every lap as though it were his last. Atlanta and Texas are similar, and we all saw how strong Edwards ran last weekend, so I see no reason why he can't post back-to-back wins while pulling off the 2008 Texas sweep.
Edwards has two career Texas wins and the only driver with multiple victories there. He's the king of intermediate tracks so expect a strong performance on the 1.5 miler in a must win race. Three of his seven 2008 wins has come on intermediate tracks, including his spring win at Texas when he dominated with a race-high 123 laps led. The other victory there came in 2005.
Free NASCAR Picks: Carl Edwards +300 to win Sunday’s Dickies 500 (3:45pm EST)