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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‘One and Only’ Kyle Larson wins Outlaws opener at Knoxville Raceway

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Paul Arch/World of Outlaws
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The magic of dirt racing wins for Kyle Larson continued Thursday night at Knoxville Raceway, where he scored his third consecutive World of Outlaws victory at the famed half-mile track to open “The One and Only.”

After starting 10th, Larson sliced through the field and passed pole-sitter Logan Schuchart to lead the final eight laps in the No. 57 of car owner Paul Silva.

“Just an awesome race,” Larson said after earning $10,000 for his second consecutive NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory (after winning at Pevely, Missouri, last Saturday), his sixth Outlaws victory this season and 14th of his career.

LARSON ON NASCAR‘I’d love an opportunity if it came’

“I was able to track Logan down and hit the bottom really well in (turns) 1 and 2 and got a run on him.  It felt like I needed to take advantage of that before we got to heavier traffic and slid him and felt some contact. So, glad to see him not in the wall or anything like that. Just, hard work there. Heartbeat is up again.”

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Kyle Larson scored his sixth World of Outlaws victory Thursday (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).

It was the fourth Knoxville victory this year for Larson, who swept a World of Outlaws doubleheader weekend June 12-13 at the Sprint Car Captial of the World. He has more than 30 victories this year in sprint cars and midgets.

The One and Only continues Friday night with another $10,000 feature race that will set the starting lineup for Saturday’s Brownells Capitani Classic, which pays $50,000 to win.

The event is the Outlaws’ richest purse of 2020 and subs in for the annual Knoxville Nationals, which was canceled for COVID-19 concerns. Larson, a two-time Knoxville Nationals runner-up, has said winning The One and Only would be on the same as Knoxville’s signature event because of its tough three-day format.

Through the first of three nights, Schuchart and Larson are tied for second in The One and Only points standings, which factor in qualifying, heats, dash and feature races. Aaron Reutzel, an All Star Circuit of Champions stalwart who finished third Thursday, leads with 430 points.

A crash in Thursday’s 25-lap feature eliminated past Outlaws champions Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz after Cory Eliason spun in front of Sweet in Turn 1 to start the wreck, which also collected Sweet’s teammate, James McFadden. Sweet and Schatz finished outside the top 20, which moved Schuchart into the points lead for the 2020 season.

Schuchart still seemed slightly miffed after finishing second to Larson.

“As the race went on, I felt like I wasn’t hitting my marks as good,” he said. “I would have liked to of had a little bit better of a race with Kyle there. I wish his slide job was a little better there, but he’s got a reputation to live up to. That’s where you let other people make the rules and maybe we’ll get him next time.”


RESULTS

NOS Energy Drink Feature (25 Laps) – 1. 57-Kyle Larson [10]; 2. 1S-Logan Schuchart [1]; 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel [2]; 4. 2-Carson Macedo [24]; 5. 41-David Gravel [6]; 6. 21-Brian Brown [7]; 7. 71-Spencer Bayston [3]; 8. 18-Gio Scelzi [15]; 9. 12N-Joey Saldana [5]; 10. 5-Ian Madsen [19]; 11. 17A-Austin McCarl [21]; 12. 1A-Jacob Allen [11]; 13. 7BC-Tyler Courtney [16]; 14. 7S-Jason Sides [20]; 15. 24-Rico Abreu [22]; 16. 4-Terry McCarl [13]; 17. 2KS-Brooke Tatnell [18]; 18. O9-Matt Juhl [23]; 19. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [25]; 20. 83-Daryn Pittman [9]; 21. 11K-Kraig Kinser [17]; 22. 15-Donny Schatz [8]; 23. 26-Cory Eliason [4]; 24. 49-Brad Sweet [12]; 25. 9-James McFadden [14]; Lap Leaders: Logan Schuchart 1-17, Kyle Larson 18-25; KSE Hard Charger Award: 2-Carson Macedo[+20]

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Kyle Larson celebrated with his family and team after the first night of The One and Only (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).