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A month since Jimmie Johnson claimed his fifth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship and nearly two months before the season opener, the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book has posted odds on the Daytona 500 and the 2011 Season Championship before anyone else in the world.

Despite coming from behind to win the Championship in the final race last season, Johnson is still a considerable 5-2 favorite to win his sixth straight title. His machine-like performance year after year in the crunch, with what figures to be the same team for 2011, makes him the easy choice.

Unlike years past, Johnson’s odds gap between his closest contenders isn’t as large. Denny Hamlin had the champ on the ropes, but couldn’t close it out in the final round. No one has stood toe-to-toe with the champ like that in any of the five title runs which is why Hamlin is the 6-1 second choice. Coming into the 2010 season, Hamlin was 10-1.

Also coming in 6-1 is Carl Edwards, who closed out 2010 with two straight wins after going 70 races without one. The Roush-Fenway team came on strong in the second half of the season and found the horsepower that had been eluding them on tracks that the team had typically done well at over the years.

We saw last season how momentum carried over from the previous season with the Childress teams coming within 39 points of beating Johnson with Kevin Harvick. Edwards and the other Roush teams could be in a similar situation for 2011.

Harvick, who will have Budweiser on the hood of his No. 29 Chevy, is 8-1 along with Kyle Busch. The only negative affect that could slow Harvick from repeating his 2010 form is that Childress has brought on a fourth team with Paul Menard. Perhaps it’s a mere coincidence, but none of the four Childress cars made the Chase in 2009. When Childress eliminated one team for 2010, all three drivers made the Chase.

Kyle Busch is the driver many point to as the one who could overtake Johnson. The main component in Johnson’s success is something Busch has yet to figure out, consistency.

Busch had three wins in 2010 with 10 top-five finishes, but couldn’t put together strong runs for long stretches at a time like Johnson – a story that has seemed to plague Busch for his entire career.

Jeff Gordon, 10-1, has gone 65 races without a win, but his consistency gives him immense respect with the Hilton. Last season he was fourth in the series with 11 top-five finishes.

Coming into this season, Gordon has quite a few changes that could lead to improvements. DuPont will be the primary sponsor for just 14 races, but in the Hendrick Motorsports crew shuffle, Gordon gets Alan Gustafson who worked with Mark Martin and Kyle Busch in the past.

An interesting 40-1 long shot choice is Jamie McMurray, who had three wins with 9 top-five finishes in 2010. The horsepower is there, as is McMurray’s ability, but much like Busch, couldn’t put together a string of good runs.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 50-1 gets an early boost with a fresh face overseeing the No. 88 car. Steve Letarte takes over crew chief duties. At no time in Junior’s career has his preseason championship odds been as long.

The main positive for the No. 88 team this year is sharing garages with Johnson’s team. Ever since Johnson came into the series, it was Gordon’s team that shared garages with the No. 48.

Letarte won’t even have to change his office with the switch and has a great relationship with Chad Knaus. Because of information being shared more due to the close proximity, look for Junior to have his best season while at HMS.

The Hilton Super Book has become the clear leader in Las Vegas for auto racing odds. Not only do they offer a multitude of weekly propositions for each Cup race, but carry the weekly Nationwide and Camping World Series. In addition to NASCAR, the Hilton also offers weekly Indy Racing and Formula-1 odds, a package of odds that no sports book in the state offers. 

Odds to win 2011 Sprint Cup

Jimmie Johnson 5/2
Denny Hamlin 6/1
Carl Edwards 6/1
Kevin Harvick 8/1
Kyle Busch 8/1
Jeff Gordon 10/1
Greg Biffle 10/1
Tony Stewart 12/1
Matt Kenseth 12/1
Clint Bowyer 18/1
Kurt Busch 18/1
Mark Martin 20/1
Joey Logano 30/1
Jeff Burton 30/1
Juan Pablo Montoya 30/1
Kasey Kahne 40/1
Jamie McMurray 40/1
Ryan Newman 50/1
Brian Vickers 50/1
David Reutimann 50/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 50/1
A.J. Allmendinger 100/1
Martin Truex Jr. 100/1
Paul Menard 100/1
David Ragan 100/1
Brad Keselowski 300/1
Marcos Ambrose 500/1
Field (All Others) 100/1


Odds to Win 2011 Daytona 500
Carl Edwards 15/1
Kyle Busch 8/1
Jeff Gordon 12/1
Greg Biffle 30/1
Kevin Harvick 6/1
Tony Stewart 8/1
Matt Kenseth 30/1
Clint Bowyer 12/1
Kurt Busch 15/1
Mark Martin 20/1
Joey Logano 20/1
Jeff Burton 25/1
Juan Pablo Montoya 20/1
Kasey Kahne 30/1
Jamie McMurray 10/1
Ryan Newman 30/1
Brian Vickers 30/1
David Reutimann 30/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 12/1
A.J. Allmendinger 40/1
Martin Truex Jr. 30/1
Paul Menard 30/1
David Ragan 30/1
Brad Keselowski 50/1
Marcos Ambrose 601
Regan Smith 100/1
Bobby Labonte 100/1
Field (All Others) 25/1

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