Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Harvick a huge favorite at Phoenix this week

Kevin Harvick has won 3 of the last 4 at Phoenix
LAS VEGAS -- Due to his desperation and recent domination at Phoenix International Raceway, Kevin Harvick has been installed as the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook's 3-to-1 favorite to win Sunday's Quicken Loans 500. Because he's such a massive favorite, only three other drivers have been placed within single-digit odds.

Just to put into perspective how rare low odds like 3-to-1 are for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, let's take a look at some drivers over the past 20 years that had similar odds.

Jeff Gordon was routinely at a 5-to-2 favorite on road courses at the turn of the century. Dale Earnhardt was at 3-to-1 odds or less during Dale Earnhardt Incorporated's stellar run in restrictor-plate races from 2001-04. Then there's Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville, where he was around 3-to-1 odds during a stretch of winning five of six races from 2006-09.

Based on Harvick's recent history of winning the past two at Phoenix -- and three of the last four -- his low odds are quite understandable and the ultimate sign of respect for his skills on the track. Then when adding in his last-place Chase standing -- 18-points behind the leader, he's almost in a position where he has to win to advance to next week's championship race at Homestead.

Harvick has led 714 laps and won five races in 23 career starts at Phoenix. He's been one the best at Phoenix at all stages of his career from the Winston West, Camping World Trucks and Nationwide series. This one-mile low-banked layout has almost been like a home-field advantage for the Bakersfield, CA native because it's been the track he's ran more laps at than any other over his career.

Another driver that almost needs to win to advance in the Chase is Brad Keselowski, who is listed at 5-to-1 odds along with Jeff Gordon. The two drivers got into a scuffle last week at Texas and there could be some carryover this week. Gordon is a two-time winner at Phoenix over 31 starts while Keselowski has never won. However, Keselowski did have a career-best third-place finish in the March race.

The edge that Keselowski has is that he won at New Hampshire and Richmond this season, two tracks that require similar set-ups as Phoenix. He has also shown everyone that he is a money ballplayer when the pressure is on, whether it's winning the 2012 championship or advancing further in the Chase by winning at Talladega. Not many of the drivers like him, but bettors do because he goes all out for the win in any situation.

Jimmie Johnson is a four-time winner at Phoenix and comes in at 8-to-1 odds. Just when some might have thought the team was in 2015 test-mode after being eliminated from the Chase, he goes out and wins at Texas -- his first win since June. His last win at Phoenix was in 2009, but he's finished sixth or better in seven of the nine Phoenix races since. In 22 career starts, he's averaged a 6.3 finish.

Joey Logano is next at a 10-to-1 price, and while he's never won at Phoenix, his Penske Racing team has been dialed in on these types of tracks. Like teammate Keselowski, he also won at New Hampshire and Richmond. In the spring Phoenix race, Logano finished fourth, right behind Keselowski. He may try to play it safe because he only has to finish 11th or better to advance, but his car just might be too good to slow down.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a two-time winner at Phoenix, but his last came in 2004. He was runner-up to Harvick in March and has been fifth or better over his past three starts.

Denny Hamlin loves low-banked tracks like Martinsville and Richmond, and he's shown to be fond of Phoenix as well as he has eight top-5 finishes in 18 career starts, including a 2012 win. He's had poor finishes his past two starts there, but all he has to do is finish 11th or better to advance.

Carl Edwards is a two-time winner at Phoenix, including last spring. He finished eighth in the March race, which was his best finish this season between the five races at similar tracks of Phoenix, New Hampshire, and Richmond.

Read More Here........Phoenix odds to win

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