Fiestas offer inaugural NASCAR contest in Las Vegas

Feb 5, 2008 5:00 AM
1. #20   Tony Stewart 5-1
2. #11   Denny Hamlin 16-1
3. #88   Dale Earnhardt Jr 7-2
4. # 5   Casey Mears 15-1
5. #48   Jimmie Johnson 4-1

The Fiesta Properties on Rancho and in Henderson are going out on a limb by becoming the first Sports Books to offer a NASCAR contest.

The "Last Man Standing NASCAR Elimination Contest" began taking signups on Monday and will continue to do so until the 50th Daytona 500 waves the green flag Feb. 17. The Grand Prize for "The Last Man Standing" is $10,000 for the person that correctly picks the most weekly winners consecutively.

The format calls for a $25 buy-in with a "Buy 3 get one free deal." Entrants then choose one of the 10 weekly driver matchups for each race. Each week several entries will be eliminated with the live contestant pool whittled down until ultimately one person remains.

For years, Las Vegas Books have offered a wide array of contests for all the major sports. Generally, the contests evolve as a way to create a buzz for a property and attract new guests. Contests appeal to the competitive nature of every person.

What they also do is allow a person to spend a small amount of money with the ability to catch a great prize. In many cases, contests with guaranteed money have a huge overlay, meaning that the casino is paying the difference between the guaranteed money and what they actually took for entry fees.

The Fiesta Properties’ combined efforts will have to attract 400 paid entrants to cover the guarantee of $10,000 and avoid having an overlay. Should the contest attract more than 400, all additional monies collected will be thrown into the pool and given to the winner.

So where did this idea for a NASCAR contest come from?

Fiesta-Henderson Sports Book Manager Laura Travell said it was just the timing of NASCAR’s growth and the popularity with her bettors, who said they bet the odds to win, matchups, and props every week with her.

"We love NASCAR and it’s about time there was a contest for all the fans out there," Travell said. "We want it to be worth their time and effort so we are going to have a great prize. Our hope is that all the NASCAR fans come into Fiestas to see us and take a chance to win big with the sport they know so well!"

Perhaps the birth of a NASCAR contest in Las Vegas is within the same concept that Corporate America uses when they spend millions of dollars advertising. Whether its sponsorship for an individual car, driver, track, race, or television, Wall Street and Corporate marketing analysts have proven that the NASCAR fan is the most loyal in all sports when it comes to supporting a brand.

Vince Sanzare, Manager of the Sports Book at Fiesta-Rancho, echoed the loyalty theme when conversing about the contest.

"NASCAR is growing in popularity more every year," Sanzare said. "Their fans are very loyal and passionate, and we wanted to do something to reward that loyalty and passion. This will make Fiesta your go-to book for all your NASCAR fun, all season."

Local action: As the official season opening nears, we’ll attempt to keep everyone updated on what is happening as it relates to NASCAR such as specials, viewing, and of course wagering.

PT’s spreads love: The PT’s Pub chain across Nevada will be using NASCAR as their major marketing program all season with several gaming and drink specials during the race. We’ll update full details with the release next week. If you saw the Kurt Busch PT’s Pub Miller Lite commercial last week before the Super Bowl then you should know they are pretty serious.

Miller Lite vs Bud? It appears Miller Lite is getting a bit more aggressive in the beer NASCAR wars with Dale Earnhardt Jr trading in his beer can for an energy drink. Rumor has it that Miller Lite has challenged Budweiser, who now sponsors Kasey Kahne, to a substantial amount of money for charity. The challenge concerns which driver will finish higher in the final standings.

The wagers would reportedly be made at the Palms Sports Book. Before Bud agrees to the deal it should settle on the odds. Straight up, Kurt Busch and Miller Lite, should dominate Kahne and Bud. Busch should be at least a -500 favorite to finish with more points than Kahne.

A place to listen: The Ballpark Lounge and Jack Potters Quarter Club will again be showing all the NASCAR races with full sound blaring. That’s hard to find in Las Vegas and makes for a nice amenity for the NASCAR fan looking to hang out with friends and foes for drinks.

For the video poker or keno players they have a nice NASCAR bonus when hitting a 4 of a kind or 5-spot. They have a board with 43 positions and fill them out with the gamblers names throughout the week until full. When the drivers qualify, their car number is placed next to the name and that’s the driver you root for to finish first, second or third. If your driver has a podium finish you win cash, points, and prizes.

Sport Books wagers: Most will offer odds to win for every NASCAR race, but only a select few offer matchups and props weekly. Even fewer offer wagering on the Busch and Truck Series. The Palms, Caesars Palace properties, Hilton SuperBook, and Station Casinos 14 Sports Books consistently offer the most on a weekly basis.

New to the mix this season will be Cal-Neva’s entry. New boss Nick Bogdanovich says he intends to offer a full slate of odds on the Cup races, including matchups. You can always count on Bogdanovich to offer everything he puts out at the most competitive of fair prices. Expect a very low hold percentage on the odds to win index.

Bud Shootout: What a mix we have for Saturday’s night first taste of competitive racing. Budweiser, the primary sponsor for the race, has a new driver and team. If you go back and look at the Daytona test sessions from early January you’ll see that the top times represent both the old and new guard for Bud. The best single car speeds were led by Dale Earnhardt Jr. The best drafting speeds came from Kahne, Bud’s new driver.

Those times will be helpful this week when attempting to dissect who the winner of this 70-lap non-points race will be. Junior is the 3-1 favorite followed by his new teammates Jeff Gordon (4-1) and Jimmie Johnson (9-2). The Toyotas will have a nice race and surprise everyone with how well they all collectively run. They are led by Tony Stewart (5-1) and Denny Hamlin (16-1).

The obvious choice would seem like Junior just because of the sponsorship and him wanting to get out in the open. Generally the Bud Shootout is won by the Cup Series’ best of the best. One of the lone exceptions came two years ago when Hamlin won as a rookie.

Stewart took last season’s Shootout and might be the best driver of the bunch in a short race format. He has the closest temperament to the late Dale Earnhardt who was a six-time winner of this event and dominant in the 150-mile Gatorade Twin 125’s qualifying races.

We have only seen Toyota in practice sessions, but thus far they look pretty strong and have made a believer out of me, particularly in a short race format. Don’t expect the Chevys to lay down, but do expect Toyotas coming out with a feeling they have to prove something. Stewart’s nature and the circumstances give him the nod in this race.