Wednesday, November 19, 2014

First Las Vegas 2015 Sprint Cup odds show books differing on favorite

Who will be in the final four next season?
LAS VEGAS -- On the heels of Kevin Harvick's 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup title, two sports books in Las Vegas wasted little time in posting odds for the upcoming 2015 season. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook posted its odds on Monday followed by William Hill on Tuesday. It's the earliest Las Vegas has ever posted NASCAR Championship odds for the following year.

For SuperBook manager Ed Salmons, it wasn't a difficult process at all as he's well-versed on all the driver changes and the nearly five dozen changes NASCAR implemented to the 2015 rules package which includes a horsepower reduction from 850 to 725 and a reduction in the rear spoiler height from eight inches to six.

"I just had some time on Monday afternoon during my regular routine, which for the past eight months has been reserved for setting weekly NASCAR race numbers, so I thought I might as well post them up," said Salmons, who is expecting the rules package to make cars run similar to the way they do in the Nationwide series.

The two books differ on who the favorite should be. William Hill posted Harvick as the 5-to-1 favorite to go back-to-back while the SuperBook posted six-time champion Jimmie Johnson as their 5-to-1 favorite. Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are next in line; although Salmons is down on Gordon a little.

"I think as long as there are double-file restarts, Jeff Gordon is going to have a tough time winning another championship," Salmons said, even though he shows Gordon a lot of respect by posting him at 6-to-1. "He's absolutely terrible on restarts and it cost him a chance to get to the Championship round. He even picks the wrong restart position, when he should be starting inside, he chooses outside."

One of the major differences in odds was what to do with Carl Edwards, who will drive the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in 2015. The SuperBook posted him at 12-to-1 odds right near new teammates Matt Kenseth (10-to-1), Kyle Busch (12-to-1) and Denny Hamlin (15-to-1), but William Hill posted him at very attractive 30-to-1 odds. We just saw Harvick show that it is possible to win a title in the first year with a new team, and Salmons thinks JGR will be one of those teams that shows improvements in 2015.

"I would assume Gibbs can only get better. They were way down in horsepower last season but were still able to run competitively and almost win a championship."

Another driver that the two books differ on is Dale Earnhardt Jr., who burst into the win column four times in 2014 after only two wins in the previous seven seasons. William Hill sees his winning ways continuing as they've posted him at 8-to-1 odds to win his first Sprint cup title, but Salmons isn't sold on Junior's nature of racing and listed him at 15-to-1.

"Dale Jr. just doesn't have a championship in him," said Salmons. "He's not a winner and doesn't have that mentality needed. It's like he just wants to hang out with the guys and be liked rather than racing hard and possibly irritating some of his friends. But that's what it takes sometimes and I don't think he has it in him."

After seeing how the new format of the Chase played out where we had one driver -- Ryan Newman -- with no wins on the season finish second at Homestead and another -- Denny Hamlin -- with only one win on the year leading at Homestead with eight laps to go, the way we used to look at Championship odds can be completely thrown out the window. It's almost like two different seasons with different agendas for each, and one slip-up anywhere in the final 10 races can cost you more than ever before.

Harvick came right out of the gate fast with a win-or-nothing approach early on in the season and then needed to win at Phoenix and Homestead to win the title. Keselowski, Logano, and Gordon mixed in the wins with consistency all season, but only Logano made it through the Chase gauntlet among the three to be one of the Championship Four.

Newman's 2014 game plan is a model that will give championship hopes to dozens of drivers who wouldn't have had much of a chance under the old format. Salmons has a couple of long shot drivers he thinks can be contenders in 2015 similar to Newman, beginning with Newman's Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon.

"I think you could see Austin Dillon do something similar to what Newman did in the Chase. He's a big picture racer, conservative and it's that mentality that saw him win a Nationwide title without winning a race. Also, Tony Stewart can't be as bad as last season. He was a train wreck, but I expect both he and Kurt Busch to bounce back in 2015."

Below is a side-by-side look at both the Super Book and William Hill odds, each with an index that has less than a 30 percent theoretic hold which is extremely fair for bettors. The SuperBook is right at 28.9 percent. As more books post their numbers, we'll add to the list. Next up is Wynn Las Vegas, who will be hosting the NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards on Dec. 5.

Read More Here.........Westgate & William Hill Sprint Cup odds

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