If you’re a NASCAR race betting enthusiast that is looking to cash in on yet another exciting event as the 2014 season steamrolls toward its annual Sprint Cup Chase, then you should be excited about Sunday’s Cheez-It 355. Click here for full NASCAR odds.
Watkins Glen is the easier of the two road courses. The turns are not as tight as they are at Sonoma, and the course has much more speed. The two things that teams must overcome this week are wheel hop and issues with their brakes. Teams that can control the balance of their cars will run up front.
- What: 90 laps or 220.5 miles
- Where: Watkins Glen International, a 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
- When: 1 p.m. Sunday
- TV: ESPN
- Radio: Motor Racing Network
- Last year’s winner: Kyle Busch
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 7, 2014
NASCAR Odds to win Cheez-It 355 at Watkins-Glen
- Marcos Ambrose 5-1
- Kyle Busch 7-1
- Brad Keselowski 7-1
- Kevin Harvick 8-1
- Clint Bowyer 10-1
- Jimmie Johnson 10-1
- Jeff Gordon 10-1
- Tony Stewart 12-1
- Joey Logano 12-1
- Kurt Busch 12-1
- Carl Edwards 25-1
- Kasey Khane 30-1
- Martin Truex Jr. 50-1
- Greg Biffle 60-1
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 60-1
- Denny Hamlin 60-1
- Casey Mears 100-1
- Aric Almirola 100-1
- Austin Dillon 100-1
- Danica Patrick 100-1
- Boris Said 100-1
- Field 200-1
The Cheez-It 355 is NASCAR’s 22nd race on the 2014 schedule this season, but only the second road course race on the docket.
So…why is veteran Marc Ambrose the favorite in this event?
Because he owns it…or should I say, because Ambrose is as close to a ‘lock’ to win this event as it gets in auto racing.
Ambrose has only two career NASCAR Sprint Cup wins, but they have both come at this event with the Australia native bringing home the bacon in 2011 and 2012. While the 37-year-old Richard Petty Motorsports driver finished in 31st place in last year’s Cheez-It 355, even the other NASCAR drivers recognize Ambrose’s fantastic road course skills.
Adding to this year’s drama is the fact that Ambrose will also have some added incentive to get back in the winner’s circle as he tries to reach the Sprint Cup Chase for the first time in his five years on the Sprint Cup circuit.
Ambrose is currently too far back in the standings to make the 16-driver Chase field on points (he’s 49 points behind the current cutoff), unless he wins this event that is.
"The first thing I thought about was, ‘I hope I win before Watkins Glen so I can take some pressure off it,’ " Ambrose said earlier this week. "This week is building up to be one of those weeks where the expectations are high."
Prior to his first win at this event in 2011, Ambrose finished third or better in his first three starts on the track. Despite his mediocre finish in last year’s race Ambrose was actually dominating at one point as he led 51 of the first 61 laps until being put back in the pack thanks to an untimely caution. After that caution, Ambrose re-started in 12th place – before getting caught up in a wreck with just five laps remaining.
Richard Petty Motorsports already has Aric Almirola in the Chase so they’re going all out in an effort to get Ambrose – and their second car – in the coveted Chase.
"We want to give Marcos the best shot he can to win there," Almirola said. "As small of an underdog team as we are, to have the possibility of getting both our cars in the Chase is phenomenal. That is the priority on our list right now."
For his part, Ambrose said he doesn’t feel a lot of pressure to win this event.
"It’s funny to say, ‘This week is your better week to win, are you going to try harder?’ " Ambrose said. "That’s rubbish, because I try my best every week. It’s just Watkins Glen has been a good place for me, and it’s really in my niche. Road racing is what I grew up doing."
Outside of Ambrose, Brad Keselowski looks like a great driver to back at this event after finishing third in each of the last three races at Watkins-Glen.
Veteran Kyle Busch is also one of the top favorites after winning last year’s Cheez-It 355 and another veteran, Kevin Harvick, the 2006 winner at this event, has a fantastic 13.1 career average finish at the Glen.
However, it should be noted that Harvick hasn’t had a top-five finish here since winning it all eight years ago.
The driver that is offering the best odds, for a legitimate contender is Carl Edwards. At a whopping 25-to-1, Edwards has never won at Watkins Glen, but he did nab his first road course win in June at Sonoma. In nine Watkins Glen starts, Edward has an average finish of 8.8, including last season’s fourth-place finish.
Last but not least, I think NASCAR betting enthusiasts should look long and hard at backing former NASCAR poster boy Jeff Gordon.
Driving his famed No. 24 car, Gordon won this event three straight years from 1997-1997 and before winning two more in 1999 and 2001. However, over his last dozen races at Watkins-Glen, Gordon has not been able to record a Top Five finish.
Last but certainly not least, I think polarizing veteran Tony ‘Smoke’ Stewart has a shot at bringing home the hardware here. The five-time Cheez-It 355 winner has had a tough season, but he may just be overdue to win this road course event after last finding himself in the winner’s circle in 2009.
My Projected Order of Finish For NASCAR’s Cheez-It 355
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Marc Ambrose is truly deserving of his odds as the favorite at this event. While it’s admittedly, very hard to predict winner’s in any racing event, I like the fact that Ambrose has a lot riding on the line in this event – and I believe he’ll come through with the huge win.
I’m going with Ambrose to finish first, followed by Brad Keselowski (again), Jeff Gordon and a desperate Tony Stewart.