On Sunday, July 1st, NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup series heads to Chicago for the Overton’s 400. Due to NASCAR’s schedule realignment, this race at the Chicagoland Speedway has returned to its roots of taking place in July instead of being the first race of the NASCAR playoffs from 2011 to 2017.
The 2018 Overton’s 400 is a 267 lap race spanning 400 total miles. The first stage will be 80 laps, stage 2 will be another 80 laps and then the remaining 107 laps will be for the victory. The Overton’s 400 begins at 2:30 PM ET and will be the first race of the season televised on NBCSN. Joining the NBCSN NASCAR broadcasting team will be Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Heading into Chicago
Coming into Chicago, Martin Truex Jr. is on fire. Not only did he win the last two Monster Energy Cup races here, but he also won last weekend in Sonoma for his 3rd victory of the season. In my opinion, Truex Jr. is the man to beat this weekend despite the odds favoring Kevin Harvick. Other Overton’s 400 storylines to closely watch are:
- How will Dale Jr. do as a commentator?
- Can Harvick win this race for the first time since 2002?
- Will anyone other than Bowyer beat NASCAR’s Big 3?
- Will we have a first time winner this weekend or another multi-time winner like at Sonoma?
Previous NASCAR Chicagoland Speedway Winners
Since the inaugural race in 2001, there has only been a dozen different drivers to take the checkered flag at Chicagoland Speedway. The following is a list of these previous winners, courtesy of Wikipedia:
|Year||Winning Driver||Winning Team||Manufacturer|
|2001||Kevin Harvick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|2002||Kevin Harvick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|2003||Ryan Newman||Penske Racing||Dodge|
|2004||Tony Stewart||Joe Gibbs Racing||Chevrolet|
|2005||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Dale Earnhardt, Inc.||Chevrolet|
|2006||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|2007||Tony Stewart||Joe Gibbs Racing||Chevrolet|
|2008||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|2009||Mark Martin||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|2010||David Reutimann||Michael Waltrip Racing||Toyota|
|2011||Tony Stewart||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet|
|2012||Brad Keselowski||Penske Racing||Dodge|
|2013||Matt Kenseth||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|2014||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford|
|2015||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|2016||Martin Truex Jr.||Furniture Row Racing||Toyota|
|2017||Martin Truex Jr.||Furniture Row Racing||Toyota|
There have been 4 drivers who have won this race multiple times: Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr. Stewart is the only driver to win this race three times. However, Harvick, Truex Jr., and Keselowski are all racing this Sunday and could join Stewart with three career wins in this race. Denny Hamlin (2015) and Kyle Busch (2008) are the only other former winners who are racing this weekend.
2018 Overton’s 400 Betting Odds
With most sports betting sites still to release their odds, we turn to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook for the current Overton’s 400 betting odds:
- Kevin Harvick +225
- Kyle Busch +350
- Martin Truex Jr. +350
- Kyle Larson +700
- Denny Hamlin +1200
- Ryan Blaney +1500
- Brad Keselowski +1500
- Joey Logano +1800
- Erik Jones +2000
- Kurt Busch +2000
- Clint Bowyer +2000
- Chase Elliott +2500
- Jimmie Johnson +3000
- Aric Almirola +4000
- Daniel Suarez +10000
- Jamie McMurray +10000
- Ryan Newman +10000
- Paul Menard +10000
- William Byron +10000
- Alex Bowman +10000
- Ricky Stenhouse JR. +30000
- Austin Dillon +30000
- Trevor Bayne +50000
- Kasey Kahne +50000
- Darrell Wallace JR. +50000
- AJ Allmendinger +100000
- Chris Buescher +100000
- Ty Dillon +200000
- Michael McDowell +200000
The Favorites to Win at Chicagoland
It’s no surprise that the Big 3 of NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup series are the top three odds on favorite to win this race. However, it is a bit surprising that Kevin Harvick is the favorite and not Truex Jr. As mentioned above, Truex Jr. won last weekend in Sonoma when the Big 3 were all equally tied for odds on favorite. Additionally, Truex Jr. won the last two Monster Energy Cup races at this track.
Kevin Harvick (+225)
Other than his crash at Charlotte, 4 races ago, Harvick has finished 7th or better in 10 out of his last 11 races. He also won two of those races and finished runner up the last two weeks (Michigan and Sonoma). Harvick has 5 wins on the season and sits second in the points standings just behind Kyle Busch.
Last year, Harvick finished 3rd at Chicago. However, in 2016 he finished 20th and in 2015 he finished 42nd. Harvick won the first two races at Chicagoland Speedway in 2001 and 2002. Since then, his best finish was 2nd in 2011. In 17 career starts at this track, Harvick has nine Top 5’s, ten Top 10’s, and an average finish of 11.7. With how hot he is this year, and his success at this track, it’s easy to see why Harvick is at the top of this list.
Kyle Busch (+350)
On the season, Busch leads the Cup series in points and in second behind Harvick with 4 wins so far. Each week, Kyle is one of the favorites to win the race and this week is no different. Kyle finished 5th at Sonoma last weekend, which continued his streak of Top 5 finishes to four straight races. In Busch’s 14 career starts at Chicagoland Speedway, he has one win (2008), 4 poles, four Top 5’s, seven Top 10’s, and an average finish of 11.4. Last year, Busch finished 15th, which broke a streak 5 straight Top 10 finishes.
Martin Truex Jr. (+350)
As mentioned, Truex Jr. comes into this race red hot after winning in Sonoma last weekend due to tricking the rest of the teams by faking a pit stop. His strategy paid off and Truex was able run away with the race. Currently, Truex sits 4th in the points standings. However, he does have three wins, ten Top 5’s and ten Top 10’s in 16 races.
In 12 career starts at Chicago, Truex has two wins (2016, 2017), two Top 5’s, four Top 10’s, and an average finish of 13.8. Martin won the last two races at this track and I’m quite surprised that he isn’t the odds on favorite to win this weekend.
Kyle Larson (+700)
Sitting 9th in the point standings, Larson has yet to crack the win column despite winning 2 poles, finishing in the Top 5 on five occasions, and earning nine Top 10 finishes. In 4 career starts at Chicago, Larson has three Top 7 finishes and one 18th place, which gives him an average finish of 8.2. Of the top 5 drivers who are odds on favorite to win this race, Larson has the best average finish. However, he does only have 4 career races at Chicago and 2018 hasn’t quite gone the way everyone thought it would. For example, last weekend, Larson won the pole at Sonoma, but he finished the race in 14th place.
Denny Hamlin (+1200)
Hamlin is a former winner at Chicago (2015) and has 4 straight Top 6 finishes at the Speedway coming into this weekend. However, Hamlin has also had a bit of an up-and-down season like Kyle Larson. Hamlin sits 8th in the points standings, but doesn’t have a win on the season. He does have six Top 5’s and nine Top 10’s in 2018, but desperately needs that win to guarantee a spot in the playoffs. Last weekend, Hamlin ran well at Sonoma until a late pit stop put him back in the pack and he finished 10th.
In his 12 career starts at Chicago, Hamlin has one win, three Top 5’s, six Top 10’s, and an average finish of 15.1. Denny finished 4th here last year and is looking to come away with the victory.
The Best Overton’s 400 Betting Value
There are a few drivers who I think provide some great value this weekend. One is due to his past successes at Chicagoland Speedway and the other is due to his current success this season:
Brad Keselowski (+1500)
In my opinion, Keselowski provides the best value of any driver this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. He’s a two-time winner at this track (2012, 2014) and also has four Top 5’s, seven Top 10’s, and an average finish of 9.2. In his last 7 races at this track, Brad hasn’t finished lower than 8th.
Currently, Keselowski sits 4th in the points standings with four Top 5’s and nine Top 10’s this season. He hasn’t won a race in 2018, but has won at least one race in the last 7 seasons. Brad finished 13th last weekend in Sonoma, which broke his streak of 3 straight races where he finished 6th or better. I expect Brad to get up there and compete this weekend in Chicago, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the man to upstage NASCAR’s Big 3.
Clint Bowyer (+2000)
In my opinion, Clint Bowyer should be considered right up there with Truex, Busch and Harvick each and every week. Bowyer is 6th in the points standings and already has two wins on the season. He also has five Top 5’s and nine Top 10’s so far. Bowyer followed up his win at Michigan, two races ago, with a strong 3rd place finish at Sonoma last weekend. He seems to be turning things around and heating up just in time for the summer.
Bowyer has 14 career starts at Chicago with one Top 5, seven Top 10’s, and an average finish of 14.4. He finished 13th last year and hasn’t cracked the Top 10 since 2013. However, Bowyer is putting together a strong 2018 and I feel he has a better chance at this race than what his odds have him listed at.
The Longshot to win the Overton’s 400
On the year, Jimmie Johnson currently sits in 12th place with four Top 5’s and six Top 10’s on the season. However, he has only led 2 laps in 2018. Johnson is definitely struggling this year, compared to past seasons, but is slowly turning things around. Over the last 9 races, he’s finished 12th or better in 7 of those races. He had a respectable 11th place last weekend in Sonoma. With all of that said, Johnson has been solid at Chicago.
In his 16 career starts at Chicagoland Speedway, Johnson has seven Top 5’s, eleven Top 10’s, and an average finish of 9.4. He’s finished in the Top 10 at this track 68.8% of the time. I think his +3000 odds are worth throwing a few bucks at.
Overton’s 400 Driver Matchups
One of my favorite NASCAR prop bets are driver matchups. This is where you bet on which driver of a matchup will finish in a higher spot by the end of the race. The following are a few matchups that I really like, courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas Superbook:
Jimmie Johnson (-125) vs Aric Almirola (+105)
Not more than two paragraphs up, I laid out why I feel Johnson is an excellent choice for the longshot of the weekend. In addition to that, I also believe that Johnson will crush this matchup. Almirola might be two spots higher in the point standings than Johnson, but Almirola hasn’t cracked the Top 5 yet this season and he has had poor showings at Chicago for his career.
In 6 career starts at Chicagoland Speedway, Almirola has just one Top 10 and an average finish of 22.8. When you compare that to Johnson’s average finish of 9.4, this matchup is a no brainer. Take JJ to finish in the Top 10 this weekend, while Almirola flirts with a Top 20 finish.
Brad Keselowski (-125) vs Joey Logano (+105)
I’ve already detailed Brad’s success at this track as I feel he provides excellent betting value this weekend. With that said, he’s going to be in a tough matchup against Joey Logano on Sunday. Brad does have two wins and an average finish of 9.2 at this track, but Logano has an average finish of 12.9 and has four straight Top 7 finishes. I’m going with Brad in this one because of his success here, but it will be a fun battle to watch.
Erik Jones (-130) vs Chase Elliott (+110)
I am stunned that Jones is the favorite in this matchup. On the season, these two are 13th and 14th in the points standings, but they’ve had polar opposite success at this track in their young careers. Chase Elliott has two races under his belt at this track and has finished 2nd in 2017 and 3rd in 2016. That’s an average finish of 2.5. Erik Jones has one career race at this track and finished 33rd. In fact, he didn’t even complete the race. The only reason I didn’t put Elliott in my betting value section is because he hasn’t won a race in his career yet. However, I see him dominating Jones in this matchup on Sunday.
The 2018 Overton’s 400 Checkered Flag
This is the weekend that someone other than Clint Bowyer will upset NASCAR’s Big 3. I have a good feeling about it as there are several other drivers who have historically run well at this track and I believe they will give The Big 3 a run for their money on Sunday.
I’m doing my best not to put the Big 3 in every Top 5 driver predictions, but it’s very hard not to. With that said, I’m going to leave Kyle Busch out this weekend. I know leaving Truex Jr. out last weekend blew up in my face, but one of the Big 3 isn’t going make the Top 5 on Sunday.
In addition to Kyle Busch, I also think Larson, Logano and Johnson will all have Top 10 showings on Sunday. Elliott could surprise everyone and get his first career win here. As cool as that would be, I think he gets into the Top 5, but falls short.
If you notice, I have 4 former winners in my Top 5 drivers and I do believe that one of them will win. As easy as it would be to say Harvick or Truex, I’m going with Brad Keselowski this weekend. I think he will get his first win of 2018 and earn a spot in the playoffs.
Top 5 Drivers
In no particular order, here’s my prediction for the Top 5 drivers this weekend:
- Kevin Harvick
- Chase Elliott
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Brad Keselowski
- Denny Hamlin
Overton’s 400 Betting Recap
Winner: Brad Keselowski (+1500)
Betting Value: Brad Keselowski (+1500) and Clint Bowyer (+2000)
Longshot: Jimmie Johnson (+3000)
- Jimmie Johnson (-125) over Aric Almirola
- Brad Keselowski (-125) over Joey Logano
- Chase Elliott (+110) over Erik Jones
Overton’s 400 and Chicagoland Speedway Fun Facts
The following is a list of fun facts for NASCAR’s race at the Chicagoland Speedway:
- The Speedway first broke ground in August of 1999.
- The first NASCAR race was run here on July 15, 2001.
- Kevin Harvick won the inaugural race and the next one too.
- Tony Stewart has the most wins at this track with 3.
- Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete in this race.
- Kevin Harvick has the most Top 5 finishes at this track with 9.
- Jimmie Johnson has led the most laps at this track with 695.
- There have been 17 Monster Energy Cup races run at this track.
- 12 different drivers have won the 17 total NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series races.
- 11 different drivers have finished runner up in the 17 races.
- Only Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have won this race in consecutive years.
- Kyle Busch was the youngest driver to win this race back in 2008 when he was 23 years old.
- Kyle Busch is also the only driver to win this race from the pole.
- Chevrolet has 8 victories at Chicagoland Speedway, which leads all manufacturers.
- Kurt Busch is the only driver to race in all 17 races without winning.
- Only two times has this race gone into Overtime.