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Viewing Kyle Busch as a dark horse pick at just about anytime and at any place since he joined Joe Gibbs Racing 12 NASCAR Cup Series seasons ago would win you more laughs than money.
But there are two reasons why the two-time and defending series champion should be considered a dark horse pick for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.
Those two reasons are Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin.
Quite simply, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Harvick and Gibbs’ Hamlin have dominated the season. Between them, they have won 14 of the 27 races in 2020. They have racked up series-leading 18 and 15 top-five finishes respectively.
Over the years, they have made it clear that they are tough to beat at Richmond as both have won three times, and each has an average finishing position of 9.something.
Beat the favorites
Harvick and Gibbs have been installed as co-favorites by the BetMGM sportsbook at +400.
Two other drivers — Martin Truex Jr. of the Gibbs team, and Joey Logano of Team Penske — are next in line according to BetMGM at +500 and +700. Both have two wins at Richmond’s .75-mile oval and both have won races this season.
Kyle’s case at Richmond
You have to go five-deep to find Busch, who sits at +800. There are other books who list No. 18 as an even longer shot Saturday night.
But stats and the gut make him a pretty fair dark horse, money-making proposition this weekend.
Busch has owned Richmond. His six career victories there are by far the best among this weekend’s starting field and only Richard Petty and Bobby Allison have more among all-timers. Busch’s 18 top-five finishes are most among the current drivers.
Busch has won two of the last
four races in Richmond – those came in a two-race sweep in 2018 – and he
finished second a year ago.
The Las Vegas native – who is just 35 years old – has an incredible average finishing position of 6.79 in his 30 starts at Richmond.
Understanding Busch’s long odds
HIs +800 is likely based on the stunning fact that Busch, who has 56 career Cup wins and 97 more in the Xfinity Series and 59 in Trucks – has yet to win a race in 2020.
He has had fast cars, as evidenced by five podiums and seven wins by teammates.
Finally, the guy who may be the best wheel man in the sport is just plain due. At +800, he looks very attractive.
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