If you like to analyze the NASCAR odds, you know it's been a rough year for Kasey Kahne so far, but the budding star says he's ready to go after a procedure on his knee, and mark martin, past age 50, refuses to go quietly as the drivers line up for the Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 (also known as the Crown Royal 400) at Richmond International raceway on Saturday.
The race begins at 7:30 PM ET and will be televised by FOX. Kahne is +3000 to win it in the NASCAR odds; Martin is +3500 and is also a -110 underdog in a head-to-head qualifying matchup against Denny Hamlin.
Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400
(aka - Crown Royal 400)
Richmond International Raceway
Henrico County, VA
Saturday, April 30 -- 7:30 PM ET
To Win Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400
- Carl Edwards +600
- Clint Bowyer +1500
- Dale Earnhardt Jr +1800
- Denny Hamlin +700
- Greg Biffle +2000
- Jamie McMurray +3500
- Jeff Burton +3000
- Jeff Gordon +700
- Jimmie Johnson +500
- Joey Logano +3000
- Juan Pablo Montoya +3000
- Kasey Kahne +3000
- Kevin Harvick +800
- Kurt Busch +1500
- Kyle Busch +500
- Mark Martin +3500
- Matt Kenseth +1500
- Ryan Newman +3000
- Tony Stewart +800
Kasey Kahne says he feels fine after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus this week and says he will not miss the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 at Richmond. This came after minor surgery on both knees that took place in the off-season.
This hasn't been the easiest of starts for Kahne (+3000 in the NASCAR odds this week), who is in sort of a "bridge" season on loan to Red Bull Racing before he bolts over to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012 to replace Mark Martin.
He is currently in 18th place, having finished in the top ten three times. He was 37th at the Aaron's 499, but in his mind, and that of the team, it should have been much better. Teaming with Brian Vickers (priced at +7000 in this week's NASCAR odds), the other Red Bull driver, he fell victim to a chain reaction after Kurt Busch tangled up with his own teammate, Brad Keselowski.
Kahne wound up with his car on fire, but did indeed get it together enough to finish the race.
Kahne had previously gotten involved in a more serious crash at Martinsville in the Goody's Fast Relief 500, as he slammed into the wall after being clipped on his rear end by Martin Truex (+5000 in NASCAR odds this Saturday). The incident was serious enough that it delayed the re-start of the race by 15 minutes.
Kahne won at Richmond in 2005, and had three top ten finishes there subsequent to that.
DENNY HAMLIN -120
MARK MARTIN -110
The guy Kahne is going to be supplanting next year, Mark Martin, is not ready to go off quietly into the sunset just yet. Martin, who is a 30/1 shot in NASCAR odds to win the Sprint Cup, is coming off not only his best start of the year, but his best finish as well, as he qualified third at Talladega and wound up 8th. There has been a certain amount of speculation on Martin's future plans - too much for his taste. Last year there was talk that he might be making an exit from Hendrick Motorsports a year early, which was actually kind of insulting.
If there is time to make a move, it is now. Martin, who is +3500 in this week's NASCAR odds, was 20th and 25th in his two races at Richmond last year, but he had registered four straight top-five finishes there before that. He's won only once at the track, but his Average Finish of 12.2 is solid, and he has 27 top tens, along with four poles.
One driver who has had a very disappointing season is Denny Hamlin (+1200 in NASCAR odds to win the Sprint Cup), who has just not been able to carry any of the momentum of his runner-up effort in the 2010 Sprint Cup (with eight wins) into this season. Hamlin has been in the top ten just once in eight races this year, and is mired in the 17th spot in the standings.
We know we've said this before, but Hamlin is in a position where he can make up some ground, because Richmond has been an extremely friendly track for him, which it should be, because it's like a homecoming for him. Hamlin won once in 2009 and against last fall at Richmond; his Driver Rating at the venue is the best in the field (119.8), as is his Average Green Flag Speed and Average Running Position. That's why he is among the favorites this week in the NASCAR odds at +700, although Martin's four poles look good to us as the dog here.
JAY"S PLAY: MARK MARTIN (-110) ***
(Graded on a scale of 1-4 stars)