Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

5 Things to Know About What's Going on at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Five things to know about what's going on at Daytona International Speedway in advance of the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 23:

HENDRICK ENGINES: Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick and Bobby Labonte blew engines during pole practice for the Daytona 500 on Saturday, creating concern about Hendrick Motorsports power plants. Stewart and Patrick are teammates at Stewart-Haas Racing, and Labonte is driving for HScott Motorsports. Both teams lease engines from Hendrick, which also fields cars for six-time and defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time champ Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne. Hendrick general manager Doug Duchardt said ''we feel like we understand what is happening'' and expects to get the issue fixed before Sunday's qualifying runs. Though Hendrick drivers had no engine problems, those teams seemed to be down on horsepower. The fastest Hendrick driver during the two practice sessions was Johnson, who was ninth in the second session. ''It's something that we are doing in our family here and we need to figure it out,'' Patrick said. ''I was saying I bet other Hendrick cars are thinking, `What's going on?' We have got time to hopefully figure it out.''

RCR STRONG: Richard Childress Racing looks strong, really strong at Daytona. RCR took the top two spots in each Daytona 500 pole practice session Saturday and had the only cars to reach 195 mph around the famed speedway. Paul Menard and Ryan Newman were first and second, respectively, in the opening, two-hour practice. Newman and rookie Austin Dillon topped the speed chart in the second session. Teammate Brian Scott also was fast, finishing fifth in the first practice and eighth in the second one. Menard's No. 27 Chevrolet was so stout in the first practice that he was one of two cars to stay in the garage during the second session. The other one was Furniture Row driver Martin Truex Jr., who is using an Earnhardt-Childress Racing engine.

BET PAID: Kyle Busch walked around the garage area wearing a Seattle Seahawks hat Saturday. It clashed with his yellow and brown fire suit, but he had little choice since he was paying off a Super Bowl bet with fellow driver Kasey Kahne. Busch, who grew up in Las Vegas rooting for the Denver Broncos, attended the game at MetLife Stadium. But once the lopsided game got out of hand, he got online and ordered a Russell Wilson jersey and a Seahawks hat. He wore them on the plane to Daytona and completed the bet by wearing the hat at the track Saturday.

QUALIFYING ORDER: Forty-nine drivers will vie for the Daytona 500 pole Sunday, beginning with NASCAR's most popular driver. Dale Earnhardt Jr. randomly drew the first qualifying spot. Danica Patrick goes off fourth. Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, who returned to racing this week for the first time since breaking his right leg in August, will qualify 32nd. Six-time and defending series champion Jimmie Johnson goes off 48th, one spot ahead of final qualifier Clint Bowyer.

GREEN TEAM: Mark Ruffalo has a knack for going green. Ruffalo, star of ''The Avengers,'' left the superhero makeup behind for Saturday's stop at Daytona International Speedway. Ruffalo teamed with ARCA driver Leilani Munter to promote a partnership with The Solutions Project, which is driven to accelerate renewable energy adoption in all 50 states. Ruffalo was all smiles as he posed for pictures and signed autographs for fans - even ones surprised to see a former Academy Award nominee among a garage full of drivers.

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2014 Daytona 500 Track Facts


Daytona International Speedway Data

Race #: 1 of 36 (2-23-14)
Track Size: 2.5 miles
Race Length: 500 miles (200 laps)
Banking/Corners: 31 degrees
Banking/Straights: 3 degrees
Banking/Tri-Oval: 18 degrees

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Daytona

Kyle Busch 96.9
Tony Stewart 93.0
Matt Kenseth 92.6
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 89.7
Kurt Busch 88.8
Jimmie Johnson 88.4
Jeff Gordon 87.2
Clint Bowyer 86.2
Denny Hamlin 83.7
Kasey Kahne 82.4

Note: Driver Ratings are compiled from 2005-2013 races (17 total) at Daytona.

Qualifying/Race Data

2013 pole winner: Danica Patrick, (196.434 mph, 45.817 seconds)
2013 race winner: Jimmie Johnson (159.250 mph, 2-24-13)
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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Daytona Driver Tale of the Tape


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


· Three top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 14.8
· Average Running Position of 16.3, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 86.2, eighth-best
· 76 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 3,359 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 189.078 mph, fifth-fastest
· 1,841 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 12th-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)

· 10 top fives, 13 top 10s
· Average finish of 17.9
· Average Running Position of 16.4, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 88.8, fifth-best
· 64 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
· 3,296 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· 1,947 Laps in the Top 15 (60.1%), fifth-most
· 2,385 Quality Passes, fourth-most

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

· One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 18.6
· Series-best Average Running Position of 12.3
· Series-best Driver Rating of 96.9
· 78 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 3,485 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 189.115 mph, second-fastest
· Series-high 2,307 Laps in the Top 15 (71.3%)
· Series-high 2,569 Quality Passes

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)

· Two wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.8
· Average Running Position of 14.5, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 89.7, fourth-best
· 83 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 3,751 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 189.089 mph, third-fastest
· 2,069 Laps in the Top 15 (63.9%), third-most
· 2,495 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 16.6
· Average Running Position of 14.6, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 87.2, seventh-best
· 3,255 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· 1,873 Laps in the Top 15 (57.9%), seventh-most
· 2,039 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota)

· Two top fives, two top 10s
· Average finish of 21.5
· Average Running Position of 16.5, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 83.7, ninth-best
· 77 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 189.038 mph, seventh-fastest

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)

· Two wins, six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.0
· Driver Rating of 82.3, 12th-best
· Series-high 85 Fastest Laps Run
· 3,199 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 189.080 mph, fourth-fastest

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet)

· Three wins, eight top fives, 11 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 17.5
· Average Running Position of 13.9, third-best
· Driver Rating of 88.4, sixth-best
· 2,062 Laps in the Top 15 (63.7%), fourth-most
· 2,185 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)

· Two top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 19.0
· Average Running Position of 16.8, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 82.4, 11th-best
· 69 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 3,726 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 188.999 mph, 11th-fastest
· 1,667 Laps in the Top 15 (51.5%), 10th-most
· 2,167 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)

· Two wins, six top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 17.5
· Average Running Position of 13.9, second-best
· Driver Rating of 92.6, third-best
· 76 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 2,082 Laps in the Top 15 (64.3%), second-most
· 2,215 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)

· Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.5
· Average Running Position of 15.6, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 93.0, second-best
· 73 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 1,892 Laps in the Top 15 (58.4%), sixth-most

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Daytona 500 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

As always with restrictor-plate races, Sunday’s Daytona 500 will be a crap shoot with up to 35 drivers having a legitimate shot at winning. After watching Denny Hamlin win Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited, it was apparent that the slight height increase on the spoiler give these cars a lot more stability.

Last season, the cars were slipping all over the place as though they were on ice. Drivers got in line and stayed there which created dull racing. They were afraid to jump out of the line and pass, because they couldn’t pass, nor were they confident the car would stick.  That appears to be fixed now which should provide a lot more passes and a lot more daring moves. It also means we could see more cautions with drivers having more confidence, but at the same time with the car handling so much better, they’ll have more control, so maybe not. The LVH has posted dozens of Daytona 500 propositions and they have a thought provoking number of 7.5 on the cautions.

With so many candidates having the ability to win and so many variables that can wipe out your driver wagered on in an instant, I stress moderation when betting the race. At a race like Phoenix or Las Vegas, where the possible winners are dropped down to about 14 drivers and where the drivers hold their form better, a bettor has a much likelier chance of cashing tickets from all the hard work labored into finding the best betting candidates. The final practices in those races give a huge amount of detail that can narrow your selections even more. But at Daytona, practices mean little and betting driver matchups are almost impossible.

But still, it is the Daytona 500, an American institution and it just wouldn’t be right if not throwing a few dollars on a couple drivers and rolling the dice. Crap shoot? Yes, but what a thrill it is. And because it is such a crap shoot, the sports books at least give you a fair shake on all the drivers. The LVH and William Hill sports books don’t have any driver listed under 10/1. You can get Jimmie Johnson, who won both Daytona races last season, at 12/1 when in three weeks at Las Vegas, he’ll be around 4/1 and bet down to 7/2.

While the odds on all the heavyweights have been raised, the odds on the drivers that usually have 500/1 attached to them weekly, such as David Ragan, are lowered considerably just because they have a good chance of riding the draft wave to the checkered flag. Ragan, who has won both his career races on restrictor-plate tracks, is 75/1 to win Sunday.

My best advice is to mix up the wagers a little bit. Take one or two of the favorites, take a driver in the middle at around 25/1, and go bold with Ragan or someone like him at 50/1 or higher, and then stagger the wager amounts based on who you think has the best chance of winning.

Although I say practice means little, I still will be formulating my last set of opinions Thursday night when the Budweiser Duels run which will determine the starting lineup. Austin Dillon (25/1) and Martin Truex Jr. (30/1) are locked into the front already from qualifying, but everyone else will be battling for position, and for six drivers, if they don’t perform well, they go home. What I will be looking for is how each of the top drivers gets out and pass. Who has the giddy-up and who has figured out the best places to make the move.

The team of Joe Gibbs Racing drivers should all have the equipment to shine as one of the best. Last season Matt Kenseth (10/1) led more laps than anyone in plate races, but didn’t get any of the four wins. He’s a two-time Daytona 500 winner and should be in a good position to be one of the drivers in the lead pack. The same goes for Hamlin (12/1) and Kyle Busch (10/1), both of whom have never won the Daytona 500.

The Hendrick Motorsports cars proved to be strong in plate races last season, but I was a little concerned when I saw three of their engines sold to other teams blow up in qualifying. It doesn’t mean that much, but it is something that sticks in the back of my head and raises a caution flag.

The Hendrick driver I can’t seem to get out of my mind in Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10/1). The guy has won only two races in six seasons with Hendrick and he hasn’t won a plate race since 2004, but there is this allure to him that I can’t shake and it doesn’t help that since he last won the Daytona 500 in 2004, his 12.9 average finish at Daytona a span of 20 races is the best among all drivers. His loyal followers also have the same problem I do, and will line up at the bet windows to have a ticket on him just for that chance to be a part of his victory if it does happen.

The Stewart-Haas Racing program took a dive last season, but with Kevin Harvick (10/1) and Kurt Busch (18/1) added to the stables, they are quality candidates to win Sunday. Harvick is a two-time Daytona 500 winner and might be the best plate driver in the series. Busch might be the best plate driver never to win a plate race, but with teammates like Stewart and Harvick helping in the draft, he might be in store for his first win.

The Richard Childress Racing drivers should all be fast and the great thing about them is that they have nice attractive odds attached to them. They were the most impressive during pre-season testing and also qualified well collectively. Ryan Newman (30/1) won the 2008 Daytona 500, thanks to a Kurt Busch push, and will have rookie Dillon welcome back No. 3 and Paul Menard (40/1) helping him out. Could a rookie actually win the Daytona 500? Trevor Bayne did in 2011 and paid out 125/1 at the betting counter.

The Roush Racing drivers should all be competitive as well, along with Jamie McMurray (25/1) who has four career wins on restrictor-plate tracks, including the 2010 Daytona 500.

It sounds like I like everyone, but that’s the point. No driver can be discounted and no one can make a legitimate argument against anyone winning the race. Even Danica Patrick (40/1) has a chance. So I’ll leave it at that and offer my five drivers that appeal to me the most. Enjoy the race.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10/1)
2) #4 Kevin Harvick (10/1)
3) #1 Jamie McMurray (25/1)
4) #11 Denny Hamlin (12/1)
5) #41 Kurt Busch (18/1)

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2014 Daytona 500 Driver Chassis Selections

#2-Brad Keselowski: Primary Chassis for Daytona is PRS-657, which is a new chassis. The backup chassis is PRS-649 which is a new chassis.

#3-Austin Dillon: will pilot chassis No. 440 in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. This is the same Chevrolet SS that Dillon utilized during January testing, where he topped the speed charts. Dillon will lead the 43-car starting field to the green flag on Sunday afternoon after earning his career-first Sprint Cup Series pole award with a lap of 196.019 mph (45.914 seconds). It marks the fourth time the #3 has won the pole for the Daytona 500, and its 67th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole, overall.

#4-Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 834 in Sunday's race. This is a new car from the Stewart-Haas Racing shop. Harvick has 25 starts at DIS and has raced his way to Victory Lane twice at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. In February 2007, Harvick hoisted the coveted Harley J. Earl trophy following his win in the Daytona 500 and three years later he won the July event at the track. He has earned six top fives and 11 top 10s, and has an average start of 15.7 and an average finish of 16.0 at DIS.

#5-Kasey Kahne: Crew chief Kenny Francis will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-768 for the Feb. 23 Daytona 500. Kahne raced this chassis in all four 2013 restrictor-plate races and drove it in the second 2013 Daytona Duel to a runner-up finish.

#10-Danica Patrick will pilot Chassis No. 10-835 is a new car that has only been tested in the wind tunnel since being built. The Backup Racecar is Chassis No. 10-757 which has never been driven but was available as a backup car during the 2013 season in July at Daytona and in October at Talladega.

#14-Tony Stewart: Chassis No. 14-844: is a brand-new racecar that has never turned a wheel on the racetrack, but it has been wind-tunnel tested numerous times.

#15-Clint Bowyer: Primary chassis No. 752 finished fourth in July 2013 at Daytona and 10th in October 2013 at Talladega. Chassis No. 754 serves as the back up chassis. The chassis raced in October at Talladega, finishing eighth, driven by Martin Truex Jr.

#16-Greg Biffle: and the Matt Puccia led #16 3M team will bring primary chassis RK-798 first hit the track in 2012 at Talladega, earning a sixth-place finish. This is the same chassis Biffle crossed the finish line 17th last July at Daytona. The backup chassis is RK-852 which last ran Talladega and finished 11th. Biffle has 11 career Daytona 500 starts, earning two top-five and four top-10 finishes. The 2014 season will mark the seventh season 3M has been the primary sponsor of Greg Biffle and the #16. Post-it brand made the debut for 3M in 2005 and in 2006 3M could be seen on the hood in the Nationwide Series with Biffle. After sponsoring a few races in 2007, they moved up to full time in 2008.

#17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: and the #17 Nationwide team will be using primary chassis Chassis RK-830 was raced at all superspeedway races in 2013 by the #17 team. It was last raced at Talladega where Stenhouse claimed a third-place finish, his first top-five finish of his rookie season. The backup chassis is RK-872, a new chassis. Stenhouse has three career starts at DIS, completing 563 of 563 laps (100%) with an average starting position of 19.3 and average finishing position of 14.3.

#22-Joey Logano: Primary Chassis is PRS-654 for Daytona, which last raced at Talladega. The Backup Chassis is PRS-658 which is a new chassis.

#24-Jeff Gordon: crew chief Alan Gustafson and the #24 team will unload a new car, Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 24-855, for the season-opening Daytona 500. This is a new chassis that has not been raced.

#27-Paul Menard will pilot chassis No. 447 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 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Daytona International Speedway. His best start of first came in July 2008 and his best finish of sixth came in the 2012 Daytona 500. The Wisconsin native has completed 2,156 of 2,309 laps attempted at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, leading 38 of them.

#31-Ryan Newman will race chassis No. 446 in Sunday's Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. This #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS is brand new and will take to the track for the first time on Wednesday for the two scheduled practice sessions. Newman is the proud owner of a Harley J. Earl trophy by winning the 50th running of the Daytona 500 in 2008. In total, the South Bend, Ind., native has 25 starts at the 2.5-mile superspeedway as well as four top-five and six top-10 finishes. His average start is 20th, average finish is 20th and he's led 101 laps of completion.

#33-Brian Scott will pilot chassis No. 442 for Sunday's 56th running of the Daytona 500. This is a new chassis that was utilized for the first time during January testing at Daytona International Speedway.

#41-Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 606, which has seven previous starts in restrictor-plate races, all as the #39 Chevrolet for SHR - four starts at Talladega and three at Daytona. In its seven previous starts, its best results have come at Daytona - a pair of fifth-place finishes. Chassis No. 606 last saw action in October at the Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega, where it finished ninth. Since then, Chassis No. 606 has undergone repairs and visited the wind tunnel in preparation for its maiden voyage as a #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for the 56th running of the Daytona 500.

#48-Jimmie Johnson: Crew chief Chad Knaus has selected Chassis No. 48-764. Johnson raced this car twice at Talladega Superspeedway in 2013 and drove it to win the 400-mile event at Daytona last July. The backup car is Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-853, which is a brand new Chevy SS.

#55-Brian Vickers: Primary Chassis 753 Michael Waltrip finished 5th at Daytona in July in this chassis.

#66-Michael Waltrip: Primary 748- Martin Truex Jr. finished 9th in the 2013 Sprint Unlimited at Daytona.

#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.: crew chief Steve Letarte and the #88 team has selected Chassis No. 88-854. This is a new chassis that has not been raced and will feature the National Guard scheme.

#99-Carl Edwards the #99 Fastenal blue team will unload Chassis RK-797 was last run in Talladega in 2013, finishing 17th. Edwards has 18 Sprint Cup starts at Daytona International Speedway with an average finish of 18.2.

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Daytona Betting Notes
By Sportsbook.ag

Daytona 500 Preview

Another NASCAR season gets underway with the historic Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon. Daytona International Speedway, completed in 1959, is a 2.5-mile, tri-oval track with huge bankings (31-degree turns, 18-degree tri-oval banking). The frontstrech measures 3,800 feet with the backstretch coming in at 3,000 feet. Jimmie Johnson, who won both races at this track last season, is the favorite to repeat his Daytona 500 victory, but is one of six drivers with the lowest odds on the board (10-to-1).

Drivers to Watch

Tony Stewart (12/1) -
Stewart has yet to win a Daytona 500 race, but he has four career wins at this track, all since 2005, and he's ready to put last year's broken leg behind him and start the season on a positive note. In addition to those wins, "Smoke" has five other top-5 finishes at Daytona including a runner-up to Jimmie Johnson last July in the Coke Zero 400.

Denny Hamlin (10/1) - Of all six favorites on the board this week, Hamlin appears to have the best chance to wind up victorious. He could become the first driver ever to sweep the Speedweeks, having won the Sprint Unlimited exhibition and Budweiser Duel 2 at this venue. Although Hamlin has never won a NASCAR race at Daytona, he has led for 237 laps spread out over 11 different races at this track. In addition to his 3rd-place showing back in 2009, he placed 4th in the crazy 2012 Daytona 500 won by Matt Kenseth.

Greg Biffle (25/1) - A strong darkhorse candidate this week is Biffle, who has come very close to winning the Daytona 500 in three of the past four years. He led for 27 laps and placed 3rd in this race in 2010, and after he crashed in 2011, Biffle placed 3rd in the 2012 Daytona 500 that he led for 44 laps, and then came in 6th place in last year's race.

David Ragan (100/1) - There aren't a lot of longshot picks on the board for Sunday, but Ragan is the best of the lot, having won at this track at the 2011 Coke Zero 400. Although he hasn't placed in the top-20 in four races since that victory, Ragan does have three other top-6 showings in his 14 starts in Daytona. His other NASCAR victory came on the other superspeedway on the circuit (last May at Talladega), showing that Ragan is perfectly capable of racing with the leaders on the big track. With triple-digit odds, he could bankroll your NASCAR wagers for the entire season with a victory on Sunday.

Austin Dillon (30/1) - It's not often that you get 30-to-1 odds on a pole position driver, making Dillon an intriguing value play for this weekend. The 23-year-old has raced just 13 times in a NASCAR event with zero top-10 finishes, but he did get to race in the Daytona 500 last season (starting 8th and placing 31st), so he should have a much better feel of how this race will play out this time around.


Check out more NASCAR Odds and Props at Sportsbook.ag!

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NASCAR season officially begins Sunday at Daytona
By: Brian Graham
Statfox.com

Another NASCAR season gets underway with the historic Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon. Daytona International Speedway, completed in 1959, is a 2.5-mile, tri-oval track with huge bankings (31-degree turns, 18-degree tri-oval banking). The frontstrech measures 3,800 feet with the backstretch coming in at 3,000 feet. Jimmie Johnson, who won both races at this track last season, is the favorite to repeat his Daytona 500 victory, but is one of six drivers with the lowest odds on the board (10-to-1).

Drivers to Watch

Tony Stewart (12/1) -
Stewart has yet to win a Daytona 500 race, but he has four career wins at this track, all since 2005, and he's ready to put last year's broken leg behind him and start the season on a positive note. In addition to those wins, "Smoke" has five other top-5 finishes at Daytona including a runner-up to Jimmie Johnson last July in the Coke Zero 400. The odds aren't ultra favorable, but Stewart is our pick to open the 2014 season with a victory.

Denny Hamlin (10/1) - Of all six favorites on the board this week, Hamlin appears to have the best chance to wind up victorious. He could become the first driver ever to sweep the Speedweeks, having won the Sprint Unlimited exhibition and Budweiser Duel 2 at this venue. Although Hamlin has never won a NASCAR race at Daytona, he has led for 237 laps spread out over 11 different races at this track. In addition to his 3rd-place showing back in 2009, he placed 4th in the crazy 2012 Daytona 500 won by Matt Kenseth.

Greg Biffle (25/1) - A strong darkhorse candidate this week is Biffle, who has come very close to winning the Daytona 500 in three of the past four years. He led for 27 laps and placed 3rd in this race in 2010, and after he crashed in 2011, Biffle placed 3rd in the 2012 Daytona 500 that he led for 44 laps, and then came in 6th place in last year's race. With seven career wins on speedways that are at least two miles long, Biffle feels comfortable in this format, and therefore is worthy of a small wager on Sunday.

David Ragan (100/1) - There aren't a lot of longshot picks on the board for Sunday, but Ragan is the best of the lot, having won at this track at the 2011 Coke Zero 400. Although he hasn't placed in the top-20 in four races since that victory, Ragan does have three other top-6 showings in his 14 starts in Daytona. His other NASCAR victory came on the other superspeedway on the circuit (last May at Talladega), showing that Ragan is perfectly capable of racing with the leaders on the big track. With triple-digit odds, he could bankroll your NASCAR wagers for the entire season with a victory on Sunday.

Austin Dillon (30/1) - It's not often that you get 30-to-1 odds on a pole position driver, making Dillon an intriguing value play for this weekend. The 23-year-old has raced just 13 times in a NASCAR event with zero top-10 finishes, but he did get to race in the Daytona 500 last season (starting 8th and placing 31st after a crash), so he should have a much better feel of how this race will play out this time around. But the lack of experience here should limit your wager to no more than one unit.

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Daytona 500 Post-Practice Betting Notes and Top-Rated Drivers
By: Micah Roberts
Sportingnews.com

LAS VEGAS – In sports, you always read the cliché about a sub-.500 team that won its last game of the regular season and says it's "going to carry that momentum over into next season.” Most of the time, the carryover never really comes to fruition.

But in Denny Hamlin’s case, he really is living the cliché -- maybe more than any driver in NASCAR history to utter those words. He’s on the verge of completing the Daytona triple winning the Sprint Unlimited, Budweiser Duel and Daytona 500 in the same year, something no driver has done since the track opened in 1959.

Hamlin’s 2013 season couldn’t have gone worse. It was easily the most frustrating year of his stellar career. He missed races for the first time because of a back injury sustained during a wreck at California Speedway, and then his team struggled as the manufacturer started to use his car as a guinea pig in 2014 test mode. But in the final race of the season at Homestead, Hamlin got the good stuff and led five times for 72 laps to capture the checkers.

At the time, it had to feel like the weight of the world lifted off his shoulders. He could finally exhale, as 2013 wouldn’t be the season where he didn’t win at least one race, something he had done in each of his eight seasons on the Cup circuit. It was also a time where “momentum” and “carryover” were appropriate terms. But this really is some crazy momentum, perhaps the new definition of it.

Here in Las Vegas, the Hamlin fever has caught on a little bit for those looking to find the best number on what looks to be the best car, but the LVH Super Book still shows him as a winner for the house.

“We’ve got Hamlin down to 10-to-1,” said Super Book manager Ed Salmons, who opened Hamlin at 15-to-1. “He looks great, but there’s so many different things that can happen in restrictor-plate racing that the best car doesn’t always win. Last year we saw this same thing happen, and they [Joe Gibbs Racing] didn’t win any of the plate races. In fact, a couple blew engines, and that‘s part of it. Anything can happen.”

Kyle Busch and Kenseth both blew engines in last year's Daytona 500. Hamlin finished 11th. Busch, a native of Las Vegas, is set at 10 to-1 and is a driver that Salmons expected more out of. “I really thought because of Kyle’s driving style that he would have won a Daytona 500 by now.”

Tony Stewart (12/1) has also never won a Daytona 500, and this will be his 16th career start, but Salmons doesn’t think Sunday will be his first victory. “I just don’t see it because he’s coming off the leg injury. I think he’ll slowly ease himself into a comfort zone, which may take a few weeks.”

If Stewart is within the top 10 on the last two laps, his comfort zone could change in a hurry. The discomfort in his leg could be overtaken by the competitive rush he feels if he has a chance to win.

Only 29 drivers participated in the final practice session Friday morning where Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (40/1) was fastest. Fourteen teams passed for fear of wrecking their primary car, but Salmons thinks they missed a golden opportunity despite the dangers.

“I like what I heard Steve Letarte (No. 88 crew chief) talk about ’running Dale Jr. hard today because it was their only chance to prepare under the same conditions of race day,' and it’s a great point. The previous practices and racing [during speedweeks] was done at night, and there is no way everyone can have everything they need without practicing in the same climate.”

Earnhardt Jr. (10/1), who finished 13th in the Friday session, is one of a few drivers the LVH is long on heading into the weekend, when most of the action will come. Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard are others. “I don’t know what the Menard bet was all about,” Salmons said, half chuckling about the large wager on Menard at 60-to-1. But this is Daytona, and anything can happen.

Earnhardt Jr. will be looking for his first Daytona 500 win since 2004. His 12.9 average finish since then is tops among all drivers, and it includes runner-up in three of the past four Daytona 500’s. He is our choice to win on Sunday, but factoring in recent Daytona history and what the Gibbs' cars have shown again, Kenseth, Hamlin and Busch also have to be considered favorites.

Kevin Harvick (10/1), who won the 2007 Daytona 500, comes in as our second-rated driver out of pure respect for his game in restrictor-plate races. His week of runs driving a new car with Stewart-Haas Racing only enhanced his rating.

Remember, up to 35 drivers have a legitimate shot to win Sunday, so there are really no bad selections. It's as about random as as it gets in NASCAR, and because of that, we say just roll the dice and see what happens. Best of all, NASCAR is finally back.

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Re: Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes

Final 2014 Daytona 500 Driver Ratings Following All Practices
By Micah Roberts

RATING       DRIVER   ODDS            SPRINT*      DUELS*     PRAC 3**    PRAC 4**
1. Matt Kenseth 10/1         10th        1st        16th         9th
Two-time Daytona 500 winner; eighth or better in seven of nine Daytona point races prior to 2013.

2. Kevin Harvick 10/1         5th         2nd       24th        DNP
2007 Daytona 500 winner, also won in summer 2010; has proved to be the new master of the draft.

3. Denny Hamlin 10/1        1st          1st        17th        1st
Four Daytona wins, but none during regular season. No driver ever won the triple (Unlimited, Duel, 500).

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 10/1  9th         5th        DNP        12th
2004 Daytona 500 winner; last plate win was 2004 (Talladega); using new chassis (raced in Duel)

5. Kyle Busch 12/1             3rd         21st      22nd       31st 
2008 summer race winner with 18.6 average finish in 18 career starts; too good not to win the 500 yet.

6. Jeff Gordon 18/1           12th        2nd      33rd         14th
NASCAR record 12 restrictor-plate race wins, six each at Daytona and Talladega; still has the knack.

7. Ryan Newman 30/1       8th         10th      DNP         34th
2008 Daytona 500 winner; four top-5 finishes in 24 starts. Will be driving brand new RCR No. 31 chassis.

8. Kurt Busch    22/1         14th        3rd       28th         36th
Two-time Daytona 500 runner-up; using SHR chassis that ran as the No. 39 and twice finished fifth at Daytona

9. Carl Edwards 20/1         13th      15th       27th        19th
2011 Daytona 500 runner-up; finished ninth or better in seven of nine Daytona races from 2007-12

10. Jamie McMurray 30/1    6th      11th        7th          37th
2010 Daytona 500 winner; four of his seven career career Cup wins have come in restrictor-plate races.

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