Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Jimmie Johnson favored to notch his ninth Dover win this week

Johnson won his eighth career Dover race last fall in his 24th start -- a 3/1 ratio. He's 9/2 to win this week 

LAS VEGAS – Purely on the basis of eight career wins at Dover International Speedway, Jimmie Johnson might have been listed as the favorite this week, even though he didn’t have a single win through the first 11 races of the season. But after winning last week's Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, where he was strong during practices and then led a race-high 10 times for 164 laps, it's safe to say all is well for the No. 48 team.

The LVH SuperBook certainly thinks so, as Johnson opened as the 9-to-2 favorite to win Sunday's FedEx 400. He’s followed by the consistently fast Kevin Harvick at 5-to-1 odds.

Johnson won last fall’s Dover race and has won at least one of the two Dover races in four of the past five seasons, including a sweep in 2009. That type of success rate on the high-banked one-mile concrete oval almost makes 9-to-2 look generous.

Harvick has yet to win at Dover during his career while driving for Richard Childress Racing, but has finished 15th or better in his last nine starts there, including a career-best second place in spring 2012. With the power his new Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet has been producing all season, he could be in for a career day.

There is no other track quite like Dover on the circuit, but some comparisons can be made to Bristol's half-mile layout. Both are concrete and high-banked, and we've seen a few drivers over recent years (since the first Bristol repave) fare well on each during the same season. One of those drivers is Kyle Busch, who comes at 7-to-1 odds. Busch won at Dover in 2008 and 2010, and has a 12.8 career average finish over 18 starts. He's finished seventh or better in seven of his past nine starts.

Carl Edwards won the Bristol race in March, and his 10th-place average finish at Dover is second best among active drivers, behind Johnson. Edwards won at Dover in 2007, when he also won at Bristol. Because of his love for the concrete (some call him ‘Concrete Carl’), Edwards has lower odds than usual at 15-to-1 this week.

Jeff Gordon has four career wins at Dover, but none since 2001, the year he won his fourth and most recent Sprint Cup championship. His 2014 points-leading campaign has been his best overall performance since then, and it’s why his odds are so low at 8-to-1 despite his lengthy Dover drought.

With Johnson's win Sunday, there have now been 10 different drivers with wins this season, and Harvick and Joey Logano have each claimed two. The Dover race marks the halfway point of the regular season before the 16-driver Chase field is set, and there are six tickets still waiting to be punched.

The top candidate to join the party among the non-winners so far is Matt Kenseth, who currently sits second in points. Kenseth won a series-high seven races last season, but didn't look like a legitimate candidate to win a race this year until last week at Charlotte, where he finished third. He's fought hard for all of his quality finishes, and odds of 8-to-1 show him plenty of respect at Dover.

While with Roush Fenway Racing, not many were better than Kenseth at Dover. He won twice (2006, 2011), and over one stretch from 2008-12, he was fifth or better in eight of nine races.

The Roush Fenway Fords have traditionally done well at Dover, and while Edwards is a strong candidate to fare well this week, two-time winner Greg Biffle (30/1) and Ricky Stenhouse (100/1) might provide the best long-shot value. Biffle had similar numbers to Kenseth at Dover, while Stenhouse is driving the No. 17 car that Kenseth had so much success with at Dover.

Stenhouse also gets high consideration because of his career-best second-place finish at Bristol in March. Comparing Dover and Bristol is a stretch, but it's the closest thing we have to go off, and there has been a strong correlation between the two in recent years. We can also lump Brad Keselowski (8/1) in that group because he won on both tracks in 2012.

Read More Here.......LVH Dover odds to win

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