Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

Daytona 500 Preview
By Micah Roberts

Coming into last week’s Budweiser Shootout there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the garage area to how all of NASCAR’s rule changes would affect restrictor-plate racing as we’ve become to know it.

The top priority: stopping two-car tandem racing.

Mission accomplished!

In the process of taking away radio communication between drivers, using a smaller radiator and creating less rear down force with a smaller spoiler, the cars looked like they were racing on ice. Any car that got touched in a bump draft on their right rear bumper, a practice commonly used well before the tandem racing came about, was sent sailing out of control. And with tandem racing gone, cars are now drawn into packs. When one car gets sent flying, it takes five to eight cars with it as well.

Perhaps this is what NASCAR wanted, or maybe not. Most NASCAR fans don’t like to an abundance of crashes, opting for strategy to play out while keeping all the good cars on the track. However, massive wrecks make for good telvision and can bring in the fringe fan, who might have been blown away by the excitement of seeing Jeff Gordon’s car roll over eight times in highlights. Maybe that type of excitement captures a new audience, which makes the ratings go up, sponsorship dollars go up, which ultimately results in NASCAR’s upcoming TV contract going up.

Regardless of NASCAR’s motivation, the Daytona 500 has enough clout to carry itself on its own just because of the brand. This is NASCAR’s Super Bowl, the highest paying race of the season where everyone has the same amount points coming in and everyone has a chance to win. It was just last season that a rookie, Trevor Bayne, won and paid out odds at 100-to-1 at Las Vegas sports books.

This year’s race has another rookie, but not just your average kid coming out of now where rookie. No, this rookie has a massive following already and she’s been the story of speed weeks, even more so than all the changes NASCAR implemented. Danica Patrick makes her Sprint Cup debut this week on NASCAR’s biggest stage.

Patrick is making a bigger splash than when Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his full-time Cup debut in the 2000 Daytona 500, and it's hard to remember anyone coming close to each of them in recent history. NASCAR couldn’t have had been handed a better marketing tool for their sport that crosses over into several different markets, age groups and genders. She’s a gorgeous woman who drives fast cars, what more could any regular guy want?

But Patrick isn’t just a pretty faced marketing scheme like we saw with Anna Kournikova in tennis. She’s a good driver who has shown vast improvements in her skills the last two seasons while driving part-time in NASCAR’s Nationwide series. She’s not the gimmick female driver making headlines because she’s the first or second woman to drive in the Daytona 500 -- she’s the third.

No, that‘s not her.

Patrick is as tenacious a driver as there is and as she gets more comfortable, we’ll see her go off on some guys who try to teach her some NASCAR 101. The biggest part of her maturation process comes from the equipment she’ll be driving. Unlike female drivers from the past, Patrick will have a ride and crew comparable to all the top teams. Her boss is last year’s Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart and her crew chief is Greg Zippadelli, who teamed with Stewart at Joe Gibbs racing for two season titles.

Now the question is, where will she finish Sunday? The LVH Super Book has her listed at 50-to-1, down from the opener of 100-to-1, showing just how popular she is already at the bet windows.

We know the magnitude of the race won’t affect her because she finished fourth in her first Indianapolis 500 in 2005 and her tentativeness in the race may work to her advantage. If she stays back out of trouble, she could avoid all the wrecks that are sure to come. In last week’s Bud Shootout, only 10 of the 25 drivers finished on the lead lap. Running three-wide in the lead pack resulted in bad news for most of the drivers.

Because of the equipment and leadership of Zippadelli, she’ll have a chance of staying on the lead lap all race which should result in at least a top-20 finish. What happens in the final 10 laps is anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t count her out like many are quick to say.

That’s kind of the theme for this entire race: it’s anybody’s race to win. In this type of racing, especially with it being a new learning experience for everyone, you really can’t count anyone out which makes it the toughest race of the year to handicap.

Here’s a look at the top contenders:

Kyle Busch (10/1):
His legendary status just went up a couple notches with his win in the Budweiser Shootout last week. After getting booed in pre-race ceremonies, even his biggest detractors had to roar with approval after his win, which shows how much he's truly respected. He saved his car on two separate occasions Saturday night that might have resulted in a lost day for other drivers, but to not only finish the race, but then win it? Are you kidding me....this guy is flat out awesome which makes some of us in Las Vegas very proud.

Now the question is whether he can win the Daytona 500. History says no. Only four drivers have won the Budweiser Shootout and Daytona 500 in the same year with the last coming in 2000 by Dale Jarrett who was the only driver to do it twice. He had a great pre-season test at Daytona and showed Saturday that he has no problem racing on ice.

Jeff Gordon (12/1): He's one of the four drivers to win the Bud Shootout and Daytona 500 back-to-back, but that came in his glory years back in 1997. The thing Gordon has going for him is that this type of pack racing is a blast from the past where Gordon dominated plate races. No one in NASCAR has the type of restrictor-plate experience, or wins, Gordon has and he should move use that past experience to move in and out of the pack better than most in this one.

Kurt Busch (30/1): He may be from an underfunded team, but don't count him out. He was lurking in fourth position late in the Bud Shootout and looked poise to make a winning move before being taken out by the element of the race. He knows the plate races are his only chance to get a win this season and will do all he can to finally get a points-paying race win at Daytona. With the help of Hendrick powered motors and his experience, he'll be right there near the end.

Jamie McMurray (20/1): He looked to have the strongest car Saturday night with an ability to maneuver in and out of the packs better than everyone else. He's a past winner of the Daytona 500 and has had his best performances in plate races. McMurray may be the best value on the board.

Tony Stewart (12/1): He has 16 wins at Daytona, but still hasn't conquered the Daytona 500. The only thing missing from his racing resume is not winning the 500 which makes us remember the lengthy delay Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt went through before they finally won. Stewart didn't send Kyle Busch's bold late pass into the wall last week like he did two years ago when the young gun tried to take a points paying race from him, but if the same situation arises again, Stewart will do anything he can to win the race with little consideration of possible fines.

Top-5 Finish Position:

1) #24 Jeff Gordon (12/1)
2) #51 Kurt Busch (30/1)
3) #1 Jamie McMurray (20/1)
4) #14 Tony Stewart (12/1)
5) #18 Kyle Busch (10/1)

14) #10 Danica Patrick (50/1)

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Daytona 500 Storylines

Throw back. Old school. Retro. Use whatever moniker you like, and it’d fit this past weekend in NASCAR.

First you had the Shootout at Daytona, the annual fan-favorite preseason race at Daytona International Speedway. After an offseason – and more – of testing and fine-tuning, pack racing is back. For the most part, drivers abandoned the two-car tandem for the big packs of old. It made for a wild race, and a sparkling finish. Kyle Busch’s slingshot move on defending series champion Tony Stewart gave him his first Shootout victory. The margin of victory of .013 seconds was the closest in the race’s history.

Now fast forward to Sunday morning. As competitors put the finishing touches prior to Coors Light Pole qualifying, a major announcement hit the mailboxes of media everywhere. Next season’s eligibility for the Shootout had been released. Pole winners from 2012 and past winners of the event would be locked in, eligibility rules mirroring those from 1979 to 2008. It was a return to the event’s roots.

Shortly after, at 1 p.m., Daytona 500 qualifying began. Carl Edwards, taking advantage of a powerful engine and an opportunistic qualifying draw, laid down a lap of 194.738 mph. It was the fastest Daytona 500 pole winning lap since 1999 – more than a decade ago.

Last weekend set the strong foundation for the second and final week of Speedweeks. Up first is the two Gatorade Duel races, a final chance for those not already locked into the Daytona 500 to make the show.

On Friday night, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opens its season at Daytona in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at 7:30 p.m. on SPEED.

On Saturday afternoon, the stars of the NASCAR Nationwide Series run their season-opener at Daytona in the DRIVE4COPD 300 at 1:15 p.m. on ESPN.

And, of course, the 54th annual Daytona 500 culminates Speedweeks. NASCAR’s biggest race starts at 1 p.m. on FOX.

99 Has No Problems On Pole Day

After turning the fastest lap in Daytona 500 pole qualifying since 1999, Carl Edwards will attempt to become the 10th driver to win the Daytona 500 from the pole and first since Dale Jarrett in 2000. Edwards finished second last year in The Great American Race and had a ninth-place finish in 2010.

Edwards leads an all-Ford front row, as Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle captured the second spot). A win would be the manufacturer's third Daytona 500 victory in four seasons and the second in four years for Roush Fenway Racing, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this season.

Roush Fenway Racing’s next victory – be it in Saturday NASCAR Nationwide race or in the Daytona 500 – would be the team’s 300th in NASCAR national series competition.

The first and second starting positions have accounted for the most wins in Daytona 500 history with nine and seven respectively, combining for 30 percent of the victories in the previous 53 events.

Bayne Locked In And Loaded For Great American Repeat

With the fastest time among drivers not in the top 35, Trevor Bayne locked himself into the 54th running of the Daytona 500 along with Tony Raines, David Stremme and Terry Labonte, who can use a past champion’s provisional.

Bayne, who turned 21 on Sunday, will attempt to join Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and fellow Tennessean Sterling Marlin (1994-95) as the only drivers to win back-to-back Daytona 500s. A win would extend 2012 NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood's win record at Daytona to 16.

Champ Seeks First 500 Win On His Own

Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart has three Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola wins, three Budweiser Shootout crowns, two Gatorade Duel wins and two triumphs in IROC cars. His six DRIVE4COPD 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series wins (including the last four consecutive victories) is second only to Dale Earnhardt's seven, and Stewart is also tied for second with Bobby Allison on the all-time victory leader list at Daytona with 16 behind Earnhardt, who had 34.

In 13 previous starts, Stewart has three top-five finishes, including a runner-up run in 2004.

Danica Makes Highly Anticipated Debut

When the green flag flies on FOX at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Danica Patrick will become the third woman to start the Daytona 500, following Janet Guthrie (1977, 1980) and Shawna Robinson (2002). She'll also attempt to join last year's race winner Trevor Bayne as the eighth driver to win her first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in the 500. The club consists of Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994), Michael Waltrip (2001) and Bayne (2011).

Of the two women who have raced before her in the Daytona 500, neither has a top-10 finish with Guthrie coming home 12th in 1977 and 11th in 1980 and Robinson finishing 24th in 2002.

Not Old, But Experienced: Martin Looks To Make History

In his 28th Daytona 500 and 25th consecutive Great American Race, Mark Martin is back in his quest to win his first Daytona 500. Turning 53 on January 9, Martin would not only break NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison's record as the oldest driver to win the 500, but become the oldest winner in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history. The current oldest winner is Harry Gant at 52 years, seven months and six days.

It's the fifth anniversary of his loss at the line to Kevin Harvick as Martin begins a new chapter in his career with Michael Waltrip Racing. A win for Martin would break Dale Earnhardt's record of 20 races before his first win in the Daytona 500.

Junior Gaining Steam Heading Into 500

Dale Earnhardt Jr., owner of a 129-race wins drought, has the feel of someone who appears on the verge of a breakthrough.

Before getting caught up in an accident in Saturday night’s Shootout, Earnhardt led 12 laps, bringing the fans to their feet with each one.

On Sunday, Earnhardt narrowly missed sitting on the front row of the Daytona 500 for the second consecutive year, turning the third fastest lap in qualifying.

A win in the Daytona 500 would be Earnhardt’s second, joining his trophy from 2004.

This Time, It IS Go Or Go Home

Thursday’s Gatorade Duel at Daytona races mean everything to a select 10 drivers.

Those who have yet to secure a spot in the Daytona 500: Kenny Wallace, Dave Blaney, Michael Waltrip, Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, Bill Elliott, Mike Wallace, Robert Richardson Jr., JJ Yeley and Robby Gordon.

They’ll need to race their way in on Thursday. The top two “non-35 drivers” in each Gatorade Duel make Sunday’s Daytona 500.

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Odds & Ends - Daytona

Daytona International Speedway Data

Race #: 1 of 36 (2-26-11)
Track Size: 2.5 miles
Race Length: 500 miles (200 laps)
Banking/Corners: 31 degrees
Banking/Straights: 3 degrees
Banking/Tri-Oval: 18 degrees

Driver Rating at Daytona

Kyle Busch 98.7
Tony Stewart 98.2
Kurt Busch 96.0
Jeff Gordon 89.4
Matt Kenseth 89.0
Jimmie Johnson 87.5
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 87.1
Clint Bowyer 87.0
Landon Cassill 86.9
Kevin Harvick 86.3
Jeff Burton 83.8
Carl Edwards 83.2

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (13 total) at Daytona.

Qualifying/Race Data

2011 pole winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (186.089 mph, 48.364 seconds)
2011 race winner: Trevor Bayne (130.326 mph, 2-20-11)
Qualifying record: Bill Elliott (210.364 mph, 42.783 secs., 2-9-87)
Race record: Buddy Baker (177.602 mph, 2-17-80)

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Driver Highlights - Daytona

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour Energy Toyota)

Two top fives, six top 10s
Average finish of 15.1
Average Running Position of 15.7, ninth-best
Driver Rating of 87.0, eighth-best
2,550 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 186.792 mph, seventh-fastest

Jeff Burton (No. 31 CAT Chevrolet)

One win, seven top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 17.8
Average Running Position of 16.2, 10th-best
Driver Rating of 83.8, 11th-best
54 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
2,927 Green Flag Passes, second-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 186.946 mph, second-fastest
1,350 Laps in the Top 15 (53.7%), 10th-most
1,722 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kurt Busch (No. 51 Tag Heuer Avant-Garde Chevrolet)

10 top fives, 12 top 10s
Average finish of 16.3
Average Running Position of 13.7, fourth-best
Driver Rating of 96.0, third-best
56 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
2,719 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 186.867 mph, third-fastest
1,693 Laps in the Top 15 (67.3%), second-most
Series-high 1,927 Quality Passes

Kurt Busch (No. 51 Tag Heuer Avant-Garde Chevrolet)

10 top fives, 12 top 10s
Average finish of 16.3
Average Running Position of 13.7, fourth-best
Driver Rating of 96.0, third-best
56 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
2,719 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 186.867 mph, third-fastest
1,693 Laps in the Top 15 (67.3%), second-most
Series-high 1,927 Quality Passes

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota)

One win, five top fives, six top 10s
Average finish of 17.6
Series-best Average Running Position of 12.3
Series-best Driver Rating of 98.7
66 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
2,507 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 186.817 mph, sixth-fastest
Series-high 1,821 Laps in the Top 15 (72.4%)
1,918 Quality Passes, second-most

Landon Cassill (No. 83 Burger King Toyota)

Average finish of 26.0
Average Running Position of 14.4, sixth-best
Driver Rating of 86.9, ninth-best
Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 187.060 mph

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet)

Two wins, eight top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 15.0
Average Running Position of 15.3, eighth-best
Driver Rating of 87.1, seventh-best
64 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
2,563 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 186.784 mph, ninth-fastest
1,501 Laps in the Top 15 (59.7%), fifth-most
1,657 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)

Four top fives, six top 10s
Average finish of 17.9
Average Running Position of 17.0, 13th-best
Driver Rating of 83.2, 12th-best
53 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
2,785 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
1,450 Laps in the Top 15 (57.7%), eighth-most
1,918 Quality Passes, second-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)

Six wins, 12 top fives, 19 top 10s; three poles
Average finish of 15.5
Average Running Position of 14.3, fifth-best
Driver Rating of 89.4, fourth-best
1,479 Laps in the Top 15 (58.8%), seventh-most
1,521 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet)

Two wins, five top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 15.4
Driver Rating of 86.3, 10th-best
67 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
2,732 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 186.791 mph, eighth-fastest
1,316 Laps in the Top 15 (52.3%), 12th-most
1,526 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet)

One win, six top fives, nine top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 17.0
Average Running Position of 13.0, second-best
Driver Rating of 87.5, sixth-best
2,469 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
1,612 Laps in the Top 15 (64.1%), fourth-most
1,680 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Best Buy Ford)

One win, four top fives, 11 top 10s
Average finish of 17.4
Average Running Position of 15.3, seventh-best
Driver Rating of 89.0, fifth-best
Series-high 68 Fastest Laps Run
2,415 Green Flag Passes, 13th-most
1,497 Laps in the Top 15 (59.5%), sixth-most
1,608 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Ryan Newman (No. 39 WIX Filters Chevrolet)

One win, two top fives, three top 10s
Average finish of 22.0
Average Running Position of 16.6, 11th-best
Driver Rating of 82.9, 13th-best
2,709 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
1,371 Laps in the Top 15 (54.5%), ninth-most
1,560 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet)

Three wins, seven top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 16.7
Average Running Position of 13.6, third-best
Driver Rating of 98.2, second-best
66 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 186.835 mph, fifth-fastest
1,617 Laps in the Top 15 (64.3%), third-most

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Pack 'em in for the Daytona 500

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - This year's Daytona 500 is shaping up to be another thriller, perhaps more breathtaking than last year's season opener at Daytona International Speedway.


After what we saw in last Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout, the pack is back and the two-car tandems are pretty much gone at Daytona. And the drivers as well as the fans are happy to see the big draft return.

"This is a lot more fun than the two-car stuff was," reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart said after finishing second in the Budweiser Shootout. "I still like the open motor races better where we can literally control our own destiny, but this is by far a lot better than what we had with the two-car stuff."

Since the most recent restrictor-plate race -- last October at Talladega Superspeedway -- NASCAR has made numerous modifications to the Sprint Cup cars, including alterations to the restrictor plates and the front grille openings. NASCAR anticipated the changes would drastically reduce the number of two-car breakaways and bring back the packs.

The Budweiser Shootout featured three big crashes, including the final one that involved eight cars. Jeff Gordon endured the worst of that incident when his car got turned upside down and then flipped several times before it came to rest on its roof along the backstretch.

Kyle Busch remarkably bounced back from two near wrecks and then beat Stewart to the finish line by inches to win the preseason, non-points race at Daytona. Busch made a sling-shot pass on Stewart for the lead coming out of the final turn of the last lap.

Stewart begins his title defense at Daytona with a lot of new faces on his team this year, including crew chief Steve Addington.

Three months ago, Stewart won at Homestead-Miami Speedway and finished the season in a points tie with Carl Edwards. Stewart captured the title by virtue of his five wins for the season -- all of them coming in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. Edwards had only one victory for the year -- Las Vegas.

As of now, Stewart is tied with Bobby Allison for the second-most race wins at Daytona with 16. Stewart has three wins in both the Coke Zero 400 (July Sprint Cup race) and the Budweiser Shootout as well as two victories in the Gatorade Duel. He also has six Nationwide race victories and two in IROC events at this track.

But Stewart has yet to win the Daytona 500 in 13 attempts.

"Two tracks we haven't won at and the Daytona 500 we haven't won at everything else we have pretty much accomplished in this sport that we want to accomplish," Stewart said. "It's the biggest race of the year. Everyone wants to win that race. I won't say that it is not a complete career if you don't win it, but there is a lot of priority on this. Darrell Waltrip and Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. both had to go a long time before they got it."

It took Earnhardt 20 attempts to win the Daytona 500. Waltrip's first win in this race came after 17 years of trying.

Edwards' lap at 194.738 mph during last Sunday's time trials earned him the pole position for the 54th running of the Daytona 500. Edwards has now accumulated 11 career poles in the series, including one last November at Homestead.

"It feels really nice," he said. "This is our second pole in a row. Feels nice to pick up right where we left off."

Dale Jarrett is the last driver to win the Daytona 500 from the pole, doing so in 2000. Edwards' best finish in this race is second, which came last year.

There have been 11 different drivers who have won the Daytona 500 since 2000. Trevor Bayne is the defending race winner. One day after turning 20 years old, Bayne shocked the auto racing world by taking the checkered flag for NASCAR's most prestigious event of the season. He did it in just his second Sprint Cup start.

Can Bayne pull off another stunning victory in the Daytona 500?

"That's the plan," he said. "We wouldn't have come if we didn't think we could win. There's a little bit more pressure this year. We're not exactly flying under the radar, but I think we can go for it, that's for sure."

If Bayne wins Sunday's race, he would join Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95) as those drivers who won back-to-back Daytona 500s.

The Daytona 500 also will mark the highly anticipated debut of Danica Patrick in Sprint Cup. Patrick is guaranteed a starting position in the race, since her No.10 Tommy Baldwin Racing team is in the top 35 for owner points. TBR recently formed an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing to assure her a spot in the race.

"I have a fast car, so I think that's taken care of, but I think it's going to take some good breaks and a patient race, staying out of trouble," Patrick said. "You know it would be nice to kind of keep toward the front. I've found that when you are up near the front, away from the thick of things, you're much less likely to be caught in an accident that smoke is filled the air to and you can't miss or you can't see. But I think luck is going to play a big factor."

Patrick will become the third female to start the Daytona 500, following Janet Guthrie (1977 and '80) and Shawna Robinson (2002).

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Daytona 500 Driver Chassis Selections

#1-Jamie McMurray: Crew Chief Kevin "Bono" Manion and the #1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats team will be bringing a brand new chassis, Chassis #1204, to Daytona International Speedway this weekend.

#2-Brad Keselowski: and the #2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-643 during Sunday's 54th running of the Daytona 500. This is a new chassis to the #2 fleet. Continuing one of the most-popular features of the "Blue Deuce" from 2011, the featured tag line on the rear bumper this weekend in Daytona will be "Driven to Greatness."

#6-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: is driving primary chassis RK-689 which last ran at Daytona in July and won the race with David Ragan driving. The backup chassis will be RK-720.

#9-Marcos Ambrose: The #9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 795 for the Daytona 500. This Stanley Ford Fusion is brand new this season and was tested in Daytona in January.

#10-Danica Patrick will driver Chassis No. 333, a brand new chassis that will make its debut during Daytona Speedweeks in preparation for the 54th Daytona 500 on Feb. 26.

#16-Greg Biffle: is racing primary chassis RK-794 which is a brand new chassis, the backup chassis is RK-689, which last raced at Daytona in July and finished 18th.

#17-Matt Kenseth: will run primary chassis RK-741 which last run at Texas. This weekend at Daytona , Kenseth will pilot the #17 Best Buy Ford Fusion.

#18-Kyle Busch: Chassis No. 333 is a brand new chassis that will make its race debut in Sunday's Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

#20-Joey Logano: and the #20 Home Depot team will take chassis #293 to Daytona for the 500. The car has run previous restrictor-plate races in the past. Chassis #325 will serve at the team's backup for Daytona. It's the same car the team used in the Daytona test back in January.

#22-A.J. Allmendinger and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing #22 Team will be racing their "PRS-642" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in this week's action at Daytona. Thursday's qualifying race will mark its first time in racing competition.

#27-Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 338 from the RCR stable in the Daytona 500. This Chevy was a new addition to the RCR fleet for the 2011 season and saw superspeedway competition as Menard's #27 in the Daytona 500, at Talladega in April and at Daytona in July. The car was last seen on track at Talladega in October, entered as the #33 Chevy 100 Years Chevrolet where the team started third and went on to claim RCR's 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. The #27 PEAK/Menards Chevy will carry a special paint scheme during Speedweeks at Daytona. "PEAK blue" and "Menards yellow" will don the Impala as the Sprint Cup Series kicks off the 2012 season.

#29-Kevin Harvick: will utilize Chassis No. 387 from the Richard Childress Racing stable for this weekend's Daytona 500. This is a brand new race car that saw its first on-track activity at DIS during preseason testing in January.

#31-Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 296 from the RCR stable in the Daytona 500. This chassis, built in 2010 for RCR's #33 entry, competed in two superspeedway events in 2010 including the Talladega Superspeedway race in April (started-14th, finished-seventh) and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in July (started-15th, finished-17th). Ring Power and Louisiana Cat will be featured on the deck lid of the #31 Caterpillar Chevy for all Speedweeks 2012 events at Daytona International Speedway.

#33-Elliott Sadler: will pilot Chassis No. 238 from the RCR stable. This former #31 racer received a new body over the season after competing in the 2010 and 2011 Budweiser Shootouts with driver Jeff Burton, posting 12th and eighth-place finishes, respectively. The #33 will be sponsored by General Mills and Kroger at Daytona.

#36-Dave Blaney and the #36 Ollie's Bargain Outlet team will compete with the No. 331 chassis. The chassis is a brand new chassis made by Richard Childress Racing. TBR tested the chassis at Daytona International Speedway in January.

#39-Ryan Newman Chassis No. 39-701 is a brand new racecar that has only been tested in the wind tunnel. The Gatorade Duel will mark its first race of any kind, and the Daytona 500 will mark its first points-paying race.

#42-Juan Pablo Montoya: crew chief Chris 'Sunshine' Heroy and the #42 Target team will be racing chassis #1117 in the Daytona 500. This is the same chassis that Montoya drove to a 15th place finish during the fall race at Talladega Superspeedway last year.

#43-Aric Almirola:: The #43 Richard Petty Motorsports team has prepared chassis No. 722 for the Daytona 500. This is not the same car the team tested at the speedway in January, but it is the same Smithfield Helping Hungry Homes Ford Fusion that the #43 team ran in every restrictor plate event last season.

#51-Kurt Busch Chassis No. 553, Busch tested this chassis in January at Daytona International Speedway and turned a lap of 206.058 mph. This is the samecar that Brad Keselowski drove to victory in April 2009 at Talladega. It was his first career victory and remains the only Sprint Cup Series win for Phoenix Racing.

#55-Mark Martin: The #55 Aaron's Dream Machine is racing chassis No. 687 this weekend at Daytona, the first race appearance for the car. Chassis No. 710, also a new chassis will serve as the backup.

#99-Carl Edwards the #99 Fastenal team will be unloading chassis RK-712 at Daytona, the same car which finished second in the Daytona 500 last year.

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Re: Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

Daytona 500 Preview and Picks
By Greg Engle

After a week filled with preliminary racing and practices, it’s time to get down to the business at hand: The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, which starts in earnest with the 54th running of the Daytona 500 Sunday.

The season’s biggest race is always filled with surprises, making it hard to pick a winner. After all, who would have guessed that a 20-year-old rookie, Trevor Bayne, would have won in his first try last year?

But the races of Speedweeks have laid the groundwork and some favorites have emerged. There are a couple of things that seem somewhat certain: Ford has been working hard behind the scenes and this year seem to be leading the pack, followed close behind by perennial favorites Chevy.

Toyota and Dodge have been catching up, but still seem to be searching for speed. Narrowing the field down to the Fords and Chevys, several teams have risen to the top. Daytona is unlike any other race of the season, so the best way to look at favorites is to look at the top two drivers behind the wheel for those respective car makers.

Roush-Fenway Racing is the cream of the crop so far. Carl Edwards took the pole last Sunday with his teammate Greg Biffle close behind in second. Barring disaster in the final practices, they’ll make up the front row Sunday. Both drivers looked strong in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel qualifying races, but it was Roush-Fenway driver Matt Kenseth who stole the show, passing Biffle on the last lap to win the second Duel.

In the Ford camp, among the Roush-Fenway drivers, Edwards and Kenseth are the top picks. After all, Edwards was second here last season and Kenseth won the Daytona 500 in 2009. Behind the scenes, in personal conversations with me, Edwards has voiced a confidence I haven't seen in some time. He feels good about his equipment and, so far this week, has backed that up. After finishing fifth in his Duel Thursday, Edwards’ confidence only grew.

"It was crazy,” Edwards told “We are going to have fun though. It is going to be a good race. I am glad we got through all this and we are starting on the pole. I got a ton of experience today.”

Among the Chevys, the biggest story of the Daytona 500 would be a win by fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt is winless in his last 129 races but has shown that he may be ready to win again this week. He led laps in the Bud Shootout, qualified third last Sunday (missing a spot on the front row by a few tenths of a second) and was second in Thursday’s first Duel. Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500 in 2004 and seems to be on a mission to repeat that this Sunday.

While Earnhardt Jr. has a Daytona 500 win, the other Chevy favorite doesn’t. Tony Stewart has won everything but the 500 at Daytona. He has won three summer races here, three Shootouts and scored his third career Duel win Thursday. Stewart has his eyes on the big prize and could easily add a Daytona 500 victory to his resume.

Looking for a dark horse? Look no further than Marcos Ambrose. Ambrose, in a Ford, has been a quiet contender all week and could be a surprise winner Sunday.


Kurt Busch vs. Kyle Busch: The brothers Busch have been strong this week, but neither has shown the endurance to seal the deal. Kyle could steal the show, like he did in Saturday night’s Shootout, beating Stewart to the line in the closest finish in the event’s history. But, just like how the Toyota’s have lagged behind this week, so has Kyle and his brother Kurt in a Chevy. However, look for Kyle to come out ahead in this matchup.

Jimmie Johnson vs. Jeff Gordon: Both Hendrick Motorsports drivers were favorites coming into the week, but neither has shined as expected. Each has won the Daytona 500 before, but Johnson seems to want to make a strong statement. He finished third in his Duel Thursday, while Gordon finished behind him in eighth. Expect a similar result Sunday.


Carl Edwards +1,200
Matt Kenseth +2,000
Dale Earnhardt Jr. +1,000
Tony Stewart +900
Marcos Ambrose +1,200

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Re: Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

NASCAR Practice Notes & Driver Ratings     
By Micah Roberts

Daytona International Speedway

Practice Notes - Bud Shootout
Rating     Driver     Odds     Qualified     Practice 3     Duels*     2012 Shootout*
1     Tony Stewart     10/1     3rd     12th     1st     2nd
Notes: 17 Daytona wins over career, but none in the Daytona 500; 2004 runner-up.

2     Jeff Gordon     12/1     16th     25th     8th     15th
Notes: Three-time winner, the last coming in 2004. Star performer in pre-season testing.

3     Jamie McMurray     18/1     19th     28th     10th     16th
Notes: 2010 winner, three of six career wins have come in restrictor-plate races; brand new chassis.

4     Kurt Busch     25/1     28th     DNP     14th     17th
Notes: Three-time Daytona 500 runner-up; using winning '09 Talladega chassis driven by Keselowski.

5     Kyle Busch     10/1     14th     30th     7th     1st
Notes: Series best average running position of 12.3 over career at Daytona; brand new chassis.

6     Kevin Harvick     12/1     13th     8th     7th     22nd
Notes: 2007 winner, also 2010 winner of summer race; brand new chassis this week.

7     Dale Earnhardt Jr.     12/1     5th     42nd     2nd     20th
Notes: 2004 winner, hasn't won any points race in his last 129 starts. Streak in jeopardy Sunday.

8     Denny Hamlin     20/1     31st     11th     17th     5th
Notes: Not his best track with 22.1 average finish, but pre-season test was encouraging sign.

9     Carl Edwards     12/1     1st     41st     5th     9th
Notes: No plate race wins, but getting close; using runner-up chassis from 2011 Daytona 500

10     Elliott Sadler     30/1     10th     13th     4th     DNP
Notes: Finished 11th or better from 2004-2009; using chassis ran by Burton in 2010-11.

* Results from Thursday's two Gatorade Duel qualifying races and last Saturday's Budweiser Shootout.

Note: Practice 3 was the busiest session with the most participants in race trim. The other six practices either were in qualifying trim or had minimal participation for fear of wrecking their primary car.

Odds courtesy of the LVH Super Book.

Daytona 500 Best Bets

The Daytona 500 is a giant crap shoot that most professional bettors shy away from because of that uncertainty, but it's the Daytona 500, therefore wagers must be placed despite having little edge like might be obtained prior to other races. And with the uncertainty comes the possibility of hitting a bomb like Trevor Bayne at 100/1 last year.

Drivers that have high odds this week that are very capable of winning include Elliott Sadler (30/1 field), Marcos Ambrose (50/1) and Ricky Stenhouse (60/1). Sadler has been stellar in almost every Daytona 500 he's run, Ambrose has had a great speed weeks and Stenhouse is driving the same chassis that David Ragan drove to the winner's circle in the summer Daytona race last year.

Match-up play of the week:

Marcos Ambrose -110 vs Regan Smith: I've seen too much good out of Amrose over the last week to believe he'll be around late in the race and contend for the win.

Daytona 500 Cautions UNDER 9.5 (EV): Because of all the changes put in place to stop the two-car tandems and the spectacular wrecks we saw in the Bud Shootout, the first inclination is to think there will be a loty of wrecks Sunday. But the uncertainty may play into drivers being more cautious than ever and lead to less aggressive driving early on with the goal of staying on the track until the final three laps. Four of the last five Daytona 500's have had 9 cautions or less.

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