|Anything can happen in restrictor-plate races and usually does|
Handicapping a NASCAR race involves flowing with the changes. Each Sunday night the week before an upcoming race, I start to break down every driver's tendency at a particular track. Then, there is consideration for current form and recent performances on similar tracks. By the time Tuesday and Wednesday roll around, the information gained via press releases, such as chassis selections, is used to enhance or downgrade a driver rating for the upcoming race. When Friday arrives, we get to see the qualifying times, but the most important and final ingredient for a driver's rating is how he or she fares on longer runs in Saturday's final practice.
I've undertaken this process every week for more than two decades, first when creating odds for the sports books I worked at, and now as I'm making wagers on the other side of the counter.
But much of this process is thrown out the window when analyzing the four restrictor-plate races each season between Daytona and Talladega. Anyone can win a plate race, anyone can get caught up in a wreck and practices mean very little. Ratings are more meaningful at tracks like Richmond or Kansas, so a diligent handicapper's chances are better when wagering on races at tracks such as these. Plate races are volatile crap shoots, and the cream doesn't always rise to the top.
Sprint Unlimited odds: Dale Earnhardt Jr. shares co-favorite status
The best advice for wagering on the Daytona 500 is to drop your normal bankroll to about half of what you invest in a non-plate race. Then, use about 60 percent of that amount on odds to win with five or six drivers, with heavier bets on those with shorter odds. At the other tracks, that ratio should shift dramatically to only 25 percent of your bankroll on odds to win, with the other 75 percent on driver matchups.
But the Daytona 500 is the Super Bowl of NASCAR, so there's nothing wrong with getting a little excited about all these wonderful props and overspending a bit. So, let's take a look at all of them, and I'll share advice where I have it. Also, remember before wagering, there are a couple key components not factored into these props -- i.e., how the cars run during Saturday's Sprint Unlimited and next Thursday's Budweiser Duel races. It's probably the second-most important component of a Daytona 500 driver rating, after recent plate race history.
DAYTONA 500 MATCHUPS, SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2015
DALE EARNHARDT JR -120
KEVIN HARVICK +100
The Linemakers' lean: Let's go with Junior here, as Harvick wasn't so spectacular in plate races last season. In addition, Junior is statistically the most consistent driver at Daytona.
DALE EARNHARDT JR -120
BRAD KESELOWSKI +100
No lean: Keselowski is a good candidate to win, so no thanks here against another top candidate.
KEVIN HARVICK -110
BRAD KESELOWSKI -110
The Linemakers' lean: Keselowski has yet to win at Daytona, but he's proven his worth at Talladega with three wins. He had a career-best third-place finish at the 2014 Daytona 500
Read More Here......lots more props from the Westgate