Saturday, February 25, 2012

Daytona 500 Wagerers Back Danica Patrick


Patrick has the car and crew to be a success in Cup series
Danica Patrick has yet to make a start in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, but if the action in Las Vegas sports books is any indication, she already is the sport's biggest star.

Patrick opened at 100-1 at the LVH SuperBook to win Sunday's Daytona 500, her first Cup start, and currently is 60-1.

"Right now we have the most tickets written on Patrick among all the drivers," LVH SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay said. "She also has the third-most money wagered on her, behind Las Vegan Kyle Busch and the pole sitter, Carl Edwards."

Looking at public betting patterns in major events like the Daytona 500, as opposed to average events, offers great insight into what the masses are thinking.

"The Daytona 500 attracts more than just race fans, it attracts sports fans," Kornegay said. "Most of the tickets on Patrick are from fans, not gamblers."

The lure of betting on Patrick is far beyond the large odds, her looks or being only the third female to start in the Daytona 500. Although she's still learning how to handle the heavier stock cars, there's no denying Patrick comes into the Cup series with an impressive resume from the IndyCar Series, where she finished third in the 2009 Indianapolis 500.

Recent IndyCar drivers have struggled in their transition to stock cars, but none was given the type of car Patrick will drive in her limited Cup schedule this year. Not only did she jump into a car produced by 2011 Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, she also has a crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, who won two championships with Stewart at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Another advantage for Patrick is that all the drivers are adjusting to changes designed to stop two-car tandem racing. With less rear downforce because of a smaller spoiler, a smaller radiator to stop cars from being glued to each other's bumper and no radio communication among drivers, it has made them a little less aggressive and put them all on the same learning curve.

The strategy for Patrick will be to stay out of trouble and finish the race. She probably won't learn enough during the race to make the required winning move on the final lap, but she should be able to finish on the lead lap.

The LVH has a proposition on Patrick's finish at 25½ (over-120) that is intriguing because of how safe she will drive in NASCAR's premier event. With her strategy and the volatility all the changes for this race might produce, 18 cars could be wiped out in a few wrecks, leaving her, almost by default, with a finish of 25th.

Betting on Patrick to win is quite a long shot, but one never knows what might happen at Daytona. Last year, Trevor Bayne made his Daytona 500 debut and won at 100-1 odds.

"Would it be a great story if she won? Yes," Kornegay said. "But it wouldn't be a great story for us."

The Daytona 500 is the biggest crapshoot of the year and one of the least-bet races by professional bettors. Following trends and practice tendencies that are helpful at other tracks are thrown out the window here.

The odds reflect the race's history of uncertainty, with no driver listed under 10-1 at LVH. The Fords have looked strong throughout Speedweeks, but the best bet might be to side with a Chevrolet driven by Stewart (10-1), Jeff Gordon (12-1) or Jamie McMurray (18-1). Kurt Busch (25-1) will offer a nice long-shot opportunity driving the same Chevy chassis that Brad Keselowski used to win at Talladega in 2009.

Micah Roberts, a former sports book director, has been setting NASCAR lines in Las Vegas since 1995. He can be reached at, or Twitter: @MicahRoberts7.

Daytona 500 Starting Lineup

No comments: