Vegas odds favor Dale Earnhardt Jr.

July, 23, 2012
07/23/12
2:44
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Dale Earnhardt Jr.Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesDale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's most popular driver, has gained traction among Vegas oddsmakers.

Take a wild guess whom the Las Vegas oddsmakers list now as one of the top five favorites to win the 2012 Sprint Cup championship.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has earned the respect of the folks in Sin City who want your money. Earnhardt was listed at 8-1 last week by the LVH Super Book. That's a big difference from where he started in the preseason odds. More on that later.

If you put your money on Jeff Gordon or Carl Edwards in a preseason bet at Vegas, you probably consider that wager a contribution to the Nevada economy.

If you were wise enough to place a little hard-earned cash in January on either of the juniors -- Earnhardt Jr. or Martin Truex Jr. -- you still have hope of a big payday coming in November.

It's fun to look back now at the preseason odds for the Cup title, seeing which drivers surprised the bookmakers.

Jimmie Johnson was the championship favorite back in January at 9-2. That's still looking pretty good. Johnson is fourth in the standings and has two victories.

However, Edwards was the No. 2 pick at 5-1. Not so good now. He's outside the Chase cutoff hoping to get in, winless and 11th in the standings.

Gordon was tied for third in the preseason list at 8-1. He's winless and 17th in the standings with seven races remaining before the 10-race Chase begins.

The man beating the odds more than anyone else at this point is Truex. He was 75-1 in January. He hasn't won a race, but Truex is eighth in the standings and likely will make the playoff.

Truex is the only driver in the top 10 who was listed at more than 40-1 in January. And who was 40-1?

That was Dale Jr. Kudos to all those Junior fans who thought enough of their hero to put their money where their motor mouth is after New Year's. He's second in the standings, is tied with Johnson for the most top-10s with 14 and ended his long losing streak last month at Michigan.

Brad Keselowski probably was the best pick back in January. Bad Brad was 20-1. He would join Tony Stewart at the top of the Chase standings if the playoff started today as the only drivers with three victories. Stewart was listed at 8-1 two months after he won his third Cup title.

Of the 12 drivers who have won a race this year, Joey Logano had the worst odds of being a title contender, at 75-1.

And who's the favorite now, a week before the Brickyard 400? The same man who started the year as the favorite. Johnson is 3-1.

Stewart and Denny Hamlin are 7-1 now. Points leader Matt Kenseth is 8-1 with Earnhardt.

Who would have thought that 19 races into the 2012 season Earnhardt would be one of the top five favorites to win the championship?

Obviously not the bookmakers, but they weren't alone.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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