|Who really has a shot at winning Daytona 500?|
Because of limited testing, we have to find our own wake-up call that NASCAR is just around the corner, and mine came on a walk through several Las Vegas sports books on Wednesday afternoon to find the best value for Sprint Cup and Daytona 500 odds.
Over the last few days, I have been baffled by what to expect at not only Daytona, but the entire 2015 Sprint Cup season. I made a few calls and talked to some respected people in the garages, and came away feeling somewhat satisfied that we won't be blindsided by rapid change at Daytona, a track whose races are always up for grabs for a large pool of drivers -- see Aric Almirola’s win last year in the Coke Zero 400.
But with up to 60 changes in the rules package, does that mean racing at Daytona will be different this year?
I was assured by several smarts that they expect the racing to be very similar to what we saw last season and that the majority of solid set-up notes from 2014 will still apply this year. If that’s the case, we should see Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing excel throughout Daytona Speedweeks.
Last year, JGR’s Denny Hamlin won the Sprint Unlimited and a Budweiser Duels race, but Hendrick’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. would halt the Daytona-triple by winning the Daytona 500, his first win on the track since 2004. Hamlin would go on to win at Talladega, the other restrictor-plate track, followed by Almirola's win in the summer at Daytona and then Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski at Talladega during the Chase.
Between all my stops throughout town, I was most impressed with the concerted effort by Caesars Palace’s chain of sports books. The Westgate SuperBook and William Hill U.S. set the standard for lowest theoretic hold in the city, and Caesars/Harrah’s used to be second-tier in that regard. Not anymore. Not only do their NASCAR odds compare well with the top books in the city, but it also extends to their future prices in NFL, MLB and NBA.
Hail Caesar, big high-five!
The chart below allows you to shop for the best Daytona 500 odds in Las Vegas. I hit all of these places in a relatively quick amount of time, so if you’ve got five to six drivers you like, do yourself a favor – take a walk and find maximum value.
The juiciest numbers look like Earnhardt Jr. at 12-to-1 (Westgate), Hamlin at 15-to-1 (William Hill, Stations), Tony Stewart at 25-to-1 (Stations), Almirola at 60-to-1 (MGM) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at 60-to-1 (MGM).
We’ll be talking Daytona for the next month and keeping our ears open. Just like any sport, information is key and right now info is at a premium because the books are in the dark just as much as the bettors.
Every Las Vegas books' Daytona 500 odds