The greatest show for families in
Las Vegas history, the NHRA Drag Racing Nationals, comes to town again this
weekend. It’s the first of two visits for the NHRA circuit to the Strip at the
Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Take all the major sporting
events in America and do a price estimate of what it will cost to take a family
of four. After tabulating the parking, tickets, snacks, lunch, soft drinks and
overall uniqueness, there is no better value than an NHRA event.
Every NHRA ticket is essentially
a pit pass. After the cars rip through the quarter mile behind the thundering
7,000 horse powered engines, the crew goes back to their tent and tears down the
engine. They clean every part and then put it back together with speed and
precision so effortlessly.
While this is going on, the
drivers are generally standing right there waiting for autograph seeking fans.
They even furnish the photos for free. Fans have total access in the pit area,
allowing them to freely converse with the crews and drivers. Children who go to
these events instantly become the next generation of race fans, who will likely
carry on the tradition with their children.
I was one of those children at an
early age with my father and became a huge fan of the late Gary Ormsby because
he gave me some time in his day. That stuck with me and really carried some
weight when I attempted to talk with baseball or basketball stars later during
my childhood. Drag Racing was what first paved my way into a love for motor
sports. It will always be a sport that I will strongly suggest all must see in
person at least once.
For the adults, the NHRA’s
visit to Las Vegas also presents a wagering opportunity. The media, crews,
drivers, and fans really get a kick out of seeing the odds for each race. This
is the only place they ever get to see it and they come prepared with opinions
to the betting windows. Drag Racing odds can be found at Station Casinos and
Palms Sports Books for the top 3 divisions.
Look for Tony Schumacher to win
Top Fuel, Whit Bazemore to take the Funny Cars, and our main man Greg Anderson
to start taking over the Pro Stock division once again with a victory this week.
NASCAR hits Texas
This Sunday’s NASCAR
Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway will be the first of two races held on
the 1Â½ mile Ft. Worth track this season. A combination of great attendance and
terrific television ratings forced NASCAR to award the 9-year old track a second
race after eight seasons of Cup racing with only one race. There were also some
political maneuvers that took place along with threats of a lawsuit from
Speedway Motorsports Inc. shareholders that forced NASCAR to reluctantly give
Texas the second date.
NASCAR is also the owner of their
own group of race tracks (International Speedway Corp.) that they want to give
additional dates to. Last year California Speedway, an ISC track, received an
additional date even though the track rarely sells out and has half the
attendance capability of a popular race track like Las Vegas, an SMI track.
There have been talks about Las
Vegas possibly getting another date within the next few years, but it’s
unlikely since Texas got theirs. NASCAR has said they want to explore more
markets and it’s not coincidental that the new markets they wish to explore
are site where ISC has plans to build a track.
Texas is also the sister track of
Charlotte and Atlanta. Based on the banking, width, and length of the track, all
three are very similar. Everyone has the luxury of seeing how they ran last
month in Atlanta. The crews that did well will attempt to come in with the same
car and set-up. Teams that did poorly will go back to the drawing board.
It’s a much better bet that the
teams that ran well in Atlanta will do the same this week. That spells bad news
for Dale Earnhardt Jr (15-1), who won his first career Cup race at Texas, but
was awful in Atlanta. No rule changes have been made for Junior in regards to
the spoiler height, despite Junior being the Prince of NASCAR royalty.
With Junior being expected to be
a non-contender, you’d figure his odds would be much higher than 15-1.
However, the Sports Books have to anticipate the heavy betting on Junior from
his nation of fans. If placing odds on Junior around 25-1, it wouldn’t take
too many bets to make Junior a heavy risk based on his normal weekly action from
the betting public.
The team that will be flowing
with excitement this week is the Roush gang. Between Carl Edwards, Mark Martin,
and Greg Biffle, they dominated the final practice session and the actual race
with Edwards bumping his way to win on the last lap. Those three Roush drivers
finished in the top 4. Meanwhile the last two Nextel Cup champions, Matt Kenseth
and Kurt Busch, struggled.
It’s unlikely both Kenseth and
Busch will struggle this week. Kenseth is a past winner at Texas and Busch
finished sixth last year. In all, Roush has three wins out of the eight Cup
races held at Texas.
The Hendrick team is rolling with
Jeff Gordon winning for the second time on the season last week at Martinsville.
Both Gordon and Jimmie Johnson should be primed this week for a possible win.
After struggling at Texas for the first few years the track was open, Gordon has
four straight top 5 finishes there. It still remains one of the few tracks that
Gordon has never won on.
Johnson, meanwhile, has never
struggled at Texas. He has had a top 5 finish yet, but owns three straight top
10s. Based on all of his success in Atlanta and Charlotte, he’ll be tough to
beat this week. It took a last second bump by Edwards to beat Johnson at the
finish line in Atlanta last month.
Kasey Kahne was in somewhat the
same boat as Junior in dealing with the new spoiler, but rebounded with a good
run in Atlanta. Kahne was second to Elliott Sadler in this race last year and
should be considered a candidate to win. Though Hendrick will be tough to beat
this week, we’ll stick with a Roush driver.