2018 NASCAR Predictions - Motor Racing Betting Picks

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NASCAR is the most popular form of auto racing in the United States, and not surprisingly, it's the most common form of racing to wager on as well. The handle for the Daytona 500 is bigger than almost all of the other races combined on the calendar across all forms of auto racing, but that doesn't mean that there isn't plenty of betting action throughout the rest of the year as well.

The senior circuit in NASCAR, now known as the Monster Energy Cup, features a season with 36 races, beginning at Daytona in February and finishing up in Homestead in November. There are 24 races in the "regular season," at which time the top 16 finishers on the season will join the Chase for the Championship.

Drivers who win a race over the course of the year are the first ones eligible to join the Chase for the Championship. Assuming that there aren't 16 different drivers who reached Victory Lane over the course of the first 24 races, the rest of the slots are determined by a points scoring system the likes of which NASCAR has used for years and years.

Once the drivers get into the de facto playoff, they are whittled down in three race blocks. The first three races trim the field from 16 to 12, then next three from 12 to eight, the next three from eight to four, and at that point, the last four drivers standing – known as the Championship 4 – duke it out at the Ford EcoBoost 400 with the best finisher ultimately being awarded the Monster Energy. Advancement through each of the levels of the tournament is guaranteed with a victory in one of the three races in that stage, though the points reset after every stage.

2018 Monster Energy Nascar Cup Schedule

RACE DATE LOCATION
Coke Zero Sugar 400 Saturday, Jul 7, 2018 Daytona International Speedway
Quaker State 400 Saturday, Jul 14, 2018 Kentucky Speedway
New Hampshire 301 Sunday, Jul 22, 2018 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Gander Outdoors 400 Sunday, Jul 29, 2018 Pocono Raceway
GoBowling at The Glen Sunday, Aug 5, 2018 Watkins Glen International
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race at Michigan Sunday, Aug 12, 2018 Michigan International Speedway
Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Saturday, Aug 18, 2018 Bristol Motor Speedway
Bojangles’ Southern 500 Sunday, Sep 2, 2018 Darlington Raceway
Big Machine Vodka Brickyard 400 Sunday, Sep 9, 2018 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Federated Auto Parts 400 Saturday, Sep 22, 2018 Richmond Raceway
Bank of America 500 Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Dover Sunday, Oct 7, 2018 Dover International Speedway
1000Bulbs.com 500 Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 Talladega Superspeedway
Hollywood Casino 400 Sunday, Oct 21, 2018 Kansas Speedway
First Data 500 Sunday, Oct 28, 2018 Martinsville Speedway
AAA Texas 500 Sunday, Nov 4, 2018 Texas Motor Speedway
Can-Am 500 Sunday, Nov 11, 2018 ISM Raceway
Ford EcoBoost 400 Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 Homestead-Miami Speedway

2018 Xfinity Series Schedule

RACE DATE LOCATION
Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 Friday, Jul 6, 2018 Daytona International Speedway
Alsco 300 Friday, Jul 13, 2018 Kentucky Speedway
Lakes Region 200 Saturday, Jul 21, 2018 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
U.S. Cellular 250 Saturday, Jul 28, 2018 Iowa Speedway
Zippo 200 Saturday, Aug 4, 2018 Watkins Glen International
Mid-Ohio Challenge Saturday, Aug 11, 2018 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Food City 300 Friday, Aug 17, 2018 Bristol Motor Speedway
Johnsonville 180 Saturday, Aug 25, 2018 Road America
Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 Saturday, Sep 1, 2018 Darlington Raceway
Lilly Diabetes 250 Saturday, Sep 8, 2018 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Las Vegas Saturday, Sep 15, 2018 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Richmond Friday, Sep 21, 2018 Richmond Raceway
Drive for the Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 Charlotte Motor Speedway
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Dover Saturday, Oct 6, 2018 Dover International Speedway
Kansas Lottery 300 Saturday, Oct 20, 2018 Kansas Speedway
O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Saturday, Nov 3, 2018 Texas Motor Speedway
Ticket Galaxy 200 Saturday, Nov 10, 2018 ISM Raceway

List of NASCAR Winners (Since 2000)

YEAR WINNER TEAM MANUFACTURER
2016 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2015 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
2014 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
2013 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2012 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Dodge
2011 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
2010 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2009 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2008 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2007 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2006 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2005 Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet
2004 Kurt Busch Roush Racing Ford
2003 Matt Kenseth Roush Racing Ford
2002 Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing Pontiac
2001 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2000 Bobby Labonte Joe Gibbs Racing Pontiac

The days of Jimmie Johnson dominating the Monster Energy Cup seemed to be said and done with. One of NASCAR's best champions ever had a run of five straight titles from 2006 through 2010, but from 2011 through 2015, five different men ( including him in 2013 ) claimed championship glory, exactly the type of parity that was expected and hoped for out of the Chase for the Championship. That said, J.J. is back on top. He won the 2016 Chase for the Championship for his seventh all-time championship, tying him with the great Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most in the history of this great sport.

Most Career Monster Energy Championships (By Driver)

7 - Richard Petty - 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979

7 - Dale Earnhardt - 1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994

7 - Jimmie Johnson - 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016

4 - Jeff Gordon - 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001

3 - Lee Petty - 1954, 1958, 1959

3 - David Pearson - 1966, 1968, 1969

3 - Cale Yarborough - 1976, 1977, 1978

3 - Darrell Waltrip - 1981, 1982, 1985

3 - Tony Stewar - 2002, 2005, 2011

With all of the changes in NASCAR's version of the postseason, it was always looked upon as really hard for anyone to run down Petty and Earnhardt. Johnson was, of course, the only man who realistically had a shot to get the job done after his five straight titles, but now, he has two championships in the last four years as well to match the greats.

Jeff Gordon, another of the all-time greats, only finished with four titles, though it should be noted that this awesome Chase for the Championship format gave him a chance to win another title in 2015 when he was in the Championship 4 going into the Ford EcoBoost 400.

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