Saturday, June 2, 2012

NASCAR Betting - Dissecting Odds to Win FedEx 400 at Dover

by Frederic Crespi

Johnson moved to huge favorite after practice (Getty) 
After yet another "impound" race (two practices followed by only one qualifying session), the drivers are set to try and tame the "Monster Mile" at Dover International Speedway this Sunday. We are going to switch it up this week by looking over the LVH (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton) odds to win instead of the Don Best driver matchups.

The LVH is and has been, for quite a while now, the leader in all automotive offerings in Las Vegas. I wouldn't be surprised to see that crew roll up with weekly NHRA odds soon as much as that series is growing.  With that said, let's take a look at the contenders, pretenders and possible sleepers for the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks.

Odds to Win - Contenders:

Jimmie Johnson at 5-2 (or +250):  There is no clearer favorite than this Lowe's Chevrolet this weekend, as their current form and overall track form are very strong coming into this weekend. Take out the complete crap-shoot that Talladega and Daytona are, and Johnson and his crew are sporting an amazing 6.0 average finish over the other 10 races of the season. That would be even lower were it not for that pit stop issue last week at Charlotte as he obviously had a top 5 car in that event. At a track like Dover, it's very tough to play anyone at 5-2, but this 48 bunch is easily the car to beat on Sunday.
Kyle Busch at 6-1:  Seems like this team has been flying somewhat under the radar so far this season with a 12.2 average finish, but that should end this weekend as this 18 crew heads to Dover on the heels of four straight top 5 finishes.  Based on how this team is running and Kyle's equally impressive Dover record, he should be there rubbing fenders with the 48 all race long. Again, at odds this low, it comes down to who you think has a better chance at reaching victory lane. Depending on your monetary outlay, it's possible to play both Johnson and Kyle for a break-even to small profit, but based upon the numbers, 6-1 offers more value in my opinion.

Matt Kenseth at 7-1:  This defending race winner, Kenseth heads to Dover with just as an impressive recent record as both top favorites.  He is right behind Johnson over the last 6 Dover races with a 5.7 vs. 5.0 average finish, and also comes into this weekend with an overall 2012 average finish of 8.1. Kenseth is as steady as they come for sure, and his 2nd place finish at Bristol (concrete track as well) bodes well for Sunday especially after his uncommon 5th place starting position.  It won't be easy to leave him out of the mix, but 7-1 is just not enough.

Greg Biffle at 8-1:  Obviously, Greg Biffle and his entire team have it figured out so far in this season, and head to Dover with yet another very fast race car.  I personally took a poke at 12-1 early in the week, but I see "The Biff" as more of a top 6 car than a winning car at this point. No doubt this team will continue to impress this Sunday, but at 8-1, this has to be a no bet.

Denny Hamlin at 18-1:  I really don't understand this number at all.  I realize that Denny's Dover record is under sub-par, but he is on a tear right now posting  finishes of 2nd, 2nd, 4th and 1st (excluding Talladega) in the last four races. 18-1?? Ok...I'm in for sure on this team on Sunday.

Martin Truex, Jr. at 15-1: Earlier this week with odds available in the 25 to 30-1 range, this 56 team was an automatic play based on season performance.  We all know that this team is on the verge of a win (Kansas?? Ouch..that hurt) but perhaps they are destined to be a top 10 car, get in the chase, and finish 8th the end of the year.  Little brother (Ryan Truex) was so close to winning the Nationwide race earlier today that I really feel Truex, Jr. will be in the hunt late Sunday afternoon. However, for a driver that hasn't won a race since 2007 (at Dover and his only win) 15-1 is only a product of the bad opening number and the risk involved at the LVH.  20-1 or higher should be a play for sure though.

Odds to Win - Pretenders:

Carl Edwards at 9-1:  We all understand Carl's impressive concrete track record including his 6.8 average finish at Dover over the last 6 races. But this team is missing something so far this year, much like Denny Hamlin's team did after losing the title on the final day in 2010.  The "Championship Hangover" is really odd to me especially how good both of Edwards' teammates have been so far this year. Edwards should be closer to 12-1 than 9-1, therefore I cannot include him in my odds to win set.

Jeff Gordon at 10-1:  Gordon finally broke through with a solid 7th place finish at Charlotte last week but still comes into Dover with an average finish of 21.5 so far this year.  His  practices looked solid, but how can you back a driver struggling for top 15 finishes at odds of 10-1? Gordon is a very popular driver (betting wise) but his numbers should be in the 12 to 15-1 range at this point in the season. He also hasn't won at Dover since this race back in 2001.

Kevin Harvick at 12-1:  Harvick starting 6th will surely be a driver to deal with this Sunday, but not in terms of odds to win. Outside of his Phoenix win, this team is basically a top 12 outfit and at 12-1, there is zero value here.  The car looks okay this weekend, but barring any nonsense, look for a finish of 9th on Sunday.

Odds to Win - Sleepers:

Junior a sleeper this week at 25/1 (Getty)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at 25-1:  Yeah...we all know it has been quite a while since Junior visited victory lane (on fuel mileage by the way), but you can't argue that this Hendrick team is running much better than it has in the last two plus years. Without winning, this team still holds a very solid and impressive 8.2 average finish so far this year and while he hasn't finished in the top 10 at Dover in four years, you have to give him a look at this price. Most likely yet another top 10 car, but 25-1 is way too high.

Jeff Burton at 100-1:  Huh? Jeff Burton? He actually has a better average finish so far this season than Jeff Gordon, and his Dover performance is nothing to laugh at either. He was very close in 2010 with two 2nd place finishes followed by two 11th's last year.  At 100-1, this is an automatic play in case something happens late in the race with tire/fuel/pit strategy.

Let's have a great and hopefully profitable Dover Sunday!  Follow me on twitter @FredCnote with any questions or comments.

Frederic Crespi has been in the Las Vegas sports book industry since 1994 and has been making numbers on NASCAR since 2002. 

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