NASCAR Betting:  Can past performances predict a winner?

The Kobalt Tools 500, which goes off this Sunday at 1 PM ET in Atlanta, is not unlike many of the races on the Sprint Cup circuit in that it has gone by many names over the years, following the almighty sponsorship dollar. The race was fist run in 1960, and was known as the Atlanta 500, and maintained that name through 1980. Since then, it has had eleven different names, and Kobalt Tools has been the title sponsor since 2007.

Odds To Win Kobalt Tools 500 - March 7 - Atlanta (Top 12)

  • Jimmie Johnson +400
  • Jeff Gordon +800
  • Mark Martin +800
  • Kyle Busch +1000
  • Clint Bowyer +1200
  • Jeff Burton +1200
  • Kevin Harvick +1200
  • Kurt Busch +1200
  • Carl Edwards +1500
  • Denny Hamlin +1500
  • Greg Biffle +1500
  • Juan Pablo Montoya +1500
  • Tony Stewart +1500

No one has ever done better in Sprint (or Winston) Cup races in Atlanta than Dale Earnhardt Sr., who had nine wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and still holds the race record of 163.633 miles an hour. His son, Dale Jr., who made a comeback of sorts to place second at the Daytona 500 this year, hasn't done too badly at AMS either. Junior, who is a 30/1 shot in the Nascar betting odds for the Kobalt Tools 500 this Sunday, won the Golden Corral 500 in 2004 with a speed of 158.679 mph, which was the fastest since his father back in 1996.

At last year's Kobalt Tools 500, Kurt Busch led 234 laps en rote to his victory, but it was hard-earned, as he had to pass Carl Edwards with just two laps to go in a race that had to be extended to 508.2 miles because of a green-white-checker finish. His brother Kyle had won at Las Vegas the week before and in Atlanta the year before. Kurt is +1200 in the NASCAR betting to repeat on Sunday, while Kyle is posted at +1000.

In September of last year, at the other Sprint Cup event at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS), the Pep Boys Auto 500, the race belonged to Kasey Kahne, who had also won the Golden Corral 500 at AMS in 2006. Kahne goes off at the relatively high price of +1800 in NASCAR betting for Sunday. He can use a strong showing in Atlanta, as he is currently 23rd in the Sprint Cup points race. Clint Bowyer, who is +1200 to win on Sunday, is right in the thick of things, and in second in the overall standings. He has started eight times in Sprint Cup action at AMS, and has finished in sixth place four times.

Speaking of sixth, that's where Denny Hamlin (+1500 on Sunday) wound up in last year's Pep Boys Auto 500. He led the race for a total of 23 laps, and was able to clinch his spot in the Chase for the Cup with that result.

Last year's runner-up, Jeff Gordon, who is +800 to win on Sunday, has not only posted five straight top-ten finishes on this track, but has also won both in the spring and fall at AMS. Gordon captured the checkered flag at the Purolator 500 in 1995, the NAPA 500 (Fall) in 1998, the Cracker Barrel 500 in 1999, and the Bass Pro Shop MBNA 500 (Fall) in 2003.

Gordon's teammate, Jimmie Johnson, who goes off, not unexpectedly, as the +400 favorite, has won two Sprint Cup races in a row, and he has also exhibited great success at the AMS track. Johnson had a sweep of the two Cup events in 2007, winning the Kobalt Tools 500 in March and then the Pep Boys Auto 500 in September. In 17 Atlanta starts, he has three wins and eleven top tens.

Kevin Harvick, the current Sprint Cup points leader, is listed at +1200 for the race, and he has also won in Atlanta, capturing the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 in 2001, and he also won the Nationwide Series event there last year. Mark Martin (+800 to win Sunday) won the fall Cup race in Atlanta in 1991 and 1994, and has made 48 starts at this race track, finishing in the top ten no less than 23 times.

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