Thursday, April 2, 2015

New Chase format allows value to be found on Kevin Harvick futures

Kevin Harvick looks like he'll be tough to catch in 2015
LAS VEGAS-- With NASCAR taking Easter weekend off, it gives us a chance to catch up on Sprint Cup futures odds at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. Since the book opened wagering in November, six races have been run, enough for us to see the haves and have-nots.

Jimmie Johnson opened as the 9-to-2 favorite to capture his seventh Sprint Cup title, but Kevin Harvick has stolen the show and radically altered perception. He has shaken up the odds board, moving from 6-to-1 down to 7-to-2, while Johnson has slid to 6-to-1.

Harvick is one of three drivers with top-10 finishes in all six races this season and is the easy favorite to win his second straight Sprint Cup. He's been capable of winning on every track so far -- finishing first or second in five of those six races -- but his biggest edge toward the championship is how he performs on 1.5-mile tracks. There are 11 races on 1.5 mile tracks this season, including next Saturday at Texas and five during the Chase. Doing well on 1.5s is the gateway to a championship. It helped Harvick win his first title last year and Johnson win six times.

If this was 2003 or earlier -- before the Chase started -- Harvick would be very comfortable right now about winning the Championship, and his odds would be less than even-money. The old system was based on points for all 36 races with no "playoff" system to determine the champ. Even under the old Chase format -- pre-2014 -- Harvick would be around 2-to-1 or 5-to-2. But with the current elimination format, where three drivers have an equal chance at Homestead to win it all, it's no longer a certainty that the best car throughout the season will win a championship.

Last season at Homestead, Harvick had to beat out Ryan Newman, who hadn't won a race all season, and Denny Hamlin, who had won only once. In a one-race format for all the marbles, anything can happen. For the three drivers left standing, the first 35 races mean nothing, which is why Harvick's odds appear to be very generous.

Read More Here...Updated Sprint Cup odds

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