Oddsmaker: Jimmie Johnson favored over Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon to win 2015 Sprint Cup crown

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Two days after Kevin Harvick celebrated his 2014 Sprint Cup championship at the annual NASCAR Awards Banquet, Las Vegas bookmakers have already set odds on who they think will be the 2015 Cup champ.

One of the biggest oddsmakers, Bovada, is going all in on Jimmie Johnson to rebound from a disappointing season to win what would be a record-tying seventh Cup championship in 2015.

Bovada puts Johnson at 5/1 odds.

But that’s not to say Bovada doesn’t think Harvick can make it two in a row in ’15, either.

Bovada picks both Harvick and Jeff Gordon as having the second-highest odds to win the Cup crown at 6/1.

Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski (7/1) and Joey Logano (8/1) are the next highest picks, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth, both at 10/1 odds.

Bovada expects a strong season from Carl Edwards in his first campaign with his new team, Joe Gibbs Racing. In fact, Edwards and new teammate Kyle Busch are both 12/1 odds, while the other JGR driver, Denny Hamlin, is at 14/1.

There are some surprises when it comes to longshots, both good and bad.

Odds are good for Kyle Larson, who begins his second full Sprint Cup season at 18/1 odds.

Odds are not so good for several veteran drivers, however.

Three-time champ Tony Stewart comes in at 22/1 odds, followed by Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch (both 25/1).

Ryan Newman gets the least amount of respect from the Bovada stats crew. Even though Newman finished second in the championship to Harvick this season, he’s a distant 33/1 odds for 2015.

From that point, it just goes further downhill, with Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray all at 40/1, Austin Dillon at 50/1, Brian Vickers at 100/1 and AJ Allmendinger at 200/1.

Among those that did not make Bovada’s list: 2014 Chase qualifier Aric Almirola, Danica Patrick, Richard Petty Motorsports newcomer Sam Hornish Jr., Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., David Gilliland, Trevor Bayne and David Ragan.

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Five things to watch for in Bommarito Auto Group 500 at Gateway

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There have been five different winners in the last five weeks of the NTT IndyCar season and driver that kicked off that streak in Elkhart Lake is in desperate need of a victory to help close the points gap to the leader. After being involved in the Lap 1 accident at Pocono Raceway last week, Alexander Rossi sits 35 points behind Josef Newgarden. Rossi’s two victories this season have come on road courses.

This week’s Bommarito Auto Group 500 the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is the third race on this track since IndyCar first revisited it in 2017. Newgarden took the checkers in 2017; Will Power grabbed the glory last year. Gateway also hosted races from 2001-2003.

Here are some of the storylines to watch this Sunday:

  1. For most of the drivers in the field, this will mark only their third time to race at Gateway, but two drivers were around in 2003 when IndyCar visited this track previously. Scott Dixon finished 15th in that race. He found the handle when Indy returned in 2017 to finish second and then third last year. Tony Kanaan was second in 2003; unfortunately he went the other direction and has not scored a top-10 at Gateway since.
  2. If one is looking for perfection on this track type, Simon Pagenaud is the only driver to sweep the top 10 on ovals in the past two years. In his last 10 starts on them, he has garnered an average finish of 5.2; his last five attempts have been sixth or better including a win in this year’s Indy 500. Pagenaud finished third at Gateway in 2017 and was fourth last year.
  3. The top two drivers in the points standings should also challenge for a top-five this week. Rossi was perfect alongside Pagenaud on ovals until his accident last week at Pocono with a sweep of the top 10 and seven top-fives in his last nine races. Newgarden also has nine top-10s and a worst of 13th on ovals in the past two years.
  4. Don’t count Dixon out of the points battle yet. While he currently sits 52 points out of first, Dixon is the hottest driver on the circuit with a current streak of five top-fives to his credit including his victory at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. His oval record is a little spottier with two runner-up finishes and two 17th-place finishes in the last four races.
  5. Last week’s first-lap carnage ended Rossi’s top-10 streak at seven, but one other driver was able to sneak through and extend his. Graham Rahal will vie for his ninth consecutive top-10 this week, but that success is questionable in light of his Gateway record. Rahal finished 12th in 2017 and was barely able to crack the top 10 in 10th last year.

See More: IndyCar championship contenders seeing fortunes rise and drop

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