Denny Hamlin won’t race Saturday night, but his impact is already being felt.
Next to Martinsville, Richmond might be Hamlin’s best track. In 14 career starts, Hamlin has two wins and nine finishes of 10th or better.  With Hamlin still injured and unable to drive Saturday night, the numbers have made a major shift.

Kyle Busch being the favorite isn’t a surprise. Being below 5/1 is. As an extension, Matt Kenseth,  Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer have all seen their short track numbers get smaller.
What’s also happened is bigger numbers for bigger names, a sign that the really smart people see a small number of people who they think can win. Greg Biffle hasn’t been 25/1 all year. Ryan Newman hasn’t seen 50/1 in years, and this is a track where he excels. There’s definitely an opportunity to step up in Hamlin’s absence Saturday night.
I stepped up last week, now down just 96 fake dollars after Matt Kenseth’s win. Here are this week’s fake picks for the sake of entertainment alone.
15 fake dollars Jimmie Johnson at 8/1
Johnson has led more laps than any driver on short tracks in 2013. He triples his next closest competitor. Instead of odds getting better, they got worse for Johnson this week. I’ve made worse fake wagers.
10 fake dollars on Clint Bowyer at 10/1
With Hamlin sidelined, Bowyer has the best second average finish among active drivers at this track. Bowyer also won here last year and has done well on short tracks this year.

10 fake dollars on Kasey Kahne at 10/1
Kahne seems to be lurking a bit, but there’s no reason for it. Kahne has the best average finish on short tracks this year and a win. 
10 fake dollars on Brad Keselowski at 10/1
Stone Cold Blue Deuce excels on short tracks and hasn’t won in 2013. I’ll connect the dots.
5 fake dollars on Tony Stewart at 20/1
Stewart has stunk on short tracks this year. But he’s among the top five in average finishers here over his career and has three wins at Richmond. Plus Tony Stewart is 20/1. That’s crazy
So too might be avoiding Kyle Busch at Richmond with Denny Hamlin out of the picture in a race sponsored by Toyota. Here’s what The Spread thinks. Enjoy night racing, and insert random catchphrase here. 
For the year:
  • Two wins
  • Seven Losses
  • Down 96 fake dollars
Kyle Busch 9/2
Denny Hamlin 6/1
Matt Kenseth 7/1
Jimmie Johnson 8/1
Kasey Kahne 10/1
Brad Keselowski 10/1
Clint Bowyer 10/1
Carl Edwards 12/1
Jeff Gordon 12/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr 12/1
Kevin Harvick 12/1
Tony Stewart 20/1
Greg Biffle 25/1
Martin Truex Jr 25/1
Mark Martin 30/1
Ryan Newman 50/1
Joey Logano 50/1
Ricky Stenhouse 60/1
Kurt Busch 75/1
AJ Allmendinger 100/1
Danica Patrick 100/1
Jeff Burton 100/1
Aric Almirola 100/1
Jamie McMurray 100/1
Marcos Ambrose 100/1
Paul Menard 100/1
Juan Montoya 100/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 25/1