There are only two more races in the 2013 Sprint Cup season.
While fans let that sink in, there are still several unanswered questions for fans, teams and drivers. Judging by what oddsmakers think, we may not get many answers this weekend.
Hedging, Hedging and More Hedging
To the surprise of nobody, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are favored. Both are 4/1 which is close to where both drivers have been for the last three months.
Each contender has a far different history at Phoenix. Johnson has the highest average finish among active drivers over the last five years. Mind you, he wrecked here in that stretch.
Kesneth’s record is underwhelming. Thirteen active drives, Juan Pablo Montoya among them, have done better than Kenseth at Phoenix since 2009. Kenseth has led a whopping 58 laps during that stretch.
There’s no reason Kenseth should be 4/1, except that we’ve said this about Kenseth at other tracks where he has struggled and then watched him win. He’ll need that kind of fortune Sunday.
Normally, a driver uses this year’s Chase to springboard into 2013. Who is that driver this year? Brad Keselowski won a race but hasn’t wowed anyone. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has shown great consistency but hasn’t won.
The answer might be Denny Hamlin. That Denny Hamlin who may have had the worst 2013 of any driver in NASCAR. Hamlin is 10/1 and had great numbers last week. The results simply haven’t been there, but clearly those in the know seem to think Hamlin might be due for a rebound. He only has two more attempts for that rebound this year.
There are 11 drivers at 75/1 or worse. Jamie McMurray has a win this year. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. works for Roush Fenway Racing. Elliott Sadler’s team has finished well. Paul Menard and Jeff Burton work for Richard Childress Racing. All are 75/1 or worse. Virtual afterthoughts. that’s more than 25 percent of the starting field and doesn’t include those who start and park.
NASCAR has two contenders, 11 pretenders and 13 people trying to use 2013 as a springboard for 2014. Let’s see who leaps and who falls flat on Sunday.