|Brad Keselowski won the last race at Daytona in July.|
So drop that green flag and let's get this party started, but first let's explore a few notes that can hopefully help assist before dropping a few bucks at the sports book.
DAYTONA 500 EDGE IS WITH BOOKS
Sure it's been a long off-season and sports books are offering dozens of Super Bowl style props, but don't get carried away and over extend yourself. It's only one race and the edge rests with the book as it does with all restrictor-plate races at Daytona at Talladega because it’s a crap shoot. Almost any of the 40 cars has a chance to win because the plates make them more equal than any of the other types of tracks.
You can look at all the past history of Daytona or Talladega to get a read on what drivers fare well, but the volatility of those tracks make it more possible for a driver you wagered on to get caught up in a massive random wreck. It's less likely to happen on a track like Las Vegas or Phoenix, and you also don't have the quality edge of reading relevant practice times like you would on those tracks.
Practices are usually the final equation to nailing down three of four drivers to win, but at Daytona the practices mean little and qualifying means little. Daytona qualifying is set with single lap times which don't equate to anything on race day and the practices are times captured within the draft which don't fully detail the true measure of individual car speeds like those at Phoenix.
Example: When looking at practice speeds and see someone like Paul Menard with the second fastest lap, you don't know if he's really that fast or if he's the product of being in the draft with Earnhardt Jr. or Kyle Busch.
All that uncertainty in the betting process gives the sports book the edge which is why I usually reduce my wagering bankroll with more emphasis placed on odds to win between five or six drivers and less on the matchups and props. However, while I say that, I often find myself getting caught up in the Daytona 500 hype and extend myself more than intended. It's not smart, but sometimes I like rolling the dice when the odds are stacked against me. It's more about being starved for NASCAR action after hibernating for two months.
REST OR RUST FOR JUNIOR?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has two Daytona 500 wins and is the active leader with 10 restrictor-plate wins over his career which is part of the reason why he's the favorite to win Sunday, where he starts on the front row alongside teammate Chase Elliott.
But as a bettor, you have to wonder how the psyche of Junior will be after missing the final 18 races last season with a concussion and also missing Sunday's Clash. In baseball, when a pitcher comes off the disabled list he's usually a good bet-against. Earnhardt talked to the media about his approach going into the race.
“Of course I’m human, and I’m going to be concerned and worry and (take) precautions, and so forth,” he said. “But to be able to win the qualifying race, and to be able to win the Daytona 500, you’ve got to race with no fear. I know that when I get in the car, I can’t have any concerns. I can’t have any worry or fret, or I’ll drive completely different.
"I know what result I can get driving with no fear, and I know what kind of result I’ll get if I go out there with even a sliver of apprehension. I won’t be able to go out there and win the race. Once you second-guess yourself one time, it snowballs, and it just continues throughout the rest of the race."
William Hill sports books have his ‘over-under’ finish position at 6.5 (OV -135) which is the lowest number in the field.
ISSUES WITH THE CHAMP AND HENDRICK?
Reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson failed to finish the Clash at Daytona for the sixth straight season, which has me a little weary about wagering on the two-time Daytona 500 champ as well as his teammates. On two separate occasions Sunday he spun out and it was at the same spot.
“Just off of Turn 4," Johnson said after the race. "The sun certainly sits on that edge of the track a little bit harder than anywhere else. We will take some notes and learn from those mistakes and apply that to the 500 car.”
Hendrick teammate Earnhardt Jr. was in the broadcast booth calling the race and eluded that both he and teammate Elliott had the same problem with sticking around the turn in last season’s Daytona 500 where he finished 36th and Elliott finished 37th. So the question is whether or not the team can make the appropriate changes.
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