First odds posted for 2014 Sprint Cup championship

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It’s one week into our NASCAR withdrawal period and some of you may be a little edgy. But at this point, we all have to remember that the 2014 season really isn’t all too far away.

And as if to remind us of that very fact, the first odds to win next year’s Sprint Cup title have already been released by the William Hill sports books in Nevada.

According to the Sporting News, the newly-crowned six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and his 2013 title rival Matt Kenseth are atop the first list.

Johnson is listed as the favorite for 2014 at 3-to-1 odds, while Kenseth sits at 11-to-2 odds – a fair reflection of their solid respective seasons.

Next up is Kyle Busch, who has his title bid derailed at Kansas but hung tough with four Top-10s in the final six races to claim fourth in the championship at season’s end.

“Rowdy” has been placed at 13-2 odds by William Hill, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. right behind him at 7-1 odds after putting together a fine post-season stretch of his own following his blown engine in the Chase opener at Chicagoland.

Rounding out the Top 5 is Jeff Gordon at 10-1. The four-time champ’s big win at Martinsville catapulted him into the title picture with three races left, but a wreck at Texas forced his “Drive For Five” to continue into 2014.

Other notables include Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and the returning Tony Stewart each at 15-1 odds; rookie of the year Ricky Stenhouse and Austin Dillon both at 75-1; Kyle Larson at 150-1; and Danica Patrick at 250-1.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.