We’re one week removed from the completion of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season where Kevin Harvick won his first career championship.
In two weeks (Dec. 5) the Sprint Cup Awards take place at Wynn Las Vegas, but we’ve already got odds up for 2015, the earliest we’ve ever seen numbers posted for an upcoming season.
Last Monday, the Westgate SuperBook posted their 2015 Sprint Cup odds with Jimmie Johnson as the 9-2 favorite. Then on Tuesday, William Hill posted their odds with Kevin Harvick as their 5-1 favorite and Johnson at 7-1.
The best thing about it all is we have two competing books with vastly different numbers that are going to give great value until bettors eventually bet the numbers into being similar. Westgate and William Hill each offer some of the best value you’ll find anywhere as their theoretic hold for each index is below 30 percent.
Why so early? Why not! It really doesn’t take a lot to put up and if by chance someone wagers on it and takes home a souvenir ticket, then posting the numbers early is a success.
Last season the odds came out at Wynn about two weeks after the final race, which was the quickest turnaround we’ve seen. In prior years December or January was always the month the odds came out.
Is there a risk of putting the numbers up too early until we get more details for the upcoming season? John Avello at Wynn says Harvick winning the title cost his books quite a bit of money.
The main concern for the bookmaker coming into next season is the nearly five dozen changes NASCAR implemented into their rules package, which includes a horsepower reduction from 850 down to 725 and reducing the rear spoiler height from eight inches down to six.
The racing we’ve been used over past seasons with the Generation 6 car is a thing of the past; we likely won’t see any track speed records broken anytime soon. Westgate’s Ed Salmons says he expects the racing to be similar to the the Nationwide series.
I think the biggest thing learned during our first go-around with the Chase format and eliminations is that the best cars aren’t always going to be in the Final Four racing for the title at Homestead. It’s hard to get a past process that’s been embedded in our heads for the past two decades where the best car throughout the season usually wins the title.
That stuff is over now as we kind of have a wild card system in place. I hated when the 1980 Raiders won the Super Bowl as a wild card or the 1997 Florida Marlins won the World Series as a wild card. I was reliving all those emotions as I watched Ryan Newman, who had no wins on the season, finish second to Harvick last week at Homestead.
Under the old system, bettors would never give a driver like Newman a look on the championship odds. For oddsmakers, you simply throw him up at 60-1 and tell the bettors to have fun, knowing he has no shot.
Now, with points not carrying over into each elimination round of the Chase, a championship is up for grabs like never before. Kevin Harvick was acknowledging that fact during a NASCAR press conference on Wednesday.
“You look at Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger and those guys being able to get themselves into victory lane. If you can get that one win and really prepare yourself for the Chase and have a good first few weeks and you have some guys have some problems. You kind of, I guess, you guys (media) have all kind of dubbed the 31 team as the Cinderella story, but there’s a lot of cars in the garage that have that capability of being that Cinderella team, especially when you start talking about momentum.
“When you get the momentum in the sports world, momentum is a huge thing, and you can carry that a long ways,” Harvick continued. “I think it definitely opens the possibility of things – of cars and teams coming from being that dark horse. I guess you could say to being in contention just for the fact of that momentum building and the teams getting better as they go through the year. It definitely opens things up to a lot of people being able to be in the Chase.”
So are we talking 20, maybe 25 drivers that could be in Newman’s situation next year? With all the new changes and reduced testing, we still see more parity than ever.
However, whenever there are new changes, I’ll always side with the team that is most serious about winning and willing to do anything for an edge and that is certainly the case with Hendrick Motorsports
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].