California betting expected high

Apr 17, 2003 3:45 AM

The next NASCAR event will be the weekend of April 26-27 at California Speedway in Fontana where you can expect Roush teammates Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth to be the favorites.

Wagering for the California race at Las Vegas books should be higher than an average NASCAR weekend because of I-15 travelers going to the race. With Jeff Gordon winning last week at Martinsville, the list of consecutive different winners to start the season stretches to nine.

Dale Earnhardt Jr’s second place finish coupled with a 22nd by Kenseth closed the gap in the chase for the championship to 51 points. Should Junior win the title, it would not be a good thing for some local books.

"We opened Dale Jr at 15-1 to win the championship as the seventh choice," said Boulder Station’s Kelly Airgood. "Just prior to the season, we started to get tons of action on him. Junior was dropped as low as 5-1 by the time the Vegas race came.

"Every year we see this with Junior where the loyal Earnhardt fans just make a wager for sentimental reasons," Airgood continued. "At 7-5, now he looks to be the driver to beat. We took a stance based on his past inconsistent performances knowing we would get action on him."

The Palms’ Fred Crespi saw things different from the start when he opened Earnhardt with odds similar to favorites Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon.

"Each and every year, he gets better and better, especially on the short tracks," Crespi said. "We know we can count on strong performances on the Superspeedways, but he made tremendous strides in several areas last season, most of all maturity.

"I’ve already heard him this year talk about racing for points and being more conscience of the big picture," he said. "That will be the difference for him, but don’t think Gordon and Kenseth are going to sit and marvel because we’re only barely past the quarter mark of the season. Someone like Gordon hasn’t come close to doing what he’s capable of and yet he’s third in points."

The parity of today’s NASCAR is unmatched when comparing any other era. Only 275 points separate the points leader from 10th place.

IRL points to Indy

There will be a lengthy break in the Indy Racing League schedule as teams prepare for the Indianapolis 500 on May 25. Surprisingly, there are only 32 entries thus far. It doesn’t appear that NASCAR drivers Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon, and John Andretti will attempt the double duty of driving the 500 and Charlotte’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

Stewart cites a strain on his championship team for not going to Indy. Andretti and Gordon feel they are too far behind in the process of getting a car. The first practice sessions begin May 4. The story from now until the green flag drops will be Michael Andretti, who will be retiring immediately following the Indy 500.

Andretti will likely be the favorite coming in. In the past, the CART high priced teams from Penske and Ganassi have dominated with three consecutive wins. This year should be different and more wide open than ever. Andretti’s team green was second in last year’s controversial finish and the team looks even better this season. Odds should be available soon.

Formula 1 controversy

Many bookmakers again breathed a sigh of relief that they aren’t bothered with the headaches of booking Formula 1. A week after declaring Kimi Raikkonen the winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix, they finally got it right and gave back the win to Giancarlo Fisichella.

Though most books’ wagering rules are explained on the odds sheet, it still creates disdain for bettors when they have the winner only to see the governing body come back later declaring someone else the winner.

The premeditated pass by teammates Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello that determined the win on the last lap of a race last season axed the booking of this series. Station Casinos books still offer matchups for the race but are clear about not offering odds on anything involving the Ferrari teams.