Bud Shootout Betting News and Notes

Bud Shootout Betting News and Notes

Bud Shootout Preview
By Micah Roberts

You can almost smell the sweet scent of burnt Goodyear rubber and Sunoco ethanol fuel mix and faintly hear the rumble of 800 horses under the hood. For almost two months, NASCAR fans have been anticipating the start of the season so they’re able to make those senses become a reality again.

Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway will be the first competitive racing of the season for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. Although this is a non-points race that runs only 75 laps, it gives both the fans and drivers somewhat of a preview to what we’ll see the following week in the Daytona 500.

But this isn’t just a mere exhibition event like we see in baseball’s spring training or pro football’s preseason where veterans go through the motions and rookies try to impress. In this event, the winner grabs over $200,000 in winnings.

What makes it exciting, beyond being our first taste of racing in 2012, is that it’s a short race with two segments making it kind of like a mad dash Saturday night special at our local short tracks. There is an urgency for the drivers to make something happen early, unlike the 500-mile restrictor-plate races where several drivers just fall back to stay out of trouble until the final 10 laps.

And since there’s no points involved, we also get to see drivers be a little more aggressive than they might be while protecting their place in the standings. If a driver wrecks because of a move he made, so what, all it cost him was a little berating from his garage guys who have to fix the car.

Not every driver is eligible to participate, but almost every driver we want to see will be in the race. To be eligible, a driver must have finished in the top-25 in 2011 driver points, or been a past Bud Shootout winner or past Daytona points race winner. That pretty much covers everyone we want to see and keeps the hobos out of their way.

Following the 2011 season, NASCAR implemented several changes to the Sprint Cup car with most of the changes geared at stopping the two-car tandem racing we saw in all four plate races last season. During Daytona preseason testing last month, our first glance at how the changes would run in race conditions, it looked like the changes didn’t work out as much as NASCAR hoped. The fastest way around the track was still going bumper-to-bumper with another driver. The gap in speeds between driving alone and in tandem was almost the same as last season.

In those sessions, there were several star performers beginning with new teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne. Kahne takes over the No. 5 Hendrick Chevy for Mark Martin and will be paired with Gordon as his dancing partner for this week and the Daytona 500.

Clint Bowyer joined Michael Waltrip Racing and will team Martin Truex Jr. for the plate races this season. In one individual session they had the fastest times paired together.

Perhaps the most improbable of drivers who fared well in the testing was Kurt Busch, who was fired from Penske following the 2011 season. In the six preseason test sessions, Busch had the fastest single lap as he was pushed by his reliable friend from last season’s plate races, Regan Smith. Busch is driving the No. 51 James Finch Chevy which has a lot of support from the Hendrick garage.

Busch is easily the best plate racer to never win a points paying plate race, but he did win the Bud Shootout last season and followed that up by winning one of the Gatorade Duels. Between the equipment Busch has for this race and being given a big dose of reality that this may be his final chance at redemption as a driver after burning bridges with Penske and Roush, I think he has a great shot at winning Saturday night.

It also doesn’t hurt that he has juicy 25/1 odds posted on him at the LVH Super Book to make him even more enticing.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #51 Kurt Busch (25/1)
2) #24 Jeff Gordon (12/1)
3) #31 Jeff Burton (20/1)
4) #15 Clint Bowyer (25/1)
5) #5 Kasey Kahne (12/1)

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Budweiser Shootout and Daytona 500 Qualifying Storylines

Saturday night’s Shootout at Daytona without a doubt is the greatest preseason spectacle in sports. While preseason games in most major leagues are training or cut-down exercises, the 75-lap, 187.5-mile Shootout is serious business – with virtually every significant player on the field giving 100 percent from the drop of the green flag to the checkers.

No points are at stake; in its place, the glory of victory leading up to the Feb. 26 Daytona 500.

This year’s 34th Shootout field is comprised of drivers finishing among the top 25 in final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings as well as active past winners of the Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 and Shootout at Daytona. Three-time champion Tony Stewart has won the Shootout three times, most by a 2012 participant. Other Shootout winners entered include Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch.

On Sunday, competitors climb into their Daytona 500 cars for Coors Light Pole qualifying and run qualifying laps to determine the front row positions for The Great American Race and positions in the Feb. 23 Gatorade Duel at Daytona – a pair of 60-lap, 150-mile races that will set the remainder of the 500 field.

NASCAR Media Day gets Speedweeks 2012 started on Thursday during which more than 50 of NASCAR’s stars from all three national series will lay out their 2012 plans before an expected turnout of 300 print, broadcast and online reporters.

Season Starts In Shootout Style

Before the points-paying season gets under way with the Daytona 500, Feb. 26 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX, fans will get to see many of their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series favorites in the 34th annual Shootout at Daytona.

The race distance will again be 75 laps (187.5 miles), consisting of two segments – 25 and 50 laps. Both green-flag laps and yellow-flag laps will count. Between segments there will be a 10-minute pit stop allowing teams to pit to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments.

Finishing last in the 2011 edition of this race, Kasey Kahne hopes to follow Denny Hamlin (2006) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2008) and get a Shootout win in his first race for a new team, Hendrick Motorsports. Defending race winner Kurt Busch will attempt to do the same thing as he moves to Phoenix Racing. Kevin Harvick will go for his third victory in four years in this race, extending Richard Childress' record for Shootout wins to eight.

FOX will televise the Shootout live beginning at 8 p.m. ET. MRN and NASCAR Sirius Radio also will provide coverage.

Must Be In The Front Row

The first two spots in the Daytona 500 will be determined on Sunday as a 10th different driver attempts to take the season-opening Coors Light Pole Award. Hendrick Motorsports has won three of the last four poles.

The pole-winner appears to be due for a victory in The Great American Race. The record for seasons between pole-sitters winning the Daytona 500 is 12 from Cale Yarborough in 1968 to Buddy Baker in 1980 and Bill Elliott in 1987 to Jeff Gordon in 1999. Dale Jarrett is the last pole-sitter to win the 500 in 2000. Will someone step up and win to tie the record or will a new record be set?

Danica Patrick will attempt to become the fourth rookie to win the Daytona 500 pole, following Loy Allen (1994), Mike Skinner (1997) and Jimmie Johnson (2002). If she does so, she'll also become the first woman to win a pole in NASCAR's top series.

Bayne Comes Of Age

Trevor Bayne begins his attempt to become the ninth driver in Daytona 500 history to win more than one 500 and the fourth driver to win back-to-back Great American Races, following Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95).

Bayne, who turns 21 on Coors Light Pole Day on Sunday, will attempt to drive the No. 21 to its sixth Daytona 500 victory, one shy of the record held by the No. 43 and Richard Petty's seven wins.

Just the Facts And More During Media Day 2012

Hundreds of print, broadcast and online journalists will begin descending on Central Florida later this week with many making their first stop at the annual NASCAR Media Day taking place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday outside Daytona International Speedway. More than 50 drivers from NASCAR’s three national series will be available to media. NASCAR’s broadcast partners will provide coverage during the event with audio transcripts, photography and video available online at nascarmedia.com. Off-site media also can follow via Twitter at #DAYTONA500.

Speedweeks Begin Early For Nationwide Title Contenders

Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Elliott Sadler and Kenny Wallace figure to be among the favorites to win the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. Stenhouse could become the first repeat champion since Martin Truex Jr. in 2004-05. While the majority of the NASCAR Nationwide Series contingent won’t be on track until next week, Bayne, Stenhouse, Sadler and Wallace get a head start as they battle for Daytona 500 front row and Gatorade Duel at Daytona starting positions in Sunday’s Sprint Cup qualifying. Each will be looking for a NASCAR Nationwide/Daytona 500 sweep last accomplished by Kevin Harvick (2007). Others who have won the “double” are Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2004), Darrell Waltrip (1989) and Bobby Allison (1988). The DRIVE4COPD300 will be run on Feb. 25 and will air live on ESPN at 1:15 p.m. ET.

Daytona Jewel Missing From Two NASCAR Camping World Truck Crowns

Neither four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck champion Ron Hornaday Jr. nor inaugural titleholder Mike Skinner has won at Daytona International Speedway. Each attempts to remedy that oversight on Feb. 24 when the 2012 season opens with running of the NextEra Energy Resources 250. Hornaday joins Joe Denette’s second-year team in search of a fifth series championship. Skinner will compete in the Daytona opener for Eddie Sharp Racing. They’ll join two-time series champion and Daytona winner Todd Bodine in what’s expected to be a large field. The race will be broadcast live by SPEED at 7:30 p.m. ET. Several NCWTS competitors have entered Saturday’s ARCA Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 including Max Gresham, Cale Gale, Joey Coulter and Paulie Harraka.

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Crash Ends First Bud Shootout Practice
By: Jeff Wackerlin

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A five-car crash ended the first practice session for Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.

The accident happened when Tony Stewart, driving the No. 14 Chevrolet, got into the left-rear quarter-panel of Kurt Busch's No. 51 Chevrolet coming out of Turn 3.

“I was pushing the 51’car and he had to move a little bit, but I’m still the one pushing him so I’m responsible for it," Stewart said. “I don’t think we’re going to get out in the second session. They say they can get it fixed. I feel really confident in our fab shop and we have a lot of really good guys from the shop here at Stewart-Haas. We’ll get this Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevy back together.”

Busch will be forced to a back-up car for the small Phoenix Racing operation.

"These guys have worked really hard to try to prepare as many cars as we can just to prepare for circumstances like this," Busch said. "There is just a lot of hard work and with the limited number of cars that we have, we just don’t need to have wrecked cars. But, thanks to Tag Heuer for jumping into the Shootout. We’ll have our Tag Heuer car ready for tomorrow."

Penske Racing teammates AJ Allmendinger and Brad Keselowski were also swept up in the chain reaction crash and both will also be forced to back-up cars.

"We were all just pushing really hard and trying to find the limits of our cars," Keselowski said. "It was just one of those deals. When everyone is running that tight together and pushing inevitably it happens and you just hope it's not you, but today unfortunately it was for our Miller Lite team."

Allmendinger is making his debut behind the wheel of the No. 22 Dodge.

"It’s not what we want in the first practice," Allmendinger said. "It’s what happens here. It’s back to pack racing to a certain extent. You can see cars just in the pack are already over heating. Everybody is anxious. It’s disappointing. I’ll try to taken the lessons there, understanding what was happening and figure out what we want to do."

Kyle Busch took on damage to his No. 18 Toyota when hit the front of Busch's car after he spun. Jeff Gordon escaped with minor damage on the front of his No. 24 Chevrolet.

Matt Kenseth topped the first practice session with a speed of 201.762 mph. Kurt Busch was the fastest driver in 10 consecutive lap average before the incident.

The final practice was washed out by rain after 12 drivers practiced. Jamie McMurray led that session with a lap of 196.691 mph after completing seven laps.

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Final 2012 Budweiser Shootout Driver Ratings Following All Practices
By Micah Roberts

Budweiser Shootout

Rating    Driver     Odds       Practice 1  Practice 2  Start Pos.  2011 Shootout*

1. Kevin Harvick 8/1             12th           DNP              22nd              7th
Two-time Shootout winner (2009, 2010), using winning car from 2010 Daytona Firecracker.

2. Tony Stewart 12/1              9th           DNP              15th             11th
Three-time Shootout winner, the last coming 2007, and 16 wins overall at Daytona.

3. Jamie McMurray 15/1        4th             1st                   4th              2nd
Shootout Runner-up in 2009 and 2011, third in 2010; using same chassis from 2011 and 2010.

4.  Jeff Gordon 10/1              21st            DNP             14th              6th
Two-time Shootout winner (1994, 1997); finished sixth or better in last four starts.   

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr 10/1      24th           12th                 8th             19th
Two-time Shootout winner (2003, 2008); hasn’t finished better than 11th in last three starts.

6. Clint Bowyer 25/1              10th            DNP              17th             9th
Best finish of ninth last year; had fastest time in one of the Daytona pre-season test sessions.

7. Jeff Burton 20/1                  2nd            DNP              12th             8th
Best finish was fifth in 2001; using chassis from Harvick that ran in three 2011 plates races.

8. Kurt Busch 20/1                 15th            DNP              6th              1st
Won Shootout last season (new team this year); fastest overall in Daytona pre-season testing.

9. Juan Montoya 30/1            23rd            2nd                 25th            20th
Best finish of 10th in 2010; tandem racing with McMurray. Using 2011 sixth-place Daytona 500 car.

10. Kasey Kahne 12/1            17th              4th                19th            24th
Runner-up in 2010; teamed with Gordon in Daytona pre-season testing and worked very well. 

Note: The Budweiser Shootout is a 75-lap non-points race consisting of drivers that finished in the top-25 final standings last season, won a past Budweiser shootout or a past points paying Daytona race.

* Results from last season’s Budweiser Shootout.
Bud Shootout Plays

Even though Kurt Busch was involved in an accident during Friday’s practice, I still think he’s got a great shot of winning this race. He took the least punishment of the five cars involved and won’t have to go to a back-up like the others have to. I also like Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray and Jeff Burton to have a great showing in this race and they all have excellent odds.

The match-up I would go after is Jeff Burton at pick ’em against Brad Keselowski, and not just because Keselowski is using a back-up car -- likely the Daytona 500 back-up car, but more so because I think Burton has a great shot at winning and running up front for most of the race. Of all the match-ups on the board, this one stands out the most.

As with any plate race, the best advice is to look at playing almost all of the match-ups that are showing plus-money. These type of races -- especially a non-points plate race -- are too much of a crap shoot to have anyone favored too much.

Match-up of the week:

JEFF BURTON -110 vs. Brad Keselowski

Odds to win Selections:

Kurt Busch 20/1, Clint Bowyer 25/1, Jeff Burton 20/1 and Jamie McMurray 18/1

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