Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Harvick favored at Richmond, Johnson given 18-to-1

Bettors haven't seen 18-to-1 on Jimmie Johnson for some time.
LAS VEGAS – While Jimmie Johnson is tied for the Sprint Cup lead with four wins this season and has won three times in his career at Richmond International Raceway, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has opened him at 18-to-1 odds to win Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400.

You might have just done a double-take – that’s the highest price at which Johnson's been offered for a non-road course race since his rookie season in 2002.

It only took 10 races into Johnson's rookie year for him to win his first race, as he took the checkers at Fontana at 20-to-1 odds. He earned early respect with six top-10 finishes through the first nine races in a Hendrick Motorsports-powered car. Since then, he’s won 73 more races, six Sprint Cup titles and has been one of the most consistent drivers in NASCAR's modern era.

But when setting odds to win each week’s race, the sports book has to look at the driver’s current form. Twelve races have passed since Johnson's last win, May 31 at Dover, and he's had only two top-five finishes over that span. The entire Hendrick team has struggled, with Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon still trying to find their first win, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s only win coming in a restrictor plate race at Daytona in July.

Meanwhile, Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske Racing have taken their games up a notch by combining to win nine of the past 10 races. They are peaking at the right moment – Saturday’s race is the 26th and final of the regular season before the Chase for the Championship begins next week at Chicagoland.

Here’s a driver-by-driver breakdown of Saturday’s race at Richmond, including opening odds posted at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

KEVIN HARVICK (9/2). Three-time Richmond winner with a 10.7 average finish in 29 starts, but hasn't won a race since Phoenix in March. What makes him the favorite this week is his remarkable consistency on this type of track this season. Similar set-ups are required for Phoenix, Richmond and New Hampshire because all three are flat and nearly the same size, and no one has been better than Harvick on these layouts in 2015. He grabbed the win at Phoenix, was runner-up at Richmond and finished third at New Hampshire.

BRAD KESELOWSKI (5/1). It may seem like an off year for Kes since his only win came in March at Fontana, but he's anything but off right now, riding an eight-race streak of top-10 finishes. He won this race last year and is trending upward as his odds suggest.

KYLE BUSCH (6/1). He leads active drivers with four wins and a 7.3 average finish at Richmond. This is his type of track, and while it seems like an eternity since he won his fourth race of the season (it was actually just six races ago), he may have been playing it safe to secure one of the 16 Chase positions. He didn't clinch his spot in the top-30 in points until last week at Darlington. Because of his win at New Hampshire and history at Richmond, he’s the driver to beat this week.

JOEY LOGANO (7/1). He won the Richmond spring race last season and was fifth in April, leading 94 laps. He also finished fourth at New Hampshire. He's on the best roll in NASCAR right now, as he’s won two of the past four races and has nine top-five finishes in his past 12 starts.

Read More Here.......Complete list of Richmond odds on The Sporting News

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