|LVH giving Hamlin ultimate sign of respect at 6/1 when he might not race|
Hamlin possibly coming back brings a little more value to the rest of the favorites. Kyle Busch has won the past four Richmond spring races and is posted at 9-2 (+450). Those odds are very fair considering how dominating he’s been -- both this season and at Richmond in his career. In 16 starts, Busch has a 5.4 average finish at Richmond, the best among all active drivers.
If Hamlin doesn’t participate, the chances of Busch winning Saturday become greater and, therefore, Busch might be closer to 7-2 (+350).
The main question with Hamlin, if he does start, is how good he’ll be behind the wheel with back pain. Richmond is a tough three-quarter-mile track with not much banking, which means there will be all kinds of bumping and banging going on. You also have the possibility of Hamlin running the first few laps and then switching with Vickers on the first pit stop. Getting 6-1 on Hamlin doesn’t seem too attractive with the thought of Vickers closing the race out.
By the way, for betting purposes, the driver who starts the race is the driver of record. If you bet the “field” at 25-1 -- which Vickers is part of -- under the scenario of Hamlin starting and Vickers taking over mid-race, the winner of the bet would be Hamlin, and not Vickers or the field.
Another driver who had his odds raised generously because of Hamlin’s possible return is Jimmie Johnson, who is listed at 8-1. Johnson is a three-time Richmond winner, but what makes him most attractive this week is his performance at Phoenix, where he finished second.
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