Kurt Busch hopes Chase lightning can strike twice for him, just like in 2004

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CHICAGO – Kurt Busch finds himself in familiar territory as the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins this weekend.

It was 10 years ago in 2004 that Busch became the first driver to win the then new-fangled Chase for the Nextel Cup format, a 10-race playoff that featured 10 drivers battling it out for the championship.

Busch emerged victorious and appeared headed to several more championships in the following season.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

But in a way, Busch is back in the same position as he was heading into NASCAR’s first-ever playoffs in 2004: even though it’s still called the Chase, it’s an entirely new format with new twists (three elimination rounds), more drivers (16 instead of 10 as in 2004) and there’s a lot of unknown among drivers and teams going into the 11th edition of the Chase.

“It doesn’t,” Busch said when asked if it seems that long since he won his Cup crown. “It seems like maybe five or six years have gone by. It’d be easy just to scratch off the zero (the second zero in 2004) and add a one on the Nextel Cup that I have.

“To add a Sprint Cup to Stewart-Haas’s trophy case in 2014, the team is ready. (Kevin) Harvick’s team is definitely a strong frontrunner. Our program, our strength, we’re going to wear ’em out with consistency in the first few rounds and see where we stack up.”

Admittedly, Busch would not be in the this year’s Chase had it not been for his win in spring at Martinsville. He’s admittedly had struggles for a good chunk of the first 26 races but feels a positive turnaround is definitely in the cards for the final 10 events.

“You have a formula in your own mind, you have a plan and you stick with it. If it unfolds exactly how you planned it, then you stay a step ahead of everybody else,” Busch said during Thursday’s Chase Media Day in downtown Chicago. “I don’t want to reveal all our secrets, but we’ve applied them the last two months. I like the way Kevin Harvick and I have worked together. We really tried hard with Tony and Danica this last month to get (them) that win.”

Harvick and Busch are the only flag-bearers for Stewart-Haas Racing in this year’s Chase, as both Stewart and Patrick failed to qualify. But even with just two representatives in the playoffs, Busch feels SHR has just as good of a chance to make it to the four-driver, winner-take-all final round at Homestead in mid-November as any other team.

“You win by numbers and Hendrick Motorsports has four of the top 16 teams,” Busch said. “When it goes to that final round at Miami-Homestead, if we have two of our two still left, we have a 50 percent chance of winning it. You win by numbers.”

And even though Patrick and Stewart aren’t in the Chase, they can still help Busch’s and Harvick’s respective marches to the championship.

How so?

“Well, they can wreck a lot of people out there,” Busch said with a laugh, before adding with a serious second thought. “I know they won’t do that.

“Teammates do come into play. Tony and I share very similar setups. The way we drive, the way we think, Tony and I are so similar and it’s been great to go through that this year and see that.

“It’s up to us to keep track with Kevin, he has his speed and raw power, but for us on the 41, we’re the mirror image on the 14. If he finds something, that’s an extra step that’s going to help the 41 team.”

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Max Verstappen is PointsBet favorite to score sixth staight in 2022 Singapore Grand Prix

PointsBet 2022 Singapore odds
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Max Verstappen is the PointsBet Sportsbook odds favorite to win the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix on the Marina Bay Street course to stretch his current win streak to six consecutive. He shows odds of -200 this week.

Formula 1 did not compete in Singapore in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Verstappen has podium finishes in his last two attempts on this track. he was second in 2018 and third in 2019. In the first 15 races of this season, he has failed to stand on the podium only twice and has an average finish of 2.73.

With minus odds, the way to determine a payout is by subtraction. In order for a bettor to earn $100, he must wager $200 this week; with that wager, he will get back his initial stake and winnings of $100.

For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a bet of +300 is the same as 3/1.

Charles Leclerc is ranked second this week with +400 odds. He has two previous Singapore GP starts to his credit with a best of second in 2019. He is coming off back-to-back podium finishes with a third in the Dutch GP and a second at Monza.

Ranked third is Carlos Sainz, Jr. with a line of +1100. He has top-five finishes in four of his last five starts, but only one of these, a third in the Belgian GP, was on the podium. Sainz is one of four winners other than Verstappen this season. His victory came in the British GP.

Lewis Hamilton shows a line of +1200. His last win came last fall in the Saudi Arabian GP and the Mercedes team has struggled to contend for victory in 2022. They are improving, however, with eight top-fives in the last nine races. Hamilton has two wins in his last three Singapore starts, which came in 2017 and 2018.

Rounding out the top five is Hamilton’s teammate George Russell at +1800. He has not won, but has shown remarkable consistency with top-fives in all but one race. Notably, his only bad finish came in his home GP in England. Russell has one previous start at Marina Bay; he finished last in the 2019 race. He finished fourth in 2019 as part of a four-race streak of top-fives.

The most recent Singapore GP winner from 2019, Sebastian Vettel is a longshot at +50000.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner, and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

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