Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2015 Auto Club 400 odds: Harvick-Express could be derailed Sunday at Fontana

Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch should both have good runs Sunday
LAS VEGAS -- With finishing second or better in the first four races of the 2015 Sprint Cup season, Kevin Harvick has been posted by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as the 7-to-2 favorite to win Sunday's Auto Club 400 in Fontana, Calif.

For a driver that has won the past two races during NASCAR's west coast swing, the odds may appear to be somewhat attractive considering he was as low as 9-to-5 last week at Phoenix. The wide 2-mile layout of Fontana has been much harder for Harvick to conquer than Phoenix has been, but he hasn't won in Las Vegas either.

The best betting strategy for this week is to pay close attention to what happened at the 1.5-mile tracks at Atlanta and Las Vegas. Although Fontana has a unique design where the high and low line are equally popular with drivers, it is different from most of the other tracks; it doesn't resemble any track other than Michigan, Atlanta and Las Vegas. These are relative because down force tracks require lots of speed to do well. Past history at Fontana is secondary in the betting equation this week.

Let's take a look at the odds according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook:

KEVIN HARVICK 7/2: The Bakersfield, CA native won his only Cup race on the track closest to his home in 2011, but in his first year with Stewart-Haas Racing last season he finished 36th (despite being our top-rated driver following all practice sessions). He should be among the fastest in Saturday's final practices, but this is one driver where past history (16.4 avg.) on the track may play against him. A record seven straight top-two finishes is a hard current-form trend to go against, but there's better value with a wider pool of candidates to win this week.

JIMMIE JOHNSON 6/1: The five-time winner from El Cajon, CA got his first Cup win as a rookie on his home track in 2002 and owns just about every major record on the track, including a 6.7 average finish in 20 starts. He hasn't won there since 2010, but on the strength of leading 92 laps and winning at Atlanta, JJ is a major player this week.

JEFF GORDON 8/1: The Vallejo, CA native christened the track with a win in the inaugural 1997 race and has won two more times since, the last coming in 2004. Although the beginning to his final Cup season hasn't been what he could have imagined in his wildest dreams, there is good news. Despite poor finishes at both Atlanta and Las Vegas, he had cars capable of winning. Gordon should be contending for the win in the late stages.

DALE EARNHARDT JR 8/1: In 22 starts, he's never won at Fontana and has a 19.5 average finish with a pair of runner-ups. One aspect that makes him such a good candidate this week is finishing third at Atlanta and fourth at Las Vegas. He'll be using a new chassis this week.

BRAD KESELOWSKI 8/1: For a driver that has been blessed with so much horsepower over the past three seasons, it's surprising to see that his best Fontana finish in six career starts is 18th. Despite sluggish cars that don't resemble his teammates (Joey Logano) or his 2014 cars on down force tracks, he still managed to have decent runs at Atlanta (9th) and Las Vegas (7th).

JOEY LOGANO 8/1: He might present the best value to win on the basis of leading the second most laps behind Harvick at Atlanta and Las Vegas.His best Fontana finish was third in 2013.

KASEY KAHNE 12/1: This is his type of track and it's surprising that his 2006 victory is his lone win in 18 starts. He should finish within the top-10 this week.

MATT KENSETH 12/1: He's a three-time winner and finished fourth last season. There's good news and bad news with Kenseth; his Joe Gibbs racing teammate, Kyle Busch, won at Fontana the past two seasons. The bad news is that JGR hasn't won in a non-restrictor-plate race since Busch's win last year. He was fifth at Atlanta three weeks ago.

Read More Here...all the drivers odds and thoughts

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