Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Jimmie Johnson favored to win at New Hampshire's 1-mile layout

Jeff Gordon is 7/1 this week at New Hampshire
LAS VEGAS -- The LVH SuperBook has posted Jimmie Johnson as the 5-to-1 favorite to win Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the first of two races run on the 1-mile flat track this season. Johnson's three wins on the season lead the Sprint Cup series. He last won at New Hampshire in 2010, but he's finished seventh or better in five of the past six races there.

While the No. 48 team of Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus has earned the right to be favored for their incredible run over the past six weeks, the next tier of three drivers favored at 7-to-1 might present better value just because of how they've fared on the similar tracks of Phoenix and Richmond this season. While New Hampshire looks nothing like the other two, the set-up requirements have proven over the years to be similar which has seen several drivers dominate a season between the six races on the three tracks.

One of those drivers at 7-to-1 is Kevin Harvick, who, in 2006, won four times between the six races on the similar tracks we're talking about. It was his last win at New Hampshire, but all indications from his win at Phoenix on March 2 and his 11th-place run at Richmond on April 26 show that Harvick should be considered just as much a favorite as Johnson to win Sunday, and maybe even more.

He led a race-high 224 laps at Phoenix and 23 laps at Richmond. The writing is on the wall this week: he's going to lead some laps at New Hampshire and when looking to wager on a race, that's all you can ask for other than getting the win. You simply want the chance to be one of the few drivers up front late in the race.

Over the past 20 New Hampshire races, no one has had a better average finish than Jeff Gordon at 8.6. He's the second driver listed at 7-to-1 odds. You have to like what Gordon has done all season, especially at Phoenix and Richmond where he is one of three drivers to finish in the top-5 in each. At Richmond, he led a race-high six times for 173 laps before settling for runner-up.

Brad Keselowski, like Gordon, also finished in the top-5 at Phoenix and Richmond and is also 7-to-1. He's been knocking on the door of a New Hampshire win for the past three seasons, finishing sixth or better in four of the past five, including a career-best second-place in the fall of 2011. He led 114 laps at Richmond before finishing fourth. He was third at Phoenix.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 8-to-1 and followed by 2006 New Hampshire winner Kyle Busch at 10-to-1, but the driver that offers the best value on the board is Joey Logano at 12-to-1. Logano won his first career race at New Hampshire in 2009, but his rain-shortened win there isn't what presents great value this week. It's all about what the Penske Racing program has provided for him on these types of tracks, just like his teammate Keselowski. He is the third driver to have top-5s at both Phoenix and Richmond this season. At Phoenix, he led 71 laps before finishing fourth and then at Richmond he took the checkers, despite Gordon and Keselowski having better runs.

Earnhardt Jr. was second at Phoenix and seventh at Richmond and will be looking for his first career win at New Hampshire. Kyle Busch was ninth at Phoenix and third at Richmond, but was second in both New Hampshire races last season.

A few long shots to take notice of this week are Carl Edwards (30-to-1) and Ryan Newman (40-to-1). Edwards has never won on the 1-mile track, but has been traditionally strong at Phoenix and finished in the top-10 at both Phoenix and Richmond this season. Newman has a couple New Hampshire wins, the last in 2011, and was seventh at Phoenix and eighth at Richmond.

Until we see the final practices on Saturday, which we'll have a full report on after they've run, looking at Phoenix and Richmond offer the best handicapping strategy heading into the week -- even better than past New Hampshire races. The date from the two similar tracks is still fresh on the crew chiefs' note pads and if they were good on one, they'll likely be good on the other. Seven of the drivers that finished in the top-10 at Phoenix did the same at Richmond, and two of the drivers that didn't make the list were Johnson and Harvick. That's a pretty consistent trend and it's usually just as strong every season.

However, it's not always so concrete or simple as just looking at Phoenix and Richmond as Brian Vickers' win from last season can attest. The one driver that could break through like Vickers did last season is Denny Hamlin who is a two-time winner at New Hampshire. Hamlin was anything but special at Phoenix and Richmond, tracks that he normally runs well at. Over 16 races at New Hampshire, he's averaged a ninth-place finish. He's 12-to-1 this week.

Read More Here.........LVH odds to win at New Hampshire

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