Saturday, July 2, 2016

Coke Zero 400 Betting Notes

Kyle Busch is 12/1 this week at Daytona.
The best way to handicap Sprint Cup restrictor-plate races might be to randomly pull a car number out of a hat.

Bettors have to tread lightly four times a season with their bankrolls in these races because driver ratings don’t hold true as they do at tracks such as Texas or Phoenix. Of the 40 drivers starting Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona’s massive 2.5-mile layout, 35 have a legitimate shot to win because of the volatile nature of the track and cars being so equal.

Sports books make major adjustments in weekly odds to reflect the equality of the cars. Three weeks ago at Michigan, Danica Patrick was 500-1. This week she’s 80-1 because two of her six career top-10 finishes are at Daytona. She has a chance to win Saturday, which can’t be said in the 32 races on other types of tracks.

Daytona has produced some long-shot winners. Aric Almirola won the rain-shortened summer race in 2014 for his first career victory and paid 60-1. David Ragan won his first career race in the summer of 2011 and paid 50-1. Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 in his first attempt on the track and paid 100-1.

While the books chop down the odds on the long shots, they also offer more generous odds with drivers on the power teams. Denny Hamlin, who dominated Daytona Speedweeks in February with Sprint Unlimited and Daytona 500 wins, is 10-1 at the Westgate.

His Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch are each at 12-1, and Martin Truex Jr. is at 15-1. Four of the top five finishers in the Daytona 500 were JGR cars, and the Gibbs driver who didn’t make it, Matt Kenseth, led 40 of the final 41 laps and got shuffled to 14th on the last lap.

Those trends from February sound like results from JGR at Kentucky’s 1.5-mile layout, not a superspeedway where randomness is supposed to be the key. But also consider that within a second of Hamlin at the finish line were Kyle Larson (seventh) and Regan Smith (eighth), and less than two seconds behind were Almirola (12th) and Michael McDowell (15th).


Because he is one of the best plate racers in NASCAR history and sports books know the public is going to bet on him, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is usually the favorite in any plate race.

He has won four times in 33 Daytona races and six at Talladega. He won this race last season and two of the past five. But he finished 36th at the 500 in February and last at Talladega in May.

Read More Betting Notes

Micah Roberts' Sprint Cup Ratings for Daytona

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