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Chase for the Cup starts Sunday in Chicago
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 9/15/2013  at  2:45:00 AM
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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Sunday, September 15 – 2:00 p.m. EDT
Chicagoland Speedway – Joliet, IL

The Chase for the Cup is finally here as 12 drivers being a 10-race circuit to determine this year’s points champion. The Chase opens in Chicago on Sunday, marking the first daytime race in four weeks. Chicagoland Speedway is an intermediate track that was completed in 2000. Its configuration is a 1˝-mile tri-oval shaped track with 18-degree banking on the turns, 11-degree banking on the 2,400-foot frontstretch and five-degree banking on the backstretch, which measures 1,700 feet. Brad Keselowski is the defending champion of this race.

Odds to Win Race

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Jimmie Johnson9-to-2
Matt Kenseth6-to-1
Kasey Kahne7-to-1
Kyle Busch7-to-1
Carl Edwards10-to-1
Kevin Harvick10-to-1
Brad Keselowski12-to-1
Martin Truex Jr.15-to-1
Joey Logano15-to-1
Jeff Gordon15-to-1
Kurt Busch15-to-1
Dale Earnhardt Jr.15-to-1
Clint Bowyer15-to-1
Greg Biffle20-to-1
Denny Hamlin20-to-1
Ryan Newman25-to-1
Brian Vickers30-to-1
Jamie McMurray50-to-1
Juan Montoya75-to-1
Mark Martin75-to-1
Danica Patrick100-to-1
Paul Menard100-to-1
A.J. Allmendinger100-to-1
Jeff Burton100-to-1
Aric Almirola100-to-1
Marcos Ambrose100-to-1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.100-to-1
FIELD (Any other driver)100-to-1

Drivers to Watch

Clint Bowyer (15/1) - In seven career races at Chicago, Bowyer has finished outside the top-10 only once, back in 2008 (22nd place). He's also raced very well on other 1.5-mile tracks recently, finishing 5th at Kansas, 8th at Charlotte and 3rd and Kentucky before engine failure ended his day in Atlanta in a race he led for 48 laps. Bowyer has yet to taste victory in 2013, but with a hefty eight top-5 finishes this season, he’s our pick to finally take home the checkered flag on Sunday.

Matt Kenseth (6/1) - The 1.5-mile track specialist has won two of the past four races at this distance, taking the checkered flag both in Kansas and Kentucky as part of his five wins in 2013. Kenseth has yet to win in 12 starts at Chicagoland, but he does have four top-7 finishes including two runner-ups at this track. He's also put himself in great starting position in the past two races at this venue, winning a pole and starting from the No. 3 spot which propelled him to a combined 48 laps led. The payoff isn't too favorable, but Kenseth is still worthy of a good-sized wager for Sunday's race.

Ryan Newman (25/1) - Newman may be fortunate to join the Chase for the Cup group, but he is determined to show he belongs among these dozen drivers. Not only has he placed eighth or better in three of his past four starts at this track, but Newman tested at Chicagoland earlier this year. He's also been strong in the past four 1.5-mile tracks with an average finish of 9.8, most recently coming in fifth place in Atlanta. This was part of his four top-5's in his past seven starts. At 25-to-1, Newman represents the best betting value on the board here.

Brad Keselowski (12/1) - He may not be able to defend his points title, but Keselowski has a great chance to repeat his Chicagoland victory on Sunday. In addition to that win, he also placed fifth at Chicagoland Speedway in 2011. And although he has finished poorly in his past three races (27.3 average finish), taking himself out of Chase contention, Keselowski has qualified pretty well lately with top-12 starts in seven of his past eight races. With no more pressure to worry about his place in the standings, the No. 2 car has no reason to play it safe and should be near the front of the pack all day on Sunday. With double-digit odds, he's worthy of a small wager.

Aric Almirola (100/1) - As longshots go, Almirola appears to be the only triple-digit wager worth looking at this weekend. He's placed among the top-15 in two of the past four races on 1.5-mile tracks and he did test at Chicago in late August. Although he placed 17th in his lone Chicagoland start last year, remember that Almirola started second and led for three laps. He's also placed among the top-20 drivers in each of his past 10 starts this season that didn't end in a crash. Don't spend more than one unit on the 29-year-old, but the jackpot here is too substantial to completely ignore Almirola.

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