Even though the season-opening Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s answer to the Super Bowl, Sunday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway is more akin to a true Super Bowl atmosphere.
And what says Super Bowl more than the wagering line, where NFL fans feel they can get a piece of the action monetarily.
Ditto for NASCAR’s season finale. Virtually every major sports book is placing odds on which of the four drivers – Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano or Denny Hamlin – ultimately winds up being the 2014 Sprint Cup champion.
And a first-time championship for any of the four finalists, at that.
One of the biggest odds makers in Las Vegas, TheLinemakers.com, has made its picks, per SportingNews.com.
And to no major surprise, The Line makers are picking Kevin Harvick as a 3-2 favorite to win the championship in Sunday’s race.
In the overall 35 races to date, Harvick has 4 wins, 13 top-5 and 19 top-10 finishes, including 2 wins, 5 top-5 and 6 top-10 finishes in the first nine races of the Chase.
As for Homestead, Harvick has 13 starts, five top 5s, 11 top 10s and an average finish of 8.1.
Harvick, Logano and Newman have never won at Homestead, but Denny Hamlin has. Twice, in fact.
But for whatever reason, Hamlin at 9-2 has the longest odds of the four drivers. Hamlin also has arguably the best pit crew of the four, yet he’s still looked at as the longest of the long shots.
In the overall first 35 races of 2014, Hamlin has 1 win, 7 top-5 and 17 top-10 finishes. He’s where he’s at in the Chase with excellent consistency in the first nine playoff races: 1 top-5 but also 6 top-10 showings.
Hamlin’s average finish in the first nine Chase races is 12.4.
At Homestead, Hamlin has 9 starts, 2 wins, 4 top 5s, 5 top 10s and an average finish of 11.2.
In-between, Logano is the second-best pick at 9-4 odds.
Logano has 5 wins, 16 top-5 and 22 top-10 finishes in 2014, including 2 wins, 6 top-5 and 7 top-10 finishes in the Chase. He also has the best average finish of all Chase drivers of 5.3.
Homestead has not been a very good track for Logano: In five career starts on the 1.5-mile, 20-degree progressively banked, paper-clip shaped track, has just one top-10 finish and an overall average finish of 20.8.
Newman, who has the potential to become the first driver in NASCAR history to win a championship without even winning a single race in the same season, is going off at 7-2 odds, according to The Line makers.
Thus far this season, Newman has 0 wins, 4 top-5 and 15 top-10 finishes, including 2 top-5 and 5 top-10 finishes and an average finish of 9.8 in the Chase.
Newman also has not had a stellar career performance at Homestead. In 12 starts, he has just 1 top-five and 4 top-10 finishes, with an average finish of 17.0.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski