NASCAR Betting: 5-Hour Energy 500 Preview

By: Adam Markowitz | Thursday, June 9, 2011

The boys of NASCAR head up to the Poconos this weekend for the 5-Hour Energy 500 betting festivities. Pocono Raceway is one of the most interesting tracks on the NASCAR betting circuit, as the track is a 2 ½-mile tri-oval instead of a typical standard oval track.

The results can be unpredictable, but here at Don Best, we're going to work out the best possibilities for you to bet on.

The 14th race of the Sprint Cup season drops the green flag at 10:18 a.m. (PT) on Sunday, June 12, and the telecast can be seen nationally on TNT.

The "Tricky Triangle" has always been a great place for Tony Stewart. Sure, it hasn't been the greatest year in the world for the driver of the No. 14 Chevy, as he is only in eighth place in the Sprint Cup standings. However, he definitely has the ability to do some real damage here.

Stewart has finished in the Top 10 nine times in his last 10 races at Pocono, and he does have the win here in 2009. It was his first as an owner. We think that getting +950 NASCAR odds to win the 5-Hour Energy 500 is a great price on Stewart despite the fact that he only has one Top 5 finish this year.

The man of the hour that is the favorite to take down this title, Denny Hamlin (+450). It's definitely an interesting and intriguing price on a driver that has no wins and just two Top 5 finishes this season. Hamlin only ranks No. 11 in points.

However, he is the defending champ here at Pocono Raceway, and has four wins among his 10 career races at this track.  Hamlin also has two poles, seven Top 5's and eight Top 10's at Pocono.

His average finishing position has been 8.2, and his average starting position has been 6.1, the best at any track in his career.

Where are all of the usual suspects then? Jimmie Johnson is a +650 second choice on the board, while runaway Sprint Cup standings leader Carl Edwards is +750 on the Sprint Cup lines. The man with the most wins this season, Kevin Harvick, is at +1150.

These three drivers only have two wins at the first race of the year at the "Tricky Triangle" between them in their careers. Johnson took the checkered flag in this race in 2004. Edwards went to Victory Lane the very next season. Since that point, Hamlin has won twice (2006 and 2010), and the other winners were Stewart (2009), Jeff Gordon (2008) and Kasey Kahne (2008).

Calculating fuel is going to be an issue of concern for the boys on pit row. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is riding a tremendous race losing streak that dates back to 2008, is coming off that embarrassing performance at the Coca-Cola 600 in which he ran out of gas on the final lap. You can bet that he will have the pit crew under the most scrutiny on Sunday if fuel consumption comes into play.

There is a 60 percent chance of rain in the forecast for Sunday. Temperatures should be in the mid-70s.

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