Oddsmakers like Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s chances in Sunday’s race at Las Vegas

Leave a comment

We’re not saying that his fans are going to go out and bet the farm, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. has some pretty good odds heading into Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

So say some of the bigger oddsmakers in the business.

After winning the season-opening Daytona 500 and finishing second in last Sunday’s race in Phoenix, Junior comes into Sunday’s dash in Sin City as among the top picks to win – or at least do very, very well.

According to SportingNews.com, William Hill, one of the biggest bookmakers in the world, is rather bullish on Earnhardt, giving him 8-to-1 odds to win.

But there’s a caveat: Earnhardt is not the favorite to win Sunday.

That honor, according to Hill, goes to six-time Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson at 7-1 odds, followed by Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick and last year’s winner at Las Vegas, Matt Kenseth, both at 15-2.

Then comes Junior at 8-1.

By comparison, Vegas Insiders has Johnson as a 5-1 favorite, followed by Kenseth and Kyle Busch (both at 7-1), a big surprise in picking Kasey Kahne (8-1) and finally Junior, Harvick, 2012 Sprint Cup champ Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin, all at 10-1 odds.

Hill also likes Keselowski’s chances, scoring him at 10-1 odds as well as Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.

One thing that both Hill and Vegas Insiders agree on is the ultimate longshot: Danica Patrick.

Hill gives Patrick 200-1 odds to win Sunday, while Vegas Insiders isn’t as kind, making Patrick a 500-1 pick to win.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Verizon confirms IndyCar title sponsor role exit after 2018

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As perhaps expected, Verizon has confirmed Friday it will end its role as Verizon IndyCar Series title sponsor following the end of its fifth year in 2018.

Reports surfaced shortly after this year’s IndyCar season finale at Sonoma Raceway that Verizon was re-evaluating its role within the series.

Indeed, as it was before becoming title sponsor in 2014, Verizon will remain a partner with Team Penske despite not also carrying the series title sponsor role.

In a statement, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles thanked Verizon for its support in this overall series role.

“Verizon has been a super sponsor and will continue to be so through all of next season. We appreciate that they reached their decision in a timely way so that we can thoughtfully and deliberately go back into the market for 2019,” Miles said in a statement, via Sports Business Journal.

Roger Penske also issued a statement, also via SBJ, saying, “We want to thank Verizon for the support they have provided the IndyCar Series and the role they have played as they helped us grow the sport as the title sponsor for the past five years. Verizon has helped the series reach new fans through their world-class activation and technology, including the Verizon IndyCar Mobile App. While they will no longer be the Series Title Sponsor after 2018, it is exciting they will still be in the sport through their relationship with our organization.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series has built a wave of momentum over the last few years with its competition level, parity and enthusiasm for some revived events, with Gateway Motorsports Park and Road America standing out as highlights being brought back after an extended hiatus.

The good news for INDYCAR (sanctioning body) is that there’s a new Dallara universal aero kit that’s been busy with testing the last few months and is now in the hands of manufacturers for manufacturer testing, and the series announced long-term extensions with Dallara, Chevrolet, Honda and Firestone earlier this year. New series champion Josef Newgarden has also been busy in a number of media events and appearances since the Sonoma season finale.

With this confirmation, INDYCAR has a new entitlement sponsor to find and a new TV contract to sort, with both existing contracts up after 2018.