NASCAR week that only Vegas can provide

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For 51 weeks out of the year the folks at Las Vegas Motor Speedway have been prepping for what has become the greatest annual show in town.

This is NASCAR week where over 100,000 visitors will come loaded with cash and ready to party in a way that only Las Vegas can provide. Last year those visitors had a $144 million impact in non-gaming revenue.

It’s not only a favorite for fans, but for the drivers and crew members who can blend in with the thousands in town who aren’t here for the race. Try that in Bristol or Martinsville. That’s how well prepped Las Vegas is; the city doesn’t even blink with such a big event.

Las Vegas always has beautiful spring weather this time of year and this weekend will be no different as all three days are expected to be perfect. You kind of had to feel sorry for all those freezing fans at Atlanta last week, but as a Las Vegan, I felt like waving my “Las Vegas No. 1” big foamy finger.

I’ve been to several races across the country and nothing matches what Las Vegas and the Speedway provide. The racing itself on the high-banked 1.5-mile oval is ordinary, but where we stand out is the amenities. No other track in the country has anything like the Neon Garage where fans can stand above the garages and watch the crews go to work prepping their cars over the weekend.

It’s amazing Las Vegas hasn’t been awarded a second race date because of all its strengths that other tracks lack, but having it only once a year adds to the appeal.

Every sports book in town will increase their betting options Super Bowl-style and because of a captive audience, the Las Vegas race generates more volume than any other on the season – in some cases four times more action than the second most bet race, the Daytona 500. That February race has odds posted up to three months before it goes off.

The large action for the Las Vegas race is generated in just one week with odds posted on Monday.

Last week we suggested whenever NASCAR makes changes to the set-up requirements it’s a good bet Hendrick Motorsports will find the edge quickest and that turned out to be the case as Jimmie Johnson grabbed his fourth career Atlanta win and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third. Kevin Harvick was strong (led the most laps), as was the Joe Gibbs Racing stable and Penske’s Joey Logano.

The Atlanta disappointments include 2012 Las Vegas winner Tony Stewart and Roush Fenway Racing, who won eight of the 17 Las Vegas Cup races. There is no reason to believe they’ll have things figured out in one week and it could be profitable to bet against them in driver match-ups.

While Logano, Johnson, Harvick and Earnhardt Jr. have finished in the top-5 of both races so far this season, Jeff Gordon currently sits at No. 36 in the standings with two straight poor performances. However, he was involved in wrecks in both, which isn’t exactly the farewell tour he had imagined to begin the year.

Gordon’s team is too good to continue this run of bad luck and with good weather, great notes from Atlanta testing, and simply being Jeff Gordon – arguably the greatest driver in NASCAR history, he’s got a lot going for him. Several sports books may think his chances of winning are slimmer than they really are and offer some juicy prices on him.

I’m a sucker for great stories in NASCAR whether it’s Dale Earnhardt finally winning the Daytona 500 in 1998, DEI drivers Michael Waltrip and Steve Park winning races immediately after their boss passed, Harvick winning as a rookie at Atlanta in Earnhardt’s car, or Earnhardt Jr. winning at Daytona in the summer of 2001 in the first race there since his father passed. It would be great to see him close out his Las Vegas career with a win.

Most of all, enjoy what Las Vegas has to offer. This isn’t just another race, it’s the best of them all. 

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].

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