Hard not to like Harvick at NASCAR Texas

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After taking Easter weekend off, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series returns this week for racing at Texas Motor Speedway’s high banked 1.5-mile layout for the Duck Commander 500.

In case you may have forgot about what’s been going in the series over the first six races: Kevin Harvick is absolutely dominating! And it’s likely to happen again this week.

Harvick has had six top-10 finishes in the six races and has average a finish of 2.7, that includes two wins and three second-places. His string of eight consecutive top-2 finishes or better came to end at Martinsville two weeks ago, but that was to be expected because it’s never been his most consistent track.

Harvick now goes to Texas, a place where he’s never won, but his current form on similar tracks suggests he’s ready more than ever to cross the track off his ’things to do’ list.

We’ve seen action already on 1.5-mile layouts at Texas’ sister tracks of Atlanta and Las Vegas and he led the most laps in each. Both tracks have strong similarities to Texas and there really isn’t a reason to suggest he won’t race well.

The only thing that might stop him is if he gets involved in an accident and/or has engine problems, but his chances of getting involved in a wreck are mitigated because he‘s out front leading so much. Like Texas, Harvick came into the Las Vegas event never having won a Cup race there either and led 142 laps before capturing the checkers.

So with the understanding that no one is in Harvick’s class for this race, is there any value in betting another driver to win?

Value may be a strong word to use, but we can at least make a case for a couple.

Jimmie Johnson has won three of the past five Texas races and has four overall. The positive with Johnson is that he won at Atlanta despite Harvick’s dominance. However, 6-to-1 odds certainly isn’t enough to get excited about and holds little ‘value’ considering Harvick’s edge.

Joey Logano has finished in the top-10 of all six races like Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. and won this race last season. He led 85 laps at Atlanta and finished fourth and led 47 laps at Vegas before settling for 10th. At 10-to-1 odds, he might be worth a poke.

Brad Keselowski finished third in the fall Texas race last season, but hasn’t wowed on the down force tracks like he did last season. Even his win at Fontana came with lots of luck involved as his only lap led was the last lap. Logano would be the better choice among the Penske duo.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. grabbed his first career Cup win at Texas in 2000, but hasn’t won there since. However, when looking at his performance on 1.5’s along with Fontana’s 2-mile layout, Junior has been close to Harvick with finishes of sixth or better in all three. He offers the best value among the Hendrick drivers.

Kurt Busch might be the closest to teammate Harvick among all drivers, but you’re only getting 6-1 odds with him. Busch won at Texas in 2009 and the amazing thing about Busch is that even though he missed the first three races, he’s 24th in points.

Denny Hamlin showed lots of speed on the three down force tracks this year and the Gibbs team appears to be getting better. Hamlin swept the Texas season in 2010 and has a 10.8 average finish in 19 starts.

Matt Kenseth is a two-time Texas winner and he’s in the same boat as Hamlin with a team that isn’t as good as Harvick’s, but they’re gaining weekly. Kenseth has a track-best 7.5 average finish at Texas since 2005, a span of 20 races.

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].

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