|Denny Hamlin was one of the standouts during Daytona testing (Getty)|
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LAS VEGAS – Many of us got our much needed NASCAR fix last week, when 35 drivers participated in a three-day test session at Daytona. The drivers and crews needed to get a feel for the new sixth-generation car, but in the process, they created even more of a fan yearning for Speedweeks. The 2013 NASCAR season is right around the corner.
Daytona 500 odds have been posted for about a month throughout Las Vegas sports books, and watching the test sessions gave a little more insight into who may have an edge. We’re apparently going to see more pack racing in a similar fashion we saw 10 years ago. Speeds got over 199 mph when drivers got hooked up in the draft, but drivers were very cautious with bump drafting.
The team that looked the most dialed in was Joe Gibbs Racing, led by two-time Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth. All three JGR cars were fast, both in and out of the draft. The Aliante sports book has Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch all at 12-to-1 to take the checkers at Daytona.
Another driver who looked strong in testing is Jeff Burton, who was fastest in one of the sessions. Burton is currently listed at 50-to-1 for Daytona. He’s never been known as a great plate racer – he has only one win in his career between Daytona and Talladega (the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in 2000), but has been very close the last couple of seasons. With a smaller, lighter car, who knows? Maybe this will be his chance to finally win the Daytona 500. And the odds make him a tempting choice.
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VIDEO: ROBERTS TALKING ABOUT TESTING AND POSSIBLE VALUE
Las Vegas Test Session Date Moved
Before I could even got excited about confirming news that a test session was scheduled for Las Vegas Motor Speedway in late January, the date was changed. I never knew there was one scheduled to begin with. It was never posted on their site. But LVMS confirmed that the change was made because Goodyear didn't have the tire compound they wanted to test ready. The all-day session has been moved to Thursday, March 7, just before the Las Vegas NASCAR race weekend. Between Charlotte testing this week and Las Vegas prior to the Vegas race, we should have a pretty good idea on who will be the drivers to beat in the new car when they take their first crack at a 1.5-mile track.