Tuesday, February 18, 2014

LVH post 2014 Budwesier Duel odds: Race 1 looks like the tougher group

Could Hamlin be the third Sprint Unlimited winner in 4 years to win a Duel
LAS VEGAS -- One of the great traditions of Daytona Speedweeks since 1959 has been the twin set of 60-lap qualifying races now known as the Budweiser Duels. Austin Dillon and Martin Truex Jr., based on their top qualifying times, are the only drivers locked into position for Sunday's Daytona 500. Everyone else will have to see how things shake out in these two races Thursday night. Of the 49 drivers competing between the two events, six will go home after the 43-car field is set.

Of course, here in Las Vegas, we can't let the green flag drop for a NASCAR event without offering odds on it, and on Tuesday the LVH SuperBook released its odds to win each race, as well as a set of individual driver matchups.

The first race looks to offer the more competitive field, with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick the co-favorites at 5-to-1. This race also features Tony Stewart (8-to-1), and these five drivers have 10 Budweiser Duel wins among them.

Rookie Austin Dillon (15-to-1) will get to show the world his moves for the first time in a competitive race driving the famed No. 3, the number with which Dale Earnhardt won a record 11 Duels (Earnhardt won a total of 12 Duels). Dillon will likely go in with the plan of being cautious and keeping the pole-sitting car out of trouble, but once the race is on, it'll be hard for him to follow through with that conservative approach.

Duel 2 features Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin as 5-to-1 co-favorites, but the driver with the most historical significance in terms of this event is Jeff Gordon (8-to-1), who leads all active drivers with five Duel wins, the last coming in 2009. The five wins have him tied for third all-time with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, just behind Cale Yarborough (6) and Earnhardt.

None of the other drivers in the second race have more than one Duel victory.

Along with Gordon, Hamlin should be looked at closely. Although the chassis for the Sprint Unlimited and Duels are different – drivers use their Daytona 500 cars in the Duels – we have seen four of the past seven Sprint Unlimited winners win one of the Duels. Harvick did the double last year, and Kurt Busch did it two years earlier in 2011.

In the first race, it looks as though the Stewart-Haas team might have an edge since three of their cars can help each other out in the draft. That teammate theory also applies to Hendrick, Gibbs and Childress pairings, but the Stewart-Harvick trio (Harvick, Stewart and Danica Patrick) could be a formidable force.

Read More Here......LVH Budweiser Duel Odds to Win/Matchups

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