|Tony Stewart might be best value on odds board in Las Vegas.|
Edwards also won the pole at Sonoma Raceway’s road course in June, then finished fourth.
Edwards, listed at 8-1 odds, was already a strong contender based on his own history on the seven-turn, 2.45-mile road course at which he has an 8.4 average finish in 11 starts. His best finish was third in 2009, but his consistency has been incredible with eight top-10 finishes.
Track history shows the pole winner has won nine times in 33 Cup races. Las Vegan Kyle Busch was the last to do it in 2008.
Starting from the top five has produced 21 of the 33 winners, which makes those starting behind Edwards worthy of a strong look at the betting window. Kyle Larson (30-1) starts second, followed by Sonoma winner Tony Stewart (18-1), Matt Kenseth (30-1) and race co-favorite Busch (6-1).
Among those, Busch is the driver to beat. He’s a two-time winner at Watkins Glen with a 10.5 average finish, and he practiced extremely well in both of Friday’s 85-minute sessions, with top-five speeds that included having the best 10-consecutive lap average.
STEWART ON A ROLL
When Stewart came back after missing the first eight races this season, he looked as if he was just going through the motions to close out his final season. He didn’t have any top-five finishes in his first seven races, but something clicked at Sonoma. He won his eighth career road race there and first victory anywhere since 2013.
The win gave him a career reboot, and he started looking like Stewart circa 2011 when he won the last of his three Cup titles. In his past four starts, he’s finished fifth at Kentucky, second at New Hampshire, 11th at Indianapolis and fifth last week at Pocono.
His five wins at Watkins Glen are a track record, and in four of them, he started within the top five. He’s the best value on the board at 18-1.
NEW SURFACE AND TIRE
Along with the track being repaved after last season’s race, there was a new Goodyear tire compound that never has been used in the series. It’s a much harder compound that barely wears out. Las Vegan Kurt Busch said during an interview halfway through the second practice Friday that he was still using the same set of tires that ran all 27 laps during the first session.
The effect will create all kinds of opportunities for teams to scrap four-tire changes during pit stops and gain a few seconds, and positions, by taking two tires while fueling up.
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