Oddsmakers pick Marcos Ambrose as Sonoma favorite

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There’s nothing like putting a little pressure on Marcos Ambrose.

Okay, make that a LOT of pressure now.

It’s tough enough for Ambrose as he’s doing his best to make this year’s expanded 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup.

But now Ambrose has even more pressure on his shoulders after the Las Vegas Hilton sports book, one of the biggest in Sin City, has anointed the Australian native as the man to beat in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

According to a report and video on SportingNews.com, the LVH has made Ambrose a 5-1 pick to win Sunday’s race.

Being picked to win is a pretty lofty selection for a guy who has never won at Sonoma (although Ambrose has two career Sprint Cup wins at the other road course on the schedule, Watkins Glen).

What’s more, Jeff Gordon (five wins) and Tony Stewart (two wins) are the winningest active drivers at Sonoma.

Ironically, while there have been nine different winners in the last nine races at Sonoma, including first-timers Kurt Busch in 2011, Clint Bowyer in 2012 and Martin Truex Jr. last season, Gordon and Stewart dominated before that stretch, combining for seven wins in the previous nine starts there (before 2005).

Kevin Harvick has knocked on victory’s door numerous times at Sonoma, always to come up short. But because his car has indeed been so freaky fast this season, he’s a potential contender to win for the first time at the serpentine track.

Six-time and defending Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson, who has won three of the last four Cup races, has only one win at Sonoma, but the momentum he brings in could potentially lift him to his second career there – and 4th win in 5 starts, if he has his way.

Drivers with VERY long odds to win include Dale Earnhardt Jr. (60-1), Denny Hamlin (60-1), rookie Kyle Larson (75-1), road course ringer Boris Said (100-1), Danica Patrick (300-1) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (500-1).

Ouch, 500-1, really? That has to hurt that the oddsmakers have so little faith in Stenhouse on the Sonoma road course.

Still, for now, Ambrose is the man to beat, according to LVH.

 

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Here’s a complete look at the Sonoma odds offered by the LVH and The Linemakers and SportingNews.com:

Marcos Ambrose 5-1

Jeff Gordon 6-1

Kevin Harvick 7-1

Jimmie Johnson 7-1

Kurt Busch 7-1

Tony Stewart 8-1

Brad Keselowski 12-1

Joey Logano 12-1

Kyle Busch 12-1

Kasey Kahne 18-1

Clint Bowyer 18-1

Jamie McMurray 30-1

AJ Allmendinger 30-1

Carl Edwards 35-1

Martin Truex Jr. 35-1

Brian Vickers 35-1

Greg Biffle 50-1

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 60-1

Denny Hamlin 60-1

Paul Menard 60-1

Ryan Newman 60-1

Kyle Larson 75-1

Matt Kenseth 75-1

Justin Allgaier 75-1

Austin Dillon 100-1

Boris Said 100-1

Aric Almirola 300-1

Casey Mears 300-1

Danica Patrick 300-1

David Gilliland 500-1

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 500-1

Field 100-1

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.