Pepsi 500 Preview and Pick – 2009

Race: Pepsi 500
Date: Sunday October 11th, 2009
Track: Auto Club Speedway
Time: 2:30 pm ET
Channel: ABC

Bet the Pepsi 500 using your Visa card at Bodog Sportsbook.

This weekend, we are headed to Fontana for an awesome super speedway race. After last weekend at Kansas, Tony Stewart is going to be looking to add another big track to his wins for the year. He seems like the Kyle Busch from years past or even the Jimmie Johnson in some ways. To see Tony come out in his first year as owner-driver and dominate in his fashion is unbelievable. I think that I was by far one of the most anti-Tony Stewart people in the NASCAR worlduntil this year. Tony has matured beyond belief and really proven that he’s more than a hot-head. Maybe Kyle should take some notes.

Fontana is going to be a good challenge for Tony. It’s a 2-mile D-shaped oval with 14 degree banking in the turns and 11 degree banking on the frontstretch. The backstretch boasts a mild 3 degrees. This track is a fun track for the drivers to gain a lot of speed and push into the corners and haul butt down the straights. I mean, the frontstretch is 3100 feet and the backstretch is nothing to sneeze at with 2500 feet.

Thinking about past winners here, it’s not too hard to predict who should do well here. This is almost a sort of home-track for Jeff Gordon. He’s always been consistently good here. But with only 3 wins, the latest which was in 2004, Gordon needs to kick it up a notch if he’s going to charge to the front and get those points. The previous winner at this track was Matt Kenseth here in February. That was about the only good thing that happened for Kenseth so far this year. He’s been fighting an uphill battle ever since, as have his Roush teammates. Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle also have wins, but certainly nothing recent or to be stoked about. Edwards had a top 10 but finishing 10th last weekend at Kansas, but that’s as good as we’ve seen him compete in several weeks. Biffle has also had his share of struggles throughout the last few months.

To pick a winner here, I’m going with the obvious. Jimmie Johnson should dominate the race and be in victory lane when it’s all said and done. Teammates Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin are also competitors, but I’m looking for them to have strong top 5 runs. The Hendrick teams should pretty well dominate the top 5. Jr. will be the straggler again this week, but look for him to have a consistent run. He does better on these types of tracks and should be able to stay out of trouble with luck on his side.

My Pick: Jimmie Johnson

Here’s a look at the current top 12 in the points:

1. Mark Martin
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Juan Montoya
4. Tony Stewart
5. Kurt Busch
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Greg Biffle
9. Ryan Newman
10. Carl Edwards
11. Kasey Kahne
12. Brian Vickers

It’s easy to see how quickly these points can change. Just a few weeks ago, Gordon was floating back in 11th. He’s not up to 7th. Johnson is a mere 18 points out of the lead, with Montoya close behind at 51 points back.

For Mark Martin, this has been a dream season, which explains why he’s signed an extension with Hendrick. He leads the points standings and is looking to finally get that elusive championship that’s he’s been missing for so many years. And, can I add, who could hate to see Mark Martin win a championship? He’s by far the most gracious man in Cup.

As far as the other guys go, Edwards, Kahne, and Vickers have some work to do to keep their championship dreams alive. We’re closing out the season. They’ve been consistent, but the problem is they’ve been consistently in the middle or back of the pack. They need to get out front and get some wins if they have any hope still alive. The same goes for Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle. Stay tuned this weekend and see if these guys are going to get rougher and tougher as the laps wind down in the 2009 season.

Many people think that Nascar betting consists of trying to pick the winner to win the race, which is really a long shot to pick considering how many drivers there are in a typical Nascar race. That’s not your only option though. You can actually bet driver vs. driver matchups which makes it a 50/50 proposition..