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April 24, 2014

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NASCAR: Riding with Kenseth rewards bettors

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Matt Kenseth and teammates celebrate after he won the NASCAR Auto Club 500 race on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2009, in Fontana, Calif. It was Kenseth’s second consecutive Sprint Cup Series win.

Beyond the Sun

Driving tips to Speedway

SHELBY 427 DRIVER MATCHUPS

Matt Kenseth -110

Jimmie Johnson -120

• • •

Jeff Gordon even

Carl Edwards -130

• • •

Joey Logano -115

Ryan Newman -115

• • •

Kevin Harvick -115

Brian Vickers -115

• • •

Dale Earnhardt Jr. +125

Kyle Busch -155

• • •

Clint Bowyer -115

Kasey Kahne -115

• • •

Tony Stewart +115

Greg Biffle -145

• • •

David Reutimann -115

Elliott Sadler -115

• • •

Mark Martin -110

Denny Hamlin -120

• • •

Reed Sorenson -115

Bobby Labonte -115

• • •

Station Casinos odds; lines subject to change

In December, when odds on which driver would win the Daytona 500 first appeared in Las Vegas, Matt Kenseth of the Roush Fenway Racing team was listed at 22-1.

That price does not indicate a true long shot — after all, a handful of extreme underdogs, most of whom would not even compete in the race, could be found at 950-1 — but it placed Kenseth solidly in the middle of the pack of likely starters, anyway.

After going off at a price of 20-1 on race day, Kenseth won the traditional season opener of the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule.

A week later Kenseth went off at odds of 9-1 before winning the Auto Club Speedway 500 at Fontana, Calif., completing a two-leg parlay of sorts that paid off at 189-1 for any bettors who were riding with him from the start.

Given his hot start, it’s understandable that those relatively juicy odds have vanished as Kenseth tries for his third consecutive victory Sunday in the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Kenseth’s race-week odds of 6-1 to win the race place him in a tightly bunched group of six front-runners on the betting boards in Las Vegas.

Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch figure to enter the race as co-favorites. Each driver is listed at 5-1 at all Station Casinos properties. (As always, odds can and do change by the minute.)

Kenseth is listed just behind those three at 6-1, along with Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon.

Three of the top six drivers — Edwards, Biffle and Kenseth — compete for Roush, whose team has a record six victories in Cup Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Kenseth won in Las Vegas in 2003 and 2004, and Edwards, the 4-1 pre-race favorite at Fontana on Feb. 22, won here last year.

Bettors who study fluctuations in odds the way Wall Street “chartists” track the movement of stock prices will be attracted to Biffle on Sunday. Biffle went off at 18-1 at Daytona, where he finished 20th. He was a 10-1 shot at Fontana, where his car looked strong for much of the race in a fourth-place showing. The 6-1 price in Las Vegas suggests Biffle could be ready to “pop” with another strong outing.

Johnson, who has won three consecutive Cup championships, has had success in Las Vegas with victories in 2005, 2006 and 2007. He is the 4-1 favorite to make it four in a row, according to odds in Las Vegas sports books.

Gordon, who started the 1997 Cup season with two consecutive victories — the most recent time it was accomplished before Kenseth did it this year — was heavily bet in the Daytona 500, with his odds dropping to 3-1 from an opener of 12-1. He placed 13th at Daytona and was the runner-up at Fontana as a 12-1 shot.

Busch placed third in the Fontana race as a 5-1 shot — the third choice behind only Edwards and Johnson — on a weekend he won the Nationwide Series and Craftsman Truck Series races.

Busch is also among the top selections to win the Cup championship at odds of 5-1, just ahead of Kenseth, who opened at 12-1 or even higher depending on the shop, currently at 6-1.

In a clear nod to Busch’s prospects Sunday, two of the shortest-priced exacta wagers available at Station properties on the Shelby 427 include Toyota. The exacta requires bettors to pick the car manufacturer of the drivers who finish first and second — in that order.

Chevrolet-Toyota is the second choice at 7-2, behind the favorite of Chevy-Chevy at 5-6. Toyota-Chevy follows at odds of 4-1. Chevy backers have the likes of Johnson, Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Mark Martin working for them.

In a separate proposition involving the number of the winning car, “even” is a heavy favorite of minus 220 (risk $2.20 to net $1) against odd at plus 180. “Even” players have Kyle and Kurt Busch in their corner, along with a veritable Murderers’ Row of Johnson, Biffle, Gordon, Earnhardt Jr. and Stewart. No Kenseth (No. 17), though.

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