|Kyle Busch is on a roll right now, and loves Richmond|
The other variables that make Busch the favorite this week have to do with the terrific run he’s currently on that has made him a true contender heading into the Chase. We’ve seen Busch fail miserably during the Chase, but this year seems different. He’s finished 12th or better in 12 of his past 15 starts, and has shown a vast range of excellence at varying tracks – he’s won the road course at Watkins Glen and on the 1.5-mile track last week at Atlanta, and he finished second at New Hampshire’s 1-mile layout.
Busch has four wins on the season, tied for second in the category with Jimmie Johnson and one behind teammate Matt Kenseth. Johnson and Kenseth are two of the three co-second choices at Richmond at 7-to-1.
Johnson has won three times at Richmond’s three-quarter mile track over his career and has typically run well on the shorter flat tracks. Had he not finished 28th or worse in his last three races, he may have been 5-to-1, too, or at least 6-to-1. But indeed he has. Johnson and his team are failing like rarely seen before – and at the worst possible time, just as the Chase is about to begin. The field of 12 will be set after this weekend’s race.
Not only are there doubts about Johnson winning this week, but there are also serious questions about him winning his sixth championship, which seemed like a gimme last month. Beyond his recent troubles, the real problem beginning next week for Johnson rests with the type of tracks he’ll see in five of the 10 Chase races – the 1.5-mile layouts at Chicago, Kansas, Charlotte, Texas and Miami. Johnson won five championships by being the best on those types of tracks, but in six attempts this season, he doesn’t have a win and has only one top five. Still, Johnson is the 3-to-2 favorite to win this season’s title.
Johnson’s troubles on 1.5-mile tracks have nothing to do with this week, but it’s another weight thrown on the back of the No. 48 team, and the burden is becoming too heavy for them to handle. The pressure is mounting, and if Johnson doesn’t run well this week, we may see the cockiest, most confident grin yet from the driver of the No. 18 car when the Chase begins.
Brad Keseloswki, the defending Sprint Cup champion, is the third driver listed at 7-to-1 this week. With hischances of making the Chase slim, he‘s got to come out swinging Saturday night and go all out for the win. He's in 15th place, 28 points outside the top 10, but if he gets his first win of the season, he may be able to sneak in.
Keselowski trails provisional wild-card holder Martin Truex Jr. by 13 points (Truex is in 13th place, but has a win; 11th place Jeff Gordon does not). Keselowski’s low odds this week are largely based on his mindset that he needs a win – they’re certainly not based on what he's done over his career at Richmond. In eight Cup starts on the track, he's averaged a 20.5 finish, his best being a seventh-place last fall. However, he did finish fourth at both Phoenix and New Hampshire, two tracks that require similar set-ups.
Kasey Kahne is listed at odds of 8-to-1, which may seem a bit extreme since he hasn’t won at Richmond since 2005 and has a bloated career average finish of 18.2 at the track. But Kahne has had a properly- balanced car and lots of horsepower all season. He practices well at just about every track and is a candidate to win almost anywhere. He’s the one driver for which the bookmaker feels it’s better to be safe than sorry, regardless of what trends say.
In addition to the track’s spring race, one of the better handicapping tools for Richmond is analyzing the results from the 1-mile flat tracks of New Hampshire and Phoenix. The layouts aren’t alike, but trends tell us that if a driver does well on one, he typically does well on the others.
Several drivers have performed extremely well with consistent finishes at each of the three races run on those flat tracks this season. Gordon is listed at 10-to-1 odds this week not only because of his desperation to make the Chase by making up six-points on 10th-place Kurt Busch, but also because he’s finished 11th or better on all three tracks this season. He also was runner-up in this race last season under almost the same Chase circumstances.
Kevin Harvick won four of the six races at Richmond, Phoenix and New Hampshire during the 2006 season, at least one on each of the tracks. He won the spring race in April and also finished 13th at Phoenix and seventh at New Hampshire. Overall, he’s a three-time winner at Richmond, and his 12-to-1 odds this week appear generous based on his history at these types of tracks.
The Richard Childress program has elevated its game over the last two months, and it’s shown – not only with Harvick, but also with Jeff Burton, a native Virginian and winner of the 1998 fall event. Burton has fared well on these tracks over his career, doing most of his winning at Phoenix and New Hampshire. He has finished in the top-10 on all three tracks this season, including a season-best third-place at New Hampshire in July. He’s an intriguing longshot at 100-to-1 this week, and worth at least a $5 throwaway.
Like Burton, Carl Edwards has finished in the top 10 at all three similar tracks, including claiming his only win of the season at Phoenix in March. Edwards has never won at Richmond, part of the reason he’s listed so high at 18-to-1 odds.
Read More Here.........LVH odds to win at Richmond and Updated Sprint Cup odds