NASCAR rule change gives boost of excitement

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Sprint Cup changes: While the Super Bowl line movement around town was stuck at -2½ for the longest, most boring stretch, LVH Super Book manager Ed Salmons got a boost of excitement thrown his way as the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase rules were announced last Thursday.

The new format emphasizes wins and has a bracket-type tournament for the final 10 races, with a championship game of sorts between four drivers in the final race at Homestead.

“I like the changes. It just makes sense,” said Salmons, who sets the NASCAR odds for the LVH and has a great passion for the sport. “This is like a true playoff now. There isn’t really anything I don’t like about the moves other than not including a road course in the final 10 races. Road course racing is the absolute best type of racing there is in NASCAR.”

At first glance, it may appear some of six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson’s advantage has been mitigated with the new rules. But Johnson’s odds to win his seventh title were not adjusted too much.

“We moved him from 2-to-1 up to 5-to-2, but really, because he gets so much write to win anyway, there is not much reason to adjust. I think the key in this format, the real wild card, is that second stretch of races at Kansas, Talladega and Charlotte,” Salmons said. “That’s going to be the key, and if Johnson is one of the eight drivers then, that next stretch features tracks such as Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix, where no one is better than Johnson.”

If he makes the final race, Johnson will be forced to go for the win for the first time at Homestead, a track he’s only had to coast at over the years because he’s entered the race with a substantial lead in the points race.

The LVH didn’t adjust any other drivers, but will do its standard weekly updating on Monday morning. With wins being the focal point now, the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers appear to have an edge. Kyle Busch may be in a great spot to use his talents to the fullest and win a championship. Denny Hamlin should benefit, too.

Next week: Coverage of the Sprint Unlimited non-points race being run at Daytona and a few drivers who should fare well. I can’t believe we are already talking NASCAR again.

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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