After nearly four months of waiting for any kind of NASCAR racing, we sure got our cravings satisfied over the weekend with a wreck-filled Sprint Unlimited and Daytona 500 qualifying.
Sure, we can all say we don’t like crashes and only the feeble-minded are attracted to the sport because of it, but come on, we’ve been waiting for anything NASCAR for so long and they showed up with a literal bang.
I didn’t need to learn that much because the cars ran almost exactly like last season. That was my biggest fear coming into the season without preseason testing – the uncertainty. And while you can never be certain about any restrictor-plate racing because of the volatile nature, we can be certain there is nothing new that will throw us for a loop like tandem racing did a couple years ago.
We can almost say the racing is a continuation of 2014 and that was confirmed when Joe Gibbs Racing finished first and third in the Sprint Unlimited and Hendrick Motorsports put two of their cars on the front row during Daytona 500 qualifying. Last season JGR won the Sprint Unlimited, both Budweiser Duel races as well as the first Talladega race while HMS won the Daytona 500 with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Despite having a good read on who has the competitive advantage, it stills means very little in the grand scheme of things because things happen so fast at Daytona where one lap you’re leading and the next lap you’re involved in a 14-car pile up.
Because of that volatile nature, you don’t want to go crazy with wagers. Yes, we’re excited because racing is back, but you also have to be realistic and play the percentages.
Next week in Atlanta following practices, the odds are in your favor as the top drivers will hold more true to their rating; you’ll start with maybe eight drivers who present the best value at the beginning of the week, then you’ll narrow it down to maybe four or five after final practices and then have a great shot at showing a profit for the week.
For Daytona, even though we’re all excited about it being the first real race of the year, you should be betting only half of what your normal weekly NASCAR bankroll is.
There will be 43 drivers starting in Sunday’s race; 35 of them have a legitimate shot to win. Next week in Atlanta, there are only 15 drivers a legitimate case can be made for.
Translation: Daytona odds favor the sports books, which is why most are willing to give double-digit odds to win on all of them. You won’t see a favorite as high as 10-1 on any other non-restrictor plate track like Earnhardt Jr. is this week at the Westgate book.
This week, we get some kind of NASCAR racing almost every day up until Sunday. There will be two practices on Wednesday, a practice Thursday and then two Budweiser Duel qualifying races later that night on which wagering will also be offered. Friday there are two more practices then final practice Saturday and the Great American Race on Sunday. That’s quite a bit of action to take in for one week after being starved for so long.
My wagers will be spread across a few of the Gibbs drivers, Dale Jr. and Brad Keselowski (12-1) in matchups and odds to win. I’ll also throw in a couple of long shots like Greg Biffle, 35-1, and Paul Menard, 50-1.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].