NASCAR Betting - Johnson and Junior Continue To Make Gains Toward #1

NASCAR bettors know that it's already shaping up to be a more interesting race for the Sprint Cup, and now the five-time champion, Jimmie Johnson, along with the seven-time most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., continue to make gains toward the #1 spot in the standings. Johnson is +400 to win the Cup, although Kyle Busch is currently the favorite at +300. Johnson is a co-favorite with Busch to win this week's Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 (aka Crown Royal 400) at Richmond International Raceway this Saturday at 7:30 PM ET (televised by FOX). They are both +500 in the NASCAR betting odds this weekend.

NASCAR Betting

Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400

(aka Crown Royal 400)

Richmond International Raceway

Henrico County, VA

Saturday, April 30 -- 7:30 PM ET

TV: FOX

NASCAR Betting

To Win Sprint Cup Championship

Carl Edwards               +450

Clint Bowyer                +2500

Dale Earnhardt Jr        +600

Denny Hamlin              +1200

Greg Biffle                   +1500

Jeff Gordon                  +1200

Jimmie Johnson          +400

Juan Pablo Montoya     +2000

Kevin Harvick              +500

Kurt Busch                   +2000

Kyle Busch                   +300

Mark Martin                 +3000

Matt Kenseth                +900

Ryan Newman             +3000

Tony Stewart               +1200

Field (Any Other Driver)   +4000

Jimmie Johnson is almost at the point where he has shot to the front of the pack in the race for the Sprint Cup lead. Johnson's win at the Aaron's 499 at Talladega is the latest in a string of great performances that are making the other drivers in NASCAR's biggest series very depressed. Johnson has now been among the top three finishers in four of the last seven races. Will that kind of consistency continue at Richmond, where he is priced at +500 in NASCAR betting? Well, he has three wins there - a sweep of the two races in 2007 and again in the fall race in 2007. Last time out, he had a third-place finish. Over the course of his career, his Richmond Driver Rating is 10th best of the drivers who will be starting their engines on Saturday night.

Johnson is still five points behind Carl Edwards, who has been sixth or better in five of his last six efforts. Edwards, who has two poles, started out strong at the Daytona 500, where he was the runner-up (and took the top spot in Sprint Cup points with Trevor Bayne declared for Nationwide) and hasn't really let up since. No one has as many top ten finishes as he does (six). And he is not only +600 in NASCAR betting to win at Richmond, he is +180 to gain a top three finish.

There was a lot of movement in the standings after Talladega, aside from Johnson, who moved up two spots to #2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued his bid to be the "Comeback of the Year" driver with a fourth-place finish, which makes it three top tens in a row. He is third on the list, up three spots, and is +600 in the NASCAR odds to win the Sprint Cup. He has won three times at Richmond, but his average finish there over the last four races is 28.5. So at +1800 this week, you may have to think twice.

The biggest gain of the week was made by Kevin Harvick, who began the week in ninth place in the standings and didn't qualify well at Talladega, as he started 38th on the grid. But his fifth-place finish, which came just a couple of weeks after back-to-back wins in the Auto Club 400 and the Goody's Fast Relief 500, has him in fourth place. He is the only Sprint Cup driver who has posted two victories this season, and he is +800 to win this week in the NASCAR betting.

Matt Kenseth turned out to be the big loser of the week; the Wisconsin native dropped five places to #8 on the Cup points list. After winning the Samsung Mobile 500, he got in an accident at Talladega and officially ran 36th. he has not done better than tenth place at Richmond since 2006. There doesn't seem to be any value at all with him at +1500 in the NASCAR betting odds at that venue.

Kyle Busch may be a dominant figure on the Nationwide circuit, where he has four wins in eight starts, but he is an example of what happens when you can't continue to put together strong results on the Sprint Cup trail. Kyle (the +300 favorite in NASCAR betting for the Cup) won the Jeff Byrd 500, then finished third in his next two races, but was 16th in the Samsung Mobile 500 and was knocked out after 144 laps two weeks ago, and so two races after he had the lead in Sprint Cup points, he is down to sixth place.

The good news for him is that he is, to say the least, a force to be reckoned with in Richmond, winning two of the last four races there, and coming fifth or better ten out of twelve times, which has produced an average finish of 5.3 for his career. If he can keep his car running, he is likely to be up near the lead for most of the way, and his NASCAR betting odds this week reflect that to an extent, as he is +500 to win and +175 to finish in the top three.