Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Johnson favored to win 2013 AAA 400 at Dover, Kenseth and Busch close behind

Is it a three horse race, or just a one horse race for the Chase?
LAS VEGAS -- Jimmie Johnson has been installed as the 7-to-2 favorite by the LVH SuperBook to win Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. Should Johnson meet expectations with a win, it would be his eighth career victory on the one-mile high-banked oval.

It would also give him a boost in confidence, as he won at Dover en route to his last two Sprint Cup championships, in 2009 and 2010. His ninth-place average finish over 23 career starts on the track is second only to Carl Edwards (8.6) among active drivers.

Johnson certainly needs some kind of boost this week because the Joe Gibbs freight train doesn’t look like it’s slowing anytime soon. While Johnson has bounced back from a horrific final four races before the Chase with two straight top-five finishes, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch finished 1-2 at both Chicagoland and New Hampshire.

Kenseth has moved to the 6-to-5 favorite to win the Sprint Cup, with Johnson and Busch each at 2-to-1. The only other driver to have won the first two races of a Chase was Tony Stewart in 2011 by, and he went on to win three more time during the Chase and grab his third Cup title.

Johnson should be the overwhelming favorite at Dover, but because of the run Kenseth and Busch are on, as well as their past success on the track, they both come in at 9-to-2 odds to win the race.

Kenseth made his first career Cup start at Dover in 1998 and has won two times on the concrete track known as the Monster Mile. At one point from 2008-12, Kenseth finished fifth or better in eight of nine starts. In the June race, Kenseth led twice for 23 laps, but blew an engine just before 159 of the 400 laps had been completed. It’s apparent that the lengthy testing Toyota and JGR did with their engines during the season has set them up perfectly for the Chase.

Busch led five times for a race-high 150 laps in the June race before settling for fourth behind eventual winner Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon. Busch took an immediate liking to Dover, when, as a rookie, he finished second in both 2005 events. He’s got two wins there, the last coming in 2010.

When betting these races, you should always look at who won the previous race, but in this case, Stewart is out due to injury. Mark Martin will drive the No. 14 car, and is being offered at 75-to-1 odds to win this week. Martin is a four-time Dover winner, and although his last win came in 2004, he has maintained a high level of excellence over his past 20 starts there with a ninth-place average. Only Johnson (8.4) and Edwards (8.6) have been better over the same duration.

Brad Keselowski won this race last year, and like it did with Johnson, Dover served as a gateway for his Sprint Cup title. Keselowski is still looking for his first win of the season, but his low odds of 12-to-1 show how much respect the sports books still have for him. He finished fifth in the June Dover race.

Another winless driver the books show plenty of respect to is Gordon, also listed at 12-to-1. In 42 career starts at the Mile, Gordon has four wins and an amazing 11.3 average finish. His last two runs at Dover, third in June and runner-up last fall, were his best finishes at the track sine his last win there, in 2001. It’s not hard to respect a driver with 87 career wins who still drives for an elite team.

Edwards is listed at 15-to-1 and will be looking for his first Dover win since 2007. In 18 career starts, he has eight top-five finishes. They don’t call him “Concrete Carl” because he’s just okay on concrete tracks.

Read More Here.........LVH Dover and Sprint Cup odds

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