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Sprint Unlimited Betting News and Notes

Sprint Unlimited Betting News and Notes

Dale Earnhardt Jr. among favorites to win Sprint Unlimited At Daytona
By: Micah Roberts

LAS VEGAS -- It’s that time of year again when the rumble of engines at Daytona is a far better sign that spring is coming than a Pennsylvania groundhog seeing his own shadow. It was only November when we bid farewell to the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, and despite the short offseason, the thought of hearing these new Gen-6 cars gets the blood pumping like few other sports can.

And of course, whenever there is Cup racing on the track, there is betting at the Las Vegas sports books. On Wednesday the LVH SuperBook posted its odds to win the Sprint Unlimited, formerly known as the Bud Shootout. It’s a 75-lap non-points race scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16 under the Daytona lights.

Unlike regular-season races, the Shootout is supposed to be a competition among the best of the best. It’s by invitation only. No start-and-park drivers, no hobos. The only way a driver gets to participate is by having won a pole the previous season or having won a Shootout in seasons past.

But we can’t quite call this year’s field the best of the best, since the top two drivers from last season’s standings aren’t eligible under this year’s requirements. Even though Brad Keselowski won the championship and Clint Bowyer finished second, we’ll have to wait until the following week to see them race in the main event, the Daytona 500.

This will be the first time the Cup champion hasn't participated in the Shootout since 2004, when '03 champ Matt Kenseth didn’t meet the requirements.

But we’ll get over it. The bottom line is that they’re racing again with 22 drivers eligible and bettors in Las Vegas getting their first chance at beating the sports books with their NASCAR knowledge.

We got a little tease in January with pre-season testing at Daytona, where the Joe Gibbs cars and Fords looked to be right on the mark with the new sixth-generation cars. But what we’ll see under race conditions in the Shootout should go a long way in shaping final opinions about who will win the Daytona 500. That is, of course, unless you sought additional data on Keselowski and Bowyer. For that, you’ll have to wait until Daytona 500 practices and the Budweiser Duels.

The Shootout drivers will have two practice sessions on Friday, Feb. 15 beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Here’s a look at the LVH odds to win and matchups:





















FIELD 30-1





JEFF GORDON (-110) vs. TONY STEWART (-110)

KASEY KAHNE (-110) vs. CARL EDWARDS (-110)


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Re: Sprint Unlimited Betting News and Notes

Sprint Unlimited Preview
By Micah Roberts

It seems like an eternity since we last saw some NASCAR Racing, but it's only been two months, and a lot of stuff has happened during that span making this a completely different season from anything we have seen. The main change that will be the storyline for the first few months of the season is how the new Generation-6 car handles on all the differing type of tracks.

We've seen change before with the Car of Tomorrow, but NASCAR gradually brought that car in slowly to certain tracks before unleashing it all at once on a season. Every driver on the track for the next two weeks will all have a major learning curve to figure out how far they can push their cars in the draft and whoever figures it first will have a major edge in next week's Daytona 500.
For a lucky few, they'll get to test out the new Gen-6 car in competitive racing action Saturday night at Daytona for the Sprint Unlimited, a 75-lap non-points race that used to be known as the Bud Shootout. Drivers who sat on the pole last season or won previous Bud Shootouts are eligible to participate. Twenty-two drivers are eligible, but the top two finishers in points last season -- Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer -- aren't among them.

While it would have been nice to see Keselowski and Bowyer racing, it's still going to fun watching all the other well known drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon mixing it up.

We got to see the teams test the new car in Daytona last month and I came away highly impressed with all the Joe Gibbs cars. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and new teammate Matt Kenseth will be a formidable group to contend with this week and in two weeks for the Daytona 500. Busch won this race last season and Hamlin won as a rookie in 2006. All Kenseth has done over his career is win two Daytona 500's, including last season. Kenseth's the new guy and adapting to that role.

"I've never been in this position, but the first time you walk in a team's shop that has a driver who's leaving and you're coming in to drive that guy's car, there's always that anxiety," Kenseth told USA Today. "Oh man, that guy, they really loved him. I hope they accept me and like me. You want to fit in and be one of the guys. ... I feel like the rookie. I've got my ears and eyes wide open, although it doesn't take me long to voice my opinions."

Joey Logano was a likeable kid in the Gibbs organization, but as Kyle Busch points out, Kenseth's experience makes him invaluable to the team.

"Matt's a huge addition to the team," said Busch. "That was one of the reasons that JGR looked at him, just having that leadership value. He's the new guy, but he's the old guy on the totem pole in experience."

By looking at the odds, it's obvious the guys at the LVH Super Book were also impressed with the JGR crew. Busch and Kenseth are co-favorites at 8-to-1 with Hamlin at 10-to-1.

Kevin Harvick is a two-time winner of the Shootout, winning in 2009 and 2010, and is always a candidate to run well in restrictor-plate races. Harvick tested well in January and should be battling the leaders on the final lap.

Tony Stewart has won the Shootout three times in his career, the last being in 2007.

When the COT came out, the Hendrick organization was way ahead of the game and dominated right out of the gate which gives the team confidence heading into Daytona.

"I don't think anybody is better than Hendrick Motorsports when it comes to adapting to new cars and being prepared," Gordon said. "I feel very confident in the team - and our organization - to come out strong and remain strong throughout the year."

"The Sprint Unlimited also gives us a great opportunity for the drivers to understand what we're dealing with for the Budweiser Duels (qualifying races on Thursday) as well as the Daytona 500. I think the racing at Daytona will be extremely exciting, and the new car will push us to explore all options to see what might work in the draft - especially what might work with only two or three laps-to-go."

"If a driver can find an advantage in the draft, you can be sure it will be exploited in the final laps of the Daytona 500," said Gordon.

Gordon last won the Shootout when it was called the Busch Clash in 1997, but he does lead all drivers with 12 restrictor-plate wins over his career. It's important to note that those plate wins have come in all type of cars with all kinds of different rules and templates meaning that Gordon may be the most prepared for the unknown this week just because of experience.

Johnson has one Shootout win over his career (2005), while Earnhardt, Jr. is a two-time winner, the last coming in 2008.

While I was most impressed with the Gibbs Toyota's during the pre-season testing -- followed by the Waltrip Toyota's, I still got the feeling that the Fords were going to once again be dangerous in the plate races this season. Greg Biffle was fastest in one of those sessions while testing in drafting situations. We can expect Biffle and Edwards to be up there running near the front as well.

For Biffle, simply getting additional track time participating in Saturday's race will be a big deal.

"It's been a big advantage every year for the guys that are in the Sprint Unlimited, for the little bit of extra track time, but this year it is even more important because of the Gen 6 car, Biffle said earlier this week. "So on top of that, the fans having a choice how the race is formatted, is unprecedented. It's going to be fun to see what the fans decide; there are a few options and we are prepared for all the scenarios."

The fans get to vote and decide the starting order, but none of that really matters to the overall equation. If this were a road race, it would be a big deal, but within the first three laps, they'll be shuffled and within reach of each other regardless of where they started.

The best value on the board looks to be Mark Martin at 25-to-1 in his MWR Toyota. Martin won the 1999 Shootout, but should have a car good enough to possibly get him the win. The odds make him even more attractive.

"Saturday night is going to be fun," said Martin. "Not only will the fans vote on some of the race rules, but this is the very first time we will race the Gen-6 car. We really don't know what to expect. Based on all the wild stuff we saw in just a few laps of drafting at the test, I can guarantee it's going to be exciting."

It will be exciting and we're glad to have you all back. Now let's go racing!

Top-5 Finish Prediction

1) #20 Matt Kenseth (8/1)
2) #55 Mark Martin (25/1)
3) #11 Denny Hamlin (8/1)
4) #29 Kevin Harvick (8/1)
5) #16 Greg Biffle (12/1)

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Re: Sprint Unlimited Betting News and Notes

Sprint Unlimited Practice Notes at Daytona
By: Micah Roberts

All 19 drivers participating in Friday’s first practice session in preparation for Saturday's Sprint Unlimited at Daytona came in with hopes of finding out more about how their new Gen-6 cars would handle in the draft. But within the first 10 minutes of the session, a small pack of cars racing together got tangled up in an accident. Matt Kenseth lost control of his car and wrecked four other cars making it look similar to the pile-up that occurred in the preseason test session at Daytona in January.

The learning curve carried on into the second practice session, and will continue Saturday as all 45 drivers attempting to qualify for the Daytona 500 will get some practice time. Drivers were left with many of their questions unanswered. When they resumed the session following the wreck, every driver either ran laps alone or were in a very cautious pack of five cars.

Joey Logano mentioned that the Gen-6 car didn’t open the hole in the draft as well as the older cars and that it pushed like an ARCA car.

Some drivers like Martin Truex Jr. packed it up and said they didn’t need any more practice because it’s not worth risking a car. He didn’t run in the second session. Neither did six other drivers.

It’s almost as if the drivers are acknowledging that it will be better for them to learn the new cars on the fly, and that it’s inevitable wrecks are going to happen because of the uncertainties.

We use the term “packs” loosely, as drivers were not bumper to bumper pushing each other. Each driver in Friday's packs gave the other plenty of room up front and behind as if they were reading a bumper sticker that said, “if you can read this, you’re driving too close.”

This leads me to believe we’ll see a very cautious Sprint Unlimited with little risks taken until the final five laps. Chances are the driver leading late won’t have as tough a challenge holding off drivers behind them because the draft will be trickier than ever, or at least as tough as it’s been since Dale Jarrett dominated speed weeks in 2000.

As for the actual practice times, Kevin Harvick led the way in the first session with a top lap at 197.365 mph, one of five drivers above 197 mph. Harvick was the recipient of being one of luckiest dogs on the day by skillfully maneuvering through the wreck in front of him unscathed.

Denny Hamlin was fastest in the late session at 196.053 mph while only 11 other weary drivers participated. Jimmie Johnson stayed away from trouble in both sessions, and also stayed away from speed. He was the slowest in both practice sessions.

There really is nothing major to report here other than the cautiousness of the drivers. They’re all on the same learning curve. It will be interesting to see how many cars are ruined from the lesser financed teams in Daytona 500 practice on Saturday.

The Sprint Unlimited, formally known as the Bud Shootout, is schedule to begin at 8:10 p.m. ET. The first Daytona 500 practice is set to begin at 11:00 a.m. ET.

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