It seems like forever since the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers took the track, but in reality it’s been only a few weeks since they last raced.
The reason it may appear to feel so long is because under the new economic rules, pre-season testing is no longer allowed.
In seasons past, early January saw two weeks of testing at Daytona to allow teams to tinker with their restrictor plate programs. Then in late January the teams all headed to Las Vegas just before Super Bowl weekend to play around with 1½ mile set-ups.
What does all this mean now and how does it affect the way we should wager on the races early on? There are a couple of avenues you can go with on this. The first thought is that the dominant teams will have the advantage.
Teams like Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs racing who spend more than any other on their restrictor plate programs don’t have much tinkering to do. They are set and have shown in the past during early testing that they are a notch above everyone else.
However, without having that test session at Daytona, their normal process of data crunching for the betterment of all their cars to sift through and share with their teams could also hurt them the most.
In this scenario, you could make a case for the next tier of teams coming in and doing better on the fly. Teams like Richard Childress racing, Penske Motorsports, and Fenway-Roush racing would be ones to benefit under the no testing in these circumstances. Even though Childress and Penske won the last two Daytona 500’s, they didn’t have the top testing cars during preseason.
This week’s race is the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona which consists of only two-thirds of the drivers that would participate in a normal race. It is a non-points exhibition race that has been formatted different from previous years.
In the past, all the previous Bud Shootout winners along with all the previous years’ Bud Pole winners got invitations to race. This season, it is geared more for the manufacturers’ excellence. The top six cars in owners points get invited, and in a late twist, past champions get a free pass. This year it means Tony Stewart is in.
As always, anytime these drivers race, odds will be posted for everyone’s betting pleasure. The favorite to win this week is Kyle Busch at 5-1. He falls into the category we mentioned earlier with Joe Gibbs and being dominant out of the gate. Last season he had the best restrictor plate car all season and possibly could have won all four races when putting Talladega into the mix.
Because this is a shorter race than normal, the best car does usually win which makes a great case for Busch. If not wanting to settle for the short favorite odds, great candidates to win also come with Busch’s teammate Denny Hamlin and all of the Hendrick drivers beginning with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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TOP 5 at Shootout
|Dale Earnhardt Jr||