Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Four drivers listed as co-favorites for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

Jeff Gordon going for his 10th road course win this week
LAS VEGAS -- It wasn't long ago that Sprint Cup road course races were dominated by a select few each and every year, but over the past 10 races at Sonoma Raceway, we have seen 10 different drivers visit victory lane. There is parity on the roads like never before, and the odds posted at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook indicate just how close things are. Four drivers open as 6-to-1 co-favorites to win Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350.

With 11 races remaining until the Chase begins, several drivers on the bubble will look at Sunday's race as an opportunity to punch a ticket with a win. It's sort of a wild-card race – if a driver runs his lines perfectly throughout the 110-laps, he can make up horsepower deficits experienced at other tracks.

Let's take a look at this week's opening odds, as well as how the drivers have stacked up at Sonoma over their careers.

JEFF GORDON 6/1: He is simply the best all-time with nine road course wins, five of them at Sonoma, where he has a 7.9 average finish in 22 starts. Despite not winning there since 2006, he has maintained a 4.5 average finish in the eight starts since. In addition to hailing from nearby Vallejo and this likely being his final race on his hometown track, he's also in desperation mode with no wins on the season and is trying to get an automatic bid into the Chase with a win. With Marcos Ambrose, Robby Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya no longer in the series and Tony Stewart not his usual self, Gordon is unquestionably 'King of the Roads' again. Back in the days when he held that crown with little resistance from the rest of field, bettors would be lucky to get 5-to-2 odds him. At 6-to-1, he's got a lot of value this week.

KEVIN HARVICK 6/1: He's got a win on the faster Watkins Glen course, but it's been a mixed bag at Sonoma's more technical course that features massive elevation changes. He's averaged a 15.9 finish in 14 starts (3 top-fives) here. Because he's on such a roll this season, anything is possible, but he's a prime bet-against candidate against several drivers at plus-money. Last season, his first with Stewart Haas Racing, he finished 20th at this race.

MARTIN TRUEX JR 6/1: He tasted the sweet Sonoma Valley victory wine in 2013, which remains his only top-five finish in nine Sonoma starts (18.7 average finish). The good news with backing Truex Jr. this week – beyond the fact he’s been fast everywhere this season – is that Kurt Busch run strong in the No. 78 with a fourth-place finish in 2013. Still, not much value at 6-to-1.

KURT BUSCH 6/1: He has the best chance to ruin Gordon's farewell homecoming and grab his third win of the season. He's had top-five finishes with four different cars at Sonoma (No. 97, No. 22, No. 51, No. 78), including a 2011 win, before finishing 12th last year in his first attempt in the SHR No. 41.

AJ ALLMENDINGER 8/1: He got his golden Chase ticket last season by winning at Watkins Glen and has great road-racing skills. But he has just a 19.3 average finish in six Sonoma starts, including two top-10 finishes.

JIMMIE JOHNSON 10/1: His hard work on the roads is a microcosm of what makes him the best overall driver in NASCAR. Like a bad free-throw shooter who works all summer to improve and has instant success the next basketball season, Johnson listened to tips from teammate Gordon and studied the top drivers’ approach in and out of each turn, and taught himself to be efficient. In his first seven starts at Sonoma, he had five finishes of 15th or worse. In his past six starts, he's averaged a 5.5 finish, including a 2010 win. Yes, there is no coincidence the guy has 74 career wins.

CARL EDWARDS 12/1: He's become one of the better road course drivers in the series and grabbed his first win last season at Sonoma. He was also third-place in two of the previous three seasons. The biggest question with Edwards this week is how he'll fare driving a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on the 10-turn layout for the first time. Chances are he'll be very competitive, and 12-to-1 is better than expected. He’ll be attractive at plus-money in matchup props against driver like Harvick or Allmendinger.

Read More Here....complete list of odds from Westgate

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