Bettors primed for NASCAR weekend

Feb 26, 2002 9:10 AM

A record crowd is expected to pack Las Vegas Motor Speedway for this weekend’s NASCAR Winston Cup UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 on Sunday and the Busch Series Sam’s Town 300 on Saturday.

Now in its fifth year, the Winston Cup event is expected to draw well over 130,000 NASCAR fans, making it the largest sporting event in Nevada.

“The demand for tickets this year has been amazing,” said Chris Powell, LVMS executive vice president and general manager. “There was a lot of concern several months ago ”¦ but despite all the challenges, the sport of NASCAR remains incredibly strong. We’re gearing up for one of our biggest weekends ever.”

Sports book directors are also gearing up. While motor sports betting generates a fraction of the handle that the major sports generate, the Las Vegas event is the busiest for local bookmakers.

“We will probably book more than three times the action that we had on the Daytona 500,” said the supervisor at a locals-oriented sports book. “The total handle will probably reach that of a regular season, Division 1 football game.”

In addition to offering bets on the outcome of the race, some sports books have posted head-to-head match-ups and other props, such as total number of caution flags (over/under 4.5), number of different drives to lead for a lap (over/under 11.5), Shawna Robinson’s finish position (over/under 34.5) and number of drivers on the lead lap at the end of the race (over/under 13.5), to name a few.

Defending race and NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon headlines a list of 45 drivers who have filed entries for Sunday’s UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. He has been installed as one of the favorites at 5-1.

Two-time event winner Jeff Burton is among five drivers eligible for the Winston No Bull 5 $1 million bonus. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Bobby Hamilton and Matt Kenseth will join Burton in the hunt for the bonus.

GT motor sports columnist has tabbed Burton as the upset winner at 8-1.

History will be made Sunday as Shawna Robinson (included in the field at 30-1) will bid to become the first woman to ever compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at LVMS. Robinson did compete in a NASCAR Winston West Series event here last October, but suffered engine failure after running in the top five for much of the race.

For the second straight year, Las Vegas resident Kurt Busch (35-1) will be looking for a win in his hometown.