NHRA best money value in Vegas sports

Apr 12, 2005 7:35 AM

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 1½ 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.