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I didn’t have Kurt Busch to win Sunday’s Daytona 500 at 25-to-1 odds, but did do well on several props bets. But the most wagering fun I had Sunday was the least amount of what I had wagered.

I took part in the exotic pari-mutuel style betting on the 500 race through USFantasy Sports, which was offered at Station Casinos and several other books around Nevada.

I made $2 exacta wagers on two separate pools of drivers where the combinations came out to $32 each. In the first pool, asking to pick the best finishers among 10 drivers listed (not necessarily the winner), the Joey Logano-Martin Truex Jr. $2 exacta paid out at $573.60. I also played the daily double between each pool where Logano tied to Kurt Busch paid $104.60. I had several combinations on two different tickets that ended up costing $40 each.

Not a lot of risk, but it was tons of fun and added to the excitement of the race. It was the same feeling I had when looking at my horse racing combination over a two minute duration, except this was over three hours.

The same people involved with USFantasy Sports were the ones who came up with MegaSports at the turn of the century. Bet the drivers like the horses. For those that wager NASCAR regularly and haven’t tried it, give it a shot. So much fun!

South Point success

I also want to thank the South Point for putting on an amazing show with its Daytona 500 viewing party where they gave away Las Vegas NASCAR tickets and other prizes along with incredible drink specials.

I used to visit the NASCAR Cafe here in town a couple times a year just because it’s fun being around like-minded people yelling at their drivers. The gathering at the South Point allowed me to mingle with up to 500 different fans and also gave me a monster movie screen in the showroom to watch the race. It was an absolute thrill done with total  class, which is in line with just about everything owner Michael Gaughan does there. We also got a bonus with Vegas home boy Kurt Busch winning the race and Mr. Gaughan’s son, Brendan, finishing 11th.

This Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway gives us a chance to get back to handicapping the basics as opposed to trying to dissect the randomness of Daytona, where almost any driver can win. Instead of 36 drivers having a chance at victory, the list of legitimate drivers to win at Atlanta stretches to maybe 14.

Of course, the odds will reflect that as well, but the added bonus is getting a normal weekend of practices that actually matter on Friday and Saturday. This is where you’ll get the final pieces of the puzzle to who will likely win. Even before the qualifying and practices, you can narrow down who the best drivers are by closely looking at what happened on 1.5-mile tracks last year and drivers’ historical performances at the Atlanta’s high-banked 1.5-mile layout.

Here’s a refresher to what happened in last season’s 11 races on 1.5-mile tracks. We basically had different stages of dominance during the year. Jimmie Johnson kicked it all off with his second win in a row at Atlanta to give him five in 25 starts there. He slumped during the summer before winning at Charlotte and closed out the season at Homestead, which gave him his seventh Cup title.

In between those bookend Johnson wins on 1.5’s, it was Joe Gibbs Racing powered engines winning five of the races, Brad Keselowski winning twice and Kevin Harvick winning in October at Kansas. Martin Truex Jr. led a series-high 883 laps between those 11 races and there’s no reason to suggest he won’t be just as good this season.

One of the biggest changes that happened in the off-season was Stewart Haas Racing moving from Chevrolet to Ford. While they started out with a big bang winning the Daytona 500, this race at Atlanta will be telling to see how good the team will really be.

I would be more inclined to believe there will be a slight drop-off in their collective performance more than believing they’re going to be just as good or comparable to the Fords of Team Penske. Practices on Friday and Saturday will give answers to that question.

Mint 400 odds

For the second year in a row and only the second time in Las Vegas history, the Golden Nugget race and sportsbook has posted odds to win Saturday’s Mint 400. The famed off-road race starts and finishes near Primm. Nugget sportsbook director Tony Miller said he was surprised by the volume they attracted last year so it was only natural to post the odds again.

The Nugget has offered odds to win in two different classes with the Trick Trucks being the most competitive. Justin Lofton is the 4-1 favorite while Rob MacCrachren and Andy McMillin are each 5-1. In Class 1500, Harley Letner is the 3-1 favorite followed by Sam Berri at 4-1.

The day for fans to go downtown and wager at the Nugget is Friday when all the drivers will interact and their cars will be on display. Last year they came out in big numbers and it was reflected in the wagering.

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