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

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski