NASCAR Betting – Smartest Plays Under The Lights At Darlington

Nascar OddsPlacing a bet on Machida in this weekend’s light-heavyweight UFC title fight is similar to taking Jimmie Johnson, the four-time defending NASCAR champion: you always have a pretty good shot to win. However, like Machida with Shogun Rua, Johnson is going to have his hands full this Saturday night as the Sprint Cup series heads to Darlington Raceway for the Showtime Southern 500, and his main challenger and co-favorite are his teammates.

NASCAR Betting – Saturday, May 8, 7:30 PM ET

Jimmie Johnson is listed at +600 with a couple of wins and the best finishing average among active drivers at Darlington, at 6.9 in 11 races. Johnson finished second to teammate Mark Martin here last year, and he swept the 2004 races, which was the final year that Darlington held two races. He’s been solid this year as usual, and outside of the restrictor-plate races at Daytona and Talladega, he has yet to finish worse than 12th in a race.

Jeff Gordon is up there at +600 as well, and he has seven wins in 29 trips to Darlington, most recently in 2007. He came in fifth here last year, and he’s just about due to snap a winless streak that has gone on since last year’s spring race at Texas. The No.24 driver has finished in the top three in three of the last five races, but they still have to work on setting their car up for the short runs that are inevitably popping up at the end of races.

Martin comes in at +1200, and the 51-year-old has 43 races at the “Track Too Tough To Tame” under his belt, notching 26 top-10s and a pair of wins. He’ll be aiming to bounce back from a 25th-place run at Richmond that ended a streak of top-six finishes at three.

Like the Preakness betting odds of any horse ridden by Calvin Borel, you have to check out Greg Biffle at +2000. “The Biff” has led laps in four of the last five races at Darlington, including 117 in last year’s eighth-place run, and he has a pair of wins in nine races here, which came in back-to-back years of 2005 and 2006, although he may be looking for Kasey Kahne to win the pole. In both of Biffle’s wins here, Kahne (who has odds of +2500) took the pole position.

A darkhorse to watch is Juan Pablo Montoya at +2500, even though he’s never cracked the top 10 in three trips to Darlington, including last year’s 20th-place run. Montoya has finished in the top six in three of his last four races, and his 18th-place position in the standings is more down to bad luck, not bad cars. Look for him to be a factor here.

Sports betting pick: Jeff Gordon (+600)

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