Saturday, February 25, 2012

Final Daytona 500 Driver Ratings Following All Practice Sessions

Micah Roberts Driver Ratings
Daytona 500
Daytona International Speedway
Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 10:16 am (PDT)

Rating Driver    Odds       Qualified  Practice 3   Duels*  Shootout*

1. Tony Stewart 10/1            3rd           12th          1st          2nd
17 Daytona wins over career, but none in the Daytona 500; 2004 runner-up.

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

3. Jamie McMurray 18/1     19th         28th         10th          16th
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
Three-time Daytona 500 runner-up; using winning '09 Talladega chassis driven by Keselowski.

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

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

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr 12/1     5th         42nd           2nd         20th
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
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
No plate race wins, but getting close; using runner-up chassis from 2011 Daytona 500

10. Elliott Sadler 30/1        10th         13th           4th          DNP
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.

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

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-to-1 last year.

Drivers that have high odds this week who 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.

Final Daytona 500 Practice

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