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Gordon makes it 4

Nov 27, 2001 9:01 AM

The 2001 Winston Cup season has passed and Jeff Gordon reigns as this year’s champion.

This is the fourth time in his brief nine-year career that he has led NASCAR’s top circuit in the final point standings. Only Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt with seven apiece have won more. Overall, 2001 will go down as one of the most competitive, yet heavy-hearted seasons in NASCAR history.

The season started with a bang. The new aero-package got it’s first run at Daytona and set a track record for lap leaders. Michael Waltrip, a 45-1 longshot, won for the first time in 463 career starts. Unfortunately for Waltrip, his triumphant moment would be overshadowed by the death of NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, who crashed in the final turn of the last lap.

The Intimidator’s passing sent a shockwave across the country and the mourning that occurred alerted many in the world just how popular NASCAR had become. The ensuing weeks were difficult for many, but the races that occurred for the remainder of the season were all dedicated to the great champion and legend that Dale Earnhardt was.

The correlated links to Earnhardt would last the whole season. The team that Earnhardt owned, DEI Enterprises, won five races. Kevin Harvick, chosen to race in the Richard Childress GM Goodwrench car, would win twice, including a record victory in only his third career Winston Cup start.

There were tributes to Earnhardt at every track, but nothing soothed some of the pain better than when Dale Earnhardt Jr won in the first race back at Daytona since his father died there. Junior dominated the event and showed to all Earnhardt fans that he had indeed inherited some of the Intimidator’s spirit on the Superspeedways.

Junior was able to follow that win with another superspeedway victory at Talladega, a track that his father had dominated more than any other. A legend had passed, but the heir was apparent, and all seemed well in the Camelot of NASCAR.

In the betting world of NASCAR, Nevada saw another record set in handle. The popularity and growth of the sport has grasped bettors across the state and given them another alternative to wager their money.

The wagering aspect has gotten so big that there are several respected touts dissecting and disseminating information to come up with winning angles each week for the public. Some of the nation’s top handicapper’s such as Scott Spreitzer, Tim Trushel, and Bob Donahue have created another market for themselves by offering insight to the fastest growing sport in America. They have proven time and time again that money can be made by wagering on NASCAR.

Sunset Station’s Fred Crespi offers his explanation for the growth.

“The momentum just keeps building. The combination of public awareness due to television coverage and the wagers Âí­offered that bettors can win on make it attractive to even the Âí­casual bettor that may not follow it as much.

“When they see seven different drivers win at 45-1 or more longshot prices, it makes it Âí­attractive,”  says Crespi.

“It’s the same concept that makes parlays so alluring to the bettor. You can put out a small amount and win big.”

This was the year of the longshot. A record 19 different drivers won a Race, including 11 having 20-1 or longer odds. The biggest payout was Elliott Sadler’s win at Bristol which paid 125-1. Sadler was among five drivers who posted their initial Winston Cup victory.

The Wood Brothers team had not  been competitive for over a decade, but won Bristol thanks to the new, more durable Goodyear tire offered to teams this season. Sadler was able to race the final 163 laps on the same set of tires without much slippage of time on each lap.

This was also a year some legends return to glory.

 Dodge made it’s return to the series and succeeded, along with two of it’s Dodge drivers, Bill Elliott and Sterling Marlin.

 Dodge came on strong, winning four of the last 14 races. For fan favorite Elliott, it was his first win in seven seasons.

It’s hard to imagine the 2002 season being better or meaningful to it’s fans, but every year seems to get better and more competitive.

We’ll be back in January, looking to assist with weekly information guided to make wagering on NASCAR  profitable.