Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Richmond Betting Preview: 2015 Toyota Owners 400

Richmond be the most exciting brand of racing in NASCAR
Man is this going to be fun!

There's nothing quite like a cool spring evening of NASCAR racing under the stars of the old Capital of the Confederacy on Richmond’s flat ¾-mile layout where speeds are just fast enough to wow while also slow enough to make the drivers feel comfortable about sending messages to their competitors.

I have several tracks I like equally, but I must say this is my favorite track in the Sprint Cup series because it is so unique and creates drama. It used to be Bristol, but that track certainly isn’t the same as the thousands of empty seats verified on Sunday.

Your best bet to finding the winner in Saturday night’s race is look back at what happened in the March 15 race at Phoenix, a track that requires a very similar set-up. Who dominated, who led the second and third most laps and then you might want to look at some recent history. That has generally been the recipe for success at the trio of flat tracks at Richmond, Phoenix and New Hampshire over recent years.

Kevin Harvick led 224 of the 312 laps and won for the fourth straight time at Phoenix.Brad Keselowski led 52 laps and finished sixth. Joey Logano led twice for 35 laps and ended up eighth while Jamie McMurraystarted third and finished second and led the only other lap. Kurt Busch finished fifth. That’s right, only four drivers led and Harvick led way by a bunch, again.

Because of Phoenix and also what Harvick has been doing all season, he comes in as the easy favorite again which is a weekly theme now on any type of track. He may have finally finished outside of the top-10 with his 38th-place finish at Bristol, but he still led a race high six times for 184 laps. He's not a machine, and finally showed some human tendencies and got bit by some bad luck. Still, six top-two finishes in eight starts isn’t bad.

Twice over Harvick’s career, he has won at both Richmond and Phoenix in the same season. In 2006 and 2013 he swept Phoenix and then won at Richmond in each. He’s a three-time winner in 28 starts compared to Phoenix where he’s won seven times. Obviously his edge is a little greater at Phoenix, but he’s still rated a notch above everyone else and then it drops to Keselowski, Logano and Kurt Busch.

Last season it was Keselowski winning in the spring at Richmond at Logano in the fall. The third and final flat track used as a comparison with Richmond and Phoenix is New Hampshire’s one-mile layout and the Penske boys won both of those too. Harvick won at all three in 2006. Throughout each of those track’s history, there have been several guys doing the double-double between the three tracks which is why we’re going to pay close attention to the Phoenix race. History routinely repeats itself here. If fast on one, surely they’ll be fast on the other.

Good long shots to maybe take a shot with this week are the Ganassi teammates McMurray and Kyle Larson. McMurray not only finished second at Phoenix, but he also finished fourth in two of the past three Richmond races.

Jeff Gordon hasn't won at Richmond since 2000, and only has two for his great career, but he was runner-up in both races last season, as well as in the fall of 2012. He should offer decent value in match-ups and could be worth a shot in odds to win at 14/1.

Even though Harvick has won only twice in eight races this season, his dominance factor has scared me off odds to win wagers on a comparative level from years past. I used to regularly take five to six drivers with odds to win, but I also haven't had a driver rated this high against against everyone below him since Jeff Gordon in his magical 1998 season.

While Jimmie Johnson was winning lots of races and championships over the past decade, the gap between he and the his closest competitors wasn't nearly as great as it it with Harvick this year. And while I think Logano probably offers the best chance of someone else cashing other than Harvick, his odds aren't attractive enough to close the gap on Harvick's edge. So until I see some more teams step up their game and broaden the odds to win pool with some better prices, match-ups will continue to be my primary wagering activity in NASCAR.

Read More Here....Top-5 Finish Prediction

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