2013 NASCAR Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

2013 NASCAR Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

Daytona 500 Odds
By: Micah Roberts   
Sportingnews.com

When sports books around Las Vegas opened up their Daytona 500 odds in December, rookie Sprint Cup driver Danica Patrick was one of the longest shots on the board at 125-to-1.

After Patrick's practice performance Saturday at Daytona that saw her at the top of charts and winning the pole Sunday, some books like William Hill have dropped her odds to as low as 22-to-1.

Aliante sports book manager Fred Crespi slowly dropped her odds the last few days just because of a large amount of risk incurred on small wagers, but those numbers add up when giving out 125-to-1 and 100-to-1 on someone the public has wagered on with a rabid intensity.

"She's definite creating a buzz at the (bet) windows," said Crespi. "We have more tickets written on her for the Daytona 500 than anyone, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is always the most popular, which kind of puts her popularity into perspective."

Crespi moved Patrick's odds down to 50-to-1 following her pole setting run on Sunday. And that number will likely drop even further as winning the pole will do marketing wonders for the event.

After the Daytona preseason test session, where Patrick performed well while running mock qualifying laps, we wrote that she might be a good investment because of the expected volatile nature at Daytona produced by the new Gen-6 cars.

The drivers are all cautious, and still don't have the new car figured out. At times it looks like they're racing on ice because the smaller spoiler makes the rear of the car ultra sensitive. We've seen pile ups in every test and practice session with the new car. When they raced competitively for the first time in Saturday's Sprint Unlimited, we saw an immediate wreck.

Patrick performed at her best in plate races over her short NASCAR career, but she's kind of in the same boat as every driver. No one has an edge. Jeff Gordon's 12 career restrictor plate wins in every type of car means less than ever now. Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Earnhardt's ability to read the draft better than most doesn't give them as much of an edge in the new car.

It's almost as if the entire field of drivers -- that have far better credentials than Patrick -- have come closer to her level because they're all learning the new car at the same time.

The drivers who raced in the Sprint Unlimited have a lot of data to go off of, giving them somewhat of an edge heading into Thursday's Budweiser Duels. When the green flag drops Sunday for the Daytona 500, we can say at least 30 drivers have a legitimate shot at winning, and Patrick is one of them.

Despite the NASCAR handle rising due to Patrick's popularity, you can count every Las Vegas sports book director among those who will not be rooting for Danica Patrick to take the Daytona 500 checkers.

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Re: 2013 NASCAR Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

Daytona 500 Odds, Props, Matchups and Picks
By: Micah Roberts   
Sportingnews.com

LAS VEGAS -- The LVH SuperBook on Monday posted several driver matchups and propositions for the Daytona 500, including an OVER-UNDER total on cautions (9.5), winning car number (1-23 is the -135 favorite) or which manufacturer will win the race (Chevy is a favored +105 in a three-way prop).

Of course, the LVH has a few Danica Patrick props to fit the demand. She’s even-money against her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-120) in a driver vs. driver matchup, and the OVER-UNDER on her Daytona 500 finish position is 22.5.

It’s not quite the level of intrigue of Super Bowl props, but Daytona 500 props find their special way into the hearts of several fans, whether they're Las Vegas locals or visitors.

In all my years behind the counter, I think I had the most fun talking with NASCAR fans. The Jake Plummer-Ohio State 1997 Rose Bowl was fun too, but being able to get regular NASCAR fans to understand the betting process was always rewarding, and that was around the time that NASCAR first started being bet regularly in Las Vegas.

That’s not to say it was difficult to get NASCAR fans to understand bets, but their optimism for race weekend had me soon finding my way to tracks outside Nevada. I'd visit past guests of the casino who had invited me as their guest. We became friends, and it was unlike any other sporting event I'd been to. I liked that about NASCAR.

Between a mixture of circumstances, I feel honored to have been able to see the last Rockingham race with my best friend and brother, but it might not have happened if it wasn’t for the friendliness of NASCAR nation visiting Las Vegas. They painted an event picture that their description didn’t do justice, though Norman Rockwell would have loved it.

Here’s a look at Daytona 500 wagering options the LVH is offering as of Tuesday afternoon. We offer early leans on several of them.

DAYTONA 500 MATCHUPS

MATT KENSETH -120 vs. DALE EARNHARDT JR EVEN

The Linemakers’ lean: Kenseth

MATT KENSETH -120 vs. KEVIN HARVICK EVEN

DALE EARNHARDT JR -110 vs. KEVIN HARVICK -110

KYLE BUSCH -120 vs. BRAD KESELOWSKI EVEN

KYLE BUSCH -120 vs. TONY STEWART EVEN

BRAD KESELOWSKI -110 vs. TONY STEWART -110

The Linemakers’ lean: Stewart

JEFF GORDON -110 vs. CLINT BOWYER -110

JEFF GORDON -110 vs. lJIMMIE JOHNSON -110

JIMMIE JOHNSON -110 vs. CLINT BOWYER -110

KASEY KAHNE -120 vs. CARL EDWARDS EVEN

KASEY KAHNE -120 vs. GREG BIFFLE EVEN

GREG BIFFLE -110 vs. CARL EDWARDS -110

JOEY LOGANO -110 vs. MARTIN TRUEX JR -110

The Linemakers’ lean: Logano

JOEY LOGANO -110 vs. JAMIE McMURRAY -110

MARTIN TRUEX JR -110 vs. JAMIE McMURRAY -110

DANICA PATRICK EVEN vs. RICKY STENHOUSE JR -120

The Linemakers’ lean: Stenhouse

DANICA PATRICK -110 vs. TREVOR BAYNE -110

TREVOR BAYNE EVEN vs. RICKY STENHOUSE JR -120

JEFF BURTON -110 vs. MARK MARTIN -110

RYAN NEWMAN EVEN vs. MARK MARTIN -120

DAYTONA 500 FINISH POSITIONS

MATT KENSETH
OVER 10.5 -120
UNDER 10.5 EVEN

The Linemakers’ lean: UNDER

DALE EARNHARDT JR.
OVER 12.5 -120
UNDER 12.5 EVEN

KYLE BUSCH
OVER 12.5 -120
UNDER 12.5 EVEN

KEVIN HARVICK
OVER 12.5 -120
UNDER 12.5 EVEN

JIMMIE JOHNSON
OVER 12.5 -140
UNDER 12.5 +120

JEFF GORDON
OVER 12.5 -140
UNDER 12.5 +120

BRAD KESELOWSKI
OVER 12.5 -140
UNDER 12.5 +120

CARL EDWARDS
OVER 14.5 -130
UNDER 14.5 +110

DANICA PATRICK
OVER 22.5 -120
UNDER 22.5 EVEN

The Linemakers’ lean: OVER

DAYTONA 500 RACE PROPOSITIONS

WINNING CAR NUMBER WILL BE:
1-23 -135
24-99 +115

The Linemakers’ lean: 1-23

TOTAL CAUTIONS:
OVER 9.5 -110
UNDER 9.5 -110

**(At least 200 laps must be completed for action)

The Linemakers’ lean: UNDER

WINNING CAR NUMBER WILL BE:

ODD +160
EVEN -180

WINNING MANUFACTURER:

CHEVY +105
FORD +350
TOYOTA +160

The Linemakers’ lean: Toyota

DAYTONA 500 GROUP MATCHUPS

GROUP 1


MATT KENSETH +210
DALE EARNHARDT JR +225
KYLE BUSCH +225
KEVIN HARVICK +225

GROUP 2

TONY STEWART +220
BRAD KESELOWSKI +220
DENNY HAMLIN +225
JEFF GORDON +220

GROUP 3

JIMMIE JOHNSON +215
CLINT BOWYER +225
KASEY KAHNE +215
CARL EDWARDS +230

GROUP 4

GREG BIFFLE +220
MARTIN TRUEX JR +220
JOEY LOGANO +225
JAMIE McMURRAY +220

GROUP 5

JEFF BURTON +210
MARK MARTIN +225
MARCOS AMBROSE +225
RYAN NEWMAN +225

GROUP 6

RICKY STENHOUSE JR +200
TREVOR BAYNE +230
DANICA PATRICK +225
AUSTIN DILLON +230

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Re: 2013 NASCAR Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

Daytona 500 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

The last thing I wanted to do was have Danica Patrick be the lead story of this years Daytona 500 preview, but it’s just too unique of a story to ignore. After weighing out all the storylines for this years event, the top story is a rookie Sprint Cup driver who has never had much success in any NASACAR series. But after becoming the first woman to ever win a Cup series pole position, and do it for the Super Bowl of NASCAR, the intrigue of her story is the main headline.

Of course Patrick has a few attributes that make her a little more attractive than any other that might have won the pole. She’s got the TMZ type of media buzz already following her which far outweighs any type of coverage any NASCAR or sports media could ever conjure up. She’s brought the eyes of hundreds of thousands of new fans to a sport they may not have otherwise thought of watching. It also helps sell her news because she’s very easy on the eyes.

There’s also the angle of Patrick dating fellow rookie driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the type of romance never seen before in NASCAR, but the type that Hollywood tabloids have been dishing out since movie producers figured out films sold better when the headlining actors were seen in the public together.

As sensational as all that the may be, none of that was the main consideration for leading with Patrick here. Her tie into being the main Daytona 500 story in Las Vegas is that she has been the most bet driver, male or female, good-looking or hideous, single or linked.

Las Vegas bettors have got Danica Patrick fever, and the betting trend that has seen her drop from as high as 125/1 odds down to as low as 16/1 odds at William Hill, started long before she won the Daytona 500 pole position on Sunday.

Drivers with high odds, male or female, always attract action at the betting windows because every once in a while in NASCAR a bomb does hit, whether it’s Regan Smith at Darlington paying 200/1 odds or Trevor Bayne in the Daytona 500 two years ago at 100/1. That alone made a regular NASCAR bettors take a flier on her for $5 or $10 bucks.

As small as the bets may seem, they add up quickly when giving odds at over 100/1. The drivers at the bottom of the list always have the highest liability just because of the high odds. Now when you mix in a driver of Patrick’s high profile, that figure goes up considerably compared to someone like Bobby Labonte (100/1) or Casey Mears (200/1).

When Patrick had a good Daytona preseason test session in January, bettors took a liking to her a little more and wagered accordingly. But the big burst of action came on Saturday when Patrick was the fastest in the final practice session in a mock qualifying trim, which was a major sign that she was the favorite to win the pole in Sunday’s qualifying.

Aliante sports book manager Fred Crespi has slowly been dropping her odds over the last week just because a large amount of risk had been incurred on the small wagers.

“She’s definitely creating a buzz at the (bet) windows,” said Crespi. “We have more tickets written on her for the Daytona 500 than anyone, even Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is always the most popular which kind of puts her popularity into perspective.”

Crespi moved Patrick’s odds down to 50/1 following her pole setting run on Sunday. And he’ll probably keep moving her lower down the chart because Patrick is bringing a new audience to the sport and to the sports books.

At this juncture, most of her fans just want to be a part of the fun and add some excitement to the event. To make the rooting interest have the most fun, a wager of any kind will do the trick. The sports books have met those demands and have offer plenty of entertaining Danica-themed props. (LVH Daytona 500 props)

On Valentine's Day, Crespi made a sweetheart Daytona 500 matchup between Patrick and Stenhouse -- who would have the better finish. Stenhouse was placed at -190, Patrick at +160. The LVH had a much more conservative number with Stenhouse being -120

The opinion on that Valentine's Day prop offered by the Aliante book prop says a lot about how they think Patrick will do on Sunday. It’s rare to see any restrictor-plate race matchup priced over -150 no matter who the drivers are because the races are so volatile. Any driver can see their day end by no fault of their own in an instant.

On one side you have Patrick, who has fared well in plate races, but overall has been disappointing in NASCAR. On the other side you have Stenhouse, who won last years Nationwide Series Championship, and is driving the No. 17 Roush Racing Ford -- the same car that Matt Kenseth drove to two Daytona 500 wins, including last season.

Stenhouse is an accomplished driver on the rise with a great team, while Patrick has a great car and, goes fast on laps when there are no other cars around her, but she doesn’t have the stock car skills of Stenhouse yet.

However, the one equalizer here is the new Gen-6 car. Drivers have been racing like they’re on ice because the smaller spoiler makes the rear of the car way more sensitive than in the past. We’ve seen major wrecks in every practice and test session when there were cars pack racing and we saw it again in Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited which was the first competitive racing of the season.

The drivers are cautious and will all be learning on the fly, which kind of brings everyone to the same level. Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Earnhardt Jr. a ll have a great edge in plate racing because they feel the draft better than most, but with the new car, some of that edge goes away.

On Sunday we should see the drivers all being very respectful of each other with hopes of just going along in cruise control for the first 190 laps, but in those last 10 laps, it may be the longest 10 laps in history riddled with cautions.

It seems that drivers have been avoiding the inevitable during their learning curve. They don’t want to try things in practice because they know they’ll get in trouble and ruin a car. And after the big wreck in the Sprint Unlimited, they all kind of played it safe as well.

Thursday’s Budweiser Duels will determine where the rest of the 41 drivers qualify based on their finish. Patrick and Jeff Gordon are locked in to the front row, unless one of them crashes during the Duels. This will be the drivers final chance to learn things before Sunday’s race and you can bet that even though they’ll be driving on egg shells, we’ll see a few pile ups.

There will be three practice session following Thursday’s Duels, but you can expect several drivers to go through the motions with some not even participating. 

But just when I suggest that the field might be dummied up a bit, we do have to consider what we saw in the Sprint Unlimited where two of the elite plate racers were battling it out for the win. So while I can talk all I want about everyone being on a level playing field because of the Gen-6 car, the cream rose to the top when it mattered most.

I think something similar will happen again in the Daytona 500. There will be two factions in the race: one that wants to get out front early to avoid traffic and second that drops to the back to avoid traffic. I like my chances with the driver out front and the Joe Gibbs cars all have that ability.

Budweiser Duel Race No. 1 Prediction:

1) #16 Greg Biffle (7/1)     
2)  #14 Tony Stewart (9/2)
3) #11 Denny Hamlin (7/1)
4) #22 Joey Logano (8/1)
5) #99 Carl Edwards (15/1)

Budweiser Duel Race No. 2 Pradiction:

1) #31 Jeff Burton (8/1)
2) #29 Ryan Newman (10/1)
3) #18 Kyle Busch (5/1)
4) #1 Jamie McMurray (12/1)
5) #17 Matt Kenseth (9/2)

Daytona 500 Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #20 Matt Kenseth (12/1)
2) #11 Denny Hamlin (12/1)
3) #29 Kevin Harvick (12/1)
4) #14 Tony Stewart (12/1)
5) #16 Greg Biffle (18/1)

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Re: 2013 NASCAR Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

Chassis Selections For Daytona
Jayski.com

#2-Brad Keselowski: and the #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team will race chassis 654 in the Daytona 500 a brnad new chassis for 2013. The backup chassis is 652 a brand new chassis for 2013.

#5-Kasey Kahne: Crew chief Kenny Francis and the #5 team will unload brand new Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-768 for the first time in the Feb. 24 Daytona 500.

#10-Danica Patrick will pilot chassis No. 10-758, a brand new chassis for the #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet Stewart-Haas Racing team.

#14-Tony Stewart: Chassis No. 14-762 is a brand-new racecar that has never turned a wheel on the racetrack, but it has been wind-tunnel tested numerous times.

#16-Greg Biffle: and the Matt Puccia led #16 3M Ford Fusion team will bring Primary Chassis RK-781 to Daytona which hit the track for the first time a year ago in the Daytona 500 and earned a third-place finish. Robbie Reiser has nicknamed RK-781 "Jake" after Puccia's pet cat.

#17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Chassis RK-830 is a brand new chassis for the Rookie of the Year contender. After the Daytona test in January, the #17 team went to work to build a brand new car.

#22-Joey Logano: and the #22 Pennzoil/Shell Ford team will race chassis 653 in the Daytona 500, a brand new chassis for 2013. The backup chassis is 648 a brand new chassis for 2013.

#27-Paul Menard will pilot chassis No. 409 for both the Budweiser Duel and Daytona 500. This #27 PEAK/Menards Chevrolet SS is a new addition to the Richard Childress Racing stable this season. Menard has 11 starts at Daytona International Speedway. His best start of first came in July 2008 and his best finish of sixth came in last year's Daytona 500. The Wisconsin native has completed 1,933 of 1,948 laps attempted at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, leading 37 of them.

#29-Kevin Harvick: will pilot Chassis No.407 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in both the Budweiser Duel and Daytona 500. New to the fleet, this Budweiser Chevrolet SS will run its first competitive laps at the 2.5-mile superspeedway during Budweiser Speedweeks.

#31-Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 296 in the second Budweiser Duel and Daytona 500. This Caterpillar chassis was utilized last season in the Daytona 500 by Burton and saw action at multiple restrictor-plate events during the 2010 and 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series seasons with driver Clint Bowyer. Burton's has 38 starts at Daytona International Speedway with one win (July 2000), nine top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. Burton also scored the pole position for the 2006 Daytona 500 and has led 145 laps at the historic 2.5-mile superspeedway. Pon CAT, Ring Power CAT and Toromont CAT will be featured on the deck lid of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet this weekend in the Daytona 500.

#39-Ryan Newman Chassis No. 39-664, which has two previous starts in restrictor-plate races, both coming during the 2011 season. Its first start came at Daytona in July 2011. Newman had a strong racecar, evidenced by his leading four times for a race-high 25 laps. But, in the end, he was relegated to a 23rd-place finish thanks to being shuffled out of the lead on the race's final restart and being collected in a last-lap accident. After extensive body work, the chassis returned to action at Talladega in October. Once again, his racecar was strong, but he was the victim of the two-car draft just before the race's halfway point. Newman was spun, which caused major front-end damage. The severe spin in the grass tore off Newman's front-bumper assembly and left him with a heavily damaged racecar and a 38th-place finish. Last season, Chassis No. 39-664 served as a backup car at Daytona and Talladega. Since then, the car's body has been updated for 2013, and it was wind-tunnel tested in January in preparation for the Daytona 500.

#48-Jimmie Johnson: Chassis No. 771 serves as the primary for Johnson in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, a brand new chassis. Chassis No. 618 serves as the backup and finished 14th in last years Sprint Unlimited event and 4th in the 2011 event..

#55-Mark Martin: will drive MWR chassis 753 in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.: For the Feb. 24 Daytona 500, crew chief Steve Letarte has selected Chassis No. 88-773. This is a new chassis that has not been raced and will feature the blue National Guard scheme.

#99-Carl Edwards the #99 Fastenal team will be using RK-835 for the Daytona 500. The car debuted this year as the primary for last weekend's Sprint Unlimited, when a wreck in practice forced the team to roll out a backup car and send 835 back to RFR for repairs. The #99 Fastenal Ford Fusion will continue its back to back sponsorship in Daytona where suppliers Milwaukee, GearWrench, Weiler and Rubbermaid will debut on the hood, TV panel, deck lid and B-post.

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Re: 2013 NASCAR Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

Daytona 500 Prop Betting Strategy
By: Micah Roberts   
Sportingnews.com

LAS VEGAS -- The best strategy when betting Daytona 500 props is to go about your business the same way you would for Super Bowl props.

For the Super Bowl, the best way to roll successfully is by having a lean on the game and good reasons why. Your prop bet strategy should stem from your lean.

For the Ravens to be successful, chances were that Joe Flacco would have to perform well, and the offshoot of that thought was that his receiving corps would be beneficiaries of good statistical days. The sports books offered plenty propositions that allowed bettors to follow that plan and bet accordingly.

The same methodology applies to betting Daytona 500 props.

The first thing to do is identify who is likely to have the best car. In this case, I like the Joe Gibbs cars of Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch and will look to wager on them in a few props including matchups, manufacturer to win, winning car number and over-under finish positions. The Gibbs cars have stood out since the Daytona preseason test session in January and nothing has changed since to make me think otherwise.

Between the new Gen-6 car and the volatile nature of Daytona, I wouldn’t advise betting the normal unit play. Stay cautious, just like the drivers will be on Sunday. The logic and thinking that go into finding a driver to win, which is usually based on past performances and practices, don’t hold up as well at Daytona as they might for races at, say, Phoenix or Las Vegas. All it takes is for one driver to slip up and take 15 other innocent drivers with him or her.

But this is the first race of the season, and we’ve been waiting for action for so long – and this is the Daytona 500! – we’ll take a few pokes.

UNDER 9.5 cautions (-110) LVH: Given that drivers are so unfamiliar with their new cars and the number of major wrecks we’ve seen throughout the test and practice sessions, a wager on the OVER might seem to be in order. But the uncertainty will keep the drivers in line, and there will likely be a lack of daring moves until near the end of the race. I envision two or three pile-ups, but for the most part, I expect drivers to stay cautious. It’s important to note that between the two Bud Duel races, we saw only one caution through 120 laps and only 10 lead changes among seven different drivers.

Winning car number 1-23 (-135) LVH: All the Gibbs car are in this category, which is great, but even better is getting Tony Stewart’s No. 14, Jamie McMurray’s No. 1, Brad Keselowski’s No. 2, Kasey Kahne’s No. 5, Clint Bowyer’s No. 15, Greg Biffle’s No. 16, Ricky Stenhouse’s No. 17 and Joey Logano’s No. 22. This group of drivers has a better chance of winning the 500, although there’s a smaller number of cars than those numbered 24-99.

Over-Under finish-position:

Denny Hamlin UNDER 13.5 (-105) William Hill

Matt Kenseth UNDER 10.5 (EV) LVH

Kyle Busch UNDER 12.5 (EV) LVH

Danica Patrick OVER 21.5 (-115) William Hill. She’s had some of her best Nationwide moments at Daytona and Talladega, leading a lap in all three races last season, but I’d be very surprised if she finished better than 28th here in the big leagues.

Winning car manufacturer: Toyota (+160) LVH. There are more Chevys on the track, which is why they are favored, but the quality of the Gibbs and Michael Waltrip cars makes this a very attractive bet.

Driver matchups: I like all three Gibbs drivers against whomever they are matched up against. I also like Ricky Stenhouse Jr -120 to finish better than his girlfriend, Danica Patrick. The LVH has Stenhouse at -120, while the Aliante sports book has Stenhouse -190. Guess where I’ll play it?

Kevin Harvick is the one driver I fear could throw a monkey wrench into my entire betting plan. He drives a Chevy, has car No. 29 and he doesn’t race for Joe Gibbs. But I have a little history on my side that says his win on Sunday would be improbable. Only seven drivers have won a Bud Duel and gone on to win the Daytona 500, and no driver has won the Sprint Unlimited (Shootout), a Bud Duel and Daytona 500 in the same season. Harvick has the first two checked off.

We’ll see how it all unfolds Sunday. Enjoys the race and good luck!

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Daytona 500 Preview
By: Greg Engle
Examiner.com

It’s time to get this party started. The lineup has been set and the green flag is ready to fall on the 55th running of the Daytona 500, the Great American Race and the start of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season. The end to Speedweeks is the most anticipated race of the season and winning carries more significance than anywhere else.

After last Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited and Thursday’s Duel qualifying races, choosing favorites is a bit easier. But the 500 is also one of the longest and more grueling races in motorsports so anything can and usually will happen.

The top driver so far this week has been Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team. Harvick won last Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited and repeated the performance Thursday during the first Duel.

Overall Harvick has 23 starts at Daytona International Speedway, including 11 in the Daytona 500. In that time, he’s scored two wins - the 2007 Daytona 500 and the 2010 Coke Zero 400. He also has five top fives and 10 top-10 finishes. He has completed 94 percent of the laps run in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition at DIS since July 2001 (3,768 of 4,025).

“Speedweeks is always a little bit different from any other race because the week kind of evolves from start to finish,” Harvick said. “I’ve been through weeks where you wreck everything in sight and I’ve been through weeks where you’ve won races and been successful. You just have to stay calm and not get too high on the highs or too low on the lows, and be ready for Sunday.”

Matt Kenseth is with a new team this season. He rolls into Daytona however as the defending champion having won the rain delayed event last year. He may be with a new team and now driving a Toyota, but so far this week he’s shown a great deal of speed. The Daytona victory last season was Kenseth’s second Daytona 500 win, his first coming in 2009. He also has six top five and 13 top 10 finishes. With his new team, Kenseth seems on a mission and could become the first back to back winner of the Daytona 500 since 1994-95.

“Last year, everything not only went our way, but we just had really dominant cars and were able to keep them in the front all the time and fortunately be able to stay out of the trouble,” Kenseth said. “That's easier said than done sometimes. I think you try to get a car that's fast, which you don't always have very much control over. Then just try to get something that's comfortable in the draft and just hopefully get with some cars that your car works well with and hopefully, make the right moves and be in position at the end to at least have a chance."

Tony Stewart has won just about everything he’s raced at Daytona, with one exception; he has yet to win a Daytona 500. Overall he has four wins, eight top fives, 13 top 10s and one pole. His entire three car stable has shown speed this week and Stewart could be poised to add a Daytona 500 win to his resume. Like the other drivers in the field in addition to the usual obstacles faced this week is the introduction of the new car. So far this week the Gen 6 machine has changed the racing from the recent past. Stewart has raced in all forms of motorsports and is a pro at adapting to new cars. According to him, he’s found that the racing with the new cars has indeed changed.

“We’re still drafting, just not lining up pushing each other,” Stewart said.”I never liked the pushing deal anyway. There’s no other form of racing where you do that, so I don’t know why it’s been so embraced here, because to me it’s not really racing. It’s having two cars line up and one guy pushes the other guy. I don’t know where that really fits into auto racing. I don’t think it’s a bad thing if the bumpers don’t line up. I never was a fan of cars pushing each other in the first place, and if they don’t, if we can’t do it at Daytona, it’s not going to hurt my feelings.”

Don’t count out: Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers here with six wins here. If he and his Hendrick Motorsports team can overcome the gremlins that seem to follow them everywhere he could be a show stealer Sunday.

Bottom Line: 27 of the 54 Daytona 500s have been won from a top-five starting position. Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 from the 39th starting position in 2009, the deepest a race winner has started. Nine have been won from the pole. The last to do so was Dale Jarrett in 2000.16 Daytona 500s have been won from the front row.

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Kevin Harvick
Matt Kenseth
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Daytona 500: Starting Lineup, Favorites, Analysis For Each Driver In 43-Car Field
By Jeff Owens Sporting News
Sportingnews.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—NASCAR kicks off the 2013 season Sunday with its biggest race—the 55th annual Daytona 500.

The start time for Fox’s television coverage is noon, beginning with a pregame show followed by driver introductions at 12:15 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 1:29 p.m.

The storylines are numerous:

Can the drivers get a handle on NASCAR’s new Sprint Cup car, which so far has been a handful in the draft?

Danica Patrick made history by winning the pole, but what can she do in the race?

Can three-time champion Tony Stewart finally win the Daytona 500?

Can Kevin Harvick, the favorite, make it three-for-three during Speedweeks?

Can Jeff Gordon win for the third time?

And can Dale Earnhardt Jr. thrill the sport’s largest fan base?

1. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet — She’s confident, but forget talk that she can win. If she just finishes and gets a respectable result, it’s a big day.

2. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet — He’s won it three times and has a fast car again. But he can’t make the kind of dumb mistakes that doomed him in the Duels.

3. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet — Harvick is on a mission to end all this “lame-duck” talk. He’s 2-for-2, but no one has ever swept all three Cup races during Speedweeks.

4. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota — He’s got one win in the bag and has been calm and happy all week. And a happy Rowdy is a dangerous Rowdy.

5. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford — He’s finished second to Harvick in two races down here and has been a contender the last few years at Daytona. He’s a 43-year-old sleeper.

6. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet — He’s fast and he’s got fast Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Could be the start of a big year for Kahne.

7. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet — All jet dryer jokes aside, Montoya could create some fireworks. He made a late charge in the Duels and is not afraid to take a chance.

8. Austin Dillon, No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet — RC’s grandson showed Thursday that he has talent, and the RCR cars are fast. A good finish would be another positive sign for the future.

9. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet — He won in it 2006 but since then, Five-Time has had no luck at Daytona. Since ’06, he’s finished 27th or worse in his last six Daytona 500s, including a Lap 2 crash last year.

10. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota — Would love to cap last year’s marvelous season with a Daytona 500 victory. Put him in the sleeper category with Biffle.

11. Kurt Busch, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet — New team, new attitude, same old snake-bitten luck. Busch has wrecked two cars here already. Don’t be surprised if he trashes another one on Sunday.

12. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota — He’s won it in two of the past four years — both rain delayed — and is now regarded as one of the best restrictor-plate racers. He’s been sneaky fast all week. And it might rain. Just saying.

13. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet — He’s won everything but … He’s 0-for-14 in the Daytona 500 and the ghost of Dale Earnhardt is haunting him. He’s driving a black car. This could be his day.

14. Mark Martin, No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota — Speaking of future Hall of Famers who have never won the Daytona 500. He might be 54, but the old man can still bring it.

15. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Penske Racing Ford — The new champ already is in NASCAR’s doghouse for barking a bit too loudly. Oh, wouldn’t he love to show them up by tweeting from victory lane on Sunday.

16. Paul Menard, No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet — He’s got one career victory — the 2011 Brickyard 400. He’s got a fast car, but adding another big trophy will be harder — much harder.

17. Casey Mears, No. 13 Germain Racing Ford — He’s got a famous last name and a Coca-Cola 600 win. His car and team? Not so much.

18. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet — RCR cars are fast. Wouldn’t it be great to see their elder statesman and the “mayor of the garage” celebrating in victory lane?

19. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet — He’d been quiet all week — until leading the final practice on Saturday. Now Junior Nation is stirring.

20. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet — He won the 2010 Daytona 500, but that seems like an awfully long time ago.

21. Joey Logano, No. 22 Penske Racing Ford — He’s got a fast Ford and a brash new teammate (Keselowski). Don’t be surprised if he shows up in the lead pack at the end. Call him the leading dark horse.

22. David Ragan, No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford — Remember when he blew a chance to win the 2011 Daytona 500? His only career win came here, but he was driving a Roush Ford then.

23. Bobby Labonte, No. 47 JTG Daugherty Motorsports Toyota —
Remember when he was the 2000 Cup champion? Didn’t think so. Most don’t either.

24. Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford — Too bad they’re not running this on the Daytona road course. Missed it by a month.

25. David Gilliland, No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford — Would you believe he finished third here in 2011, following that Trevor Bayne fellow across the finish line. Quick, rush to the computer and change your fantasy lineup.

26. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford — Petty’s famous No. 43 has produced some fond memories at Daytona. Of course, back then, Petty was driving it.

27. Joe Nemechek, No. 87 Nemco-JRR Toyota — It’s already been a big week for this financially strapped team. Question now is how soon Nemechek will park it and collect that check.

28. Ricky Stenhouse, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford — Big questions facing this driver. What is Danica cooking for dinner? Who does the laundry? Who kisses whom in victory lane? Are cowboy hats now trendy attire for date night?

29. Michael Waltrip, No. 26 Swan Racing Toyota — Mikey could produce the feel-good story of the year if he could win for the Sandy Hook kids and Newtown, Conn.

30. Dave Blaney, No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet — Driving Florida Lottery car; hoping his number comes up.

31. Scott Speed, No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford — Did a good job making the race. Now looking for his last name.

32. Josh Wise, No. 35 Front Row Motorsports Ford — Struggling team hopes young driver is Wise beyond his years.

33. Trevor Bayne, No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford — 2011 winner had a fast car until wreck in qualifying race. Hopes backup is just as fast.

34. Ryan Newman, No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet — He has a long way to go to catch his Stewart-Haas teammates (Danica, Stewart).

35. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota — Mistake in qualifying race cost him a car and stuck him at the rear of the field.

36. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford — Already been in two wrecks this week. Trying hard to avoid 3-for-3.

37. Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota — A broken side window netted him a black flag in qualifying race and cost him a good starting spot.

38. Michael McDowell, No. 98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford — Best known for his spectacular flip at Texas. Hopes to keep all four wheels on the ground today.

39. Terry Labonte, No. 32 FASLane Racing Ford — Two-time Cup champion still hanging around — just at the back of the field now.

40. Regan Smith, No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet — Hopes to give this team better luck than it had with Kurt Busch last year.

41. J.J. Yeley, No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet — Driving Golden Corral car; hungry for a good finish.

42. David Reutimann, No. 83 BK Racing Toyota — Two-time race winner trying to resurrect his career.

43. Travis Kvapil, No. 93 BK Racing Toyota — Unfortunately, in NASCAR, there is no prestige with being the last player drafted.

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