Chevy Rock & Roll 400

Junior's not going to make it.

Now that we've got that out of the way, can we get down to the business of a championship?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. currently sits 128 points out of 12th place (where Kevin Harvick currently resides). He'd need to pass Harvick or Kurt Busch to get into NASCAR's playoffs beginning next week in New Hampshire, but for that to happen, Earnhardt Jr. would pretty much have to win the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 Saturday night at Richmond and Harvick or Busch would have to completely blow a motor and not be able to get their car back out on the track. It's not likely.

So for the second time in three seasons, the sport's most popular driver will miss the Chase, and with the NFL starting, that's simply not a good thing for NASCAR's television ratings.

Maybe next year, they could just have the playoffs be 20 cars deep?

Last Week: Jimmie Johnson was a nice, easy winner at Fontana last week, giving us our fourth straight-up winning selection in the last six events. And in the head-to-head, we had Carl Edwards over Clint Bowyer, which was also a pretty easy win, as Edwards came on late and Bowyer was never in contention. On the week, we netted a positive 1.59 units on 1.5 units wagered (a 106% return). On the season, we're at a net positive 8.47 units on 37.5 units wagered (a 22.6% return). (Note that if you eschewed the conservative betting pattern we outline below, and simply wagered one unit on every recommendation we give, you'd have won 5.02 units last week on four units wagered, though for the season you'd be up 32.55 units on 100 units wagered (a 32.6% return). Of course, such a betting pattern is riskier on a week-to-week basis.)

Take Kyle Busch (+1000), 1/6th unit. Busch has run Richmond Nextel Cup events five times, and he's never finished worse than fifth place. His finishes go like this: fourth, fourth, fifth, second and second. Without question, statistically speaking, this his Busch the Younger's best track, and he's got no reason not to try and win the race outright. He's completely locked into the Chase, and a victory Saturday night would only increase his standing once the points reset as the playoffs begin. Remember, Busch has also already won a Car of Tomorrow event, at Bristol. Click here to bet Kyle Busch

Take Kevin Harvick (+1100), 1/6th unit. Happy's odds are artificially inflated this week because the Wise Guys don't believe he'll try and win; they think he'll be satisfied just riding around in 10th place, so he can be sure of getting in the Chase. There may be something to that. But if Harvick happens to have a great car halfway through the race on Saturday, he's not going to be able to help contending. Richmond's not really the kind of track where you can just sit there and ride...they don't call it the "Action Track" for nothing. You have to go-go-go, and Harvick's been the best driver at this venue for the past couple seasons; he won this event last fall, and then had the best car here this spring, before crashing into David Ragan in the pits. These odds are really high, so I'm taking a shot that muscle-memory takes over, and Harvick gets close to another Richmond win. Click here to bet Kevin Harvick

Take Denny Hamlin (+500), 1/6th unit. Hamlin's a Richmond kid, so winning here would mean everything to him. He finished second the first time he ran here in a Cup car last spring, and finished third here this spring. He also had the best car in Phoenix earlier this year, but sped in the pits and could never quite catch up; flat Phoenix isn't a terrible approximation of flat Richmond. Hamlin doesn't have the longer odds of my other two picks, but he's a nice bet to get near the front and stay there all night. Click here to bet Denny Hamlin

by Michael Cash - - Email Us

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