Busch serves notice for 2003

Nov 19, 2002 8:45 AM

   After winning his fourth race of the season in NASCAR’s Winston Cup finale at Miami on Sunday, Las Vegas native Kurt Busch is sure to be a front-runner for the point title next year.

   Busch wound up third overall in the points standings behind champion Tony Stewart and runnerup Mark Martin. Odds will be released at the Palms and Station Casinos next week. Stewart is the early 4-1 favorite to repeat, followed by Jeff Gordon at 5-1.

   Stewart’s gingerly approach in the clinching race was a showcase for restraint. He stuck to the pre-race strategy of racing strictly for the points title, and that's exactly what he did.

   Not many could believe that a competitor like Stewart could have no intentions of winning at Miami, but his 18th place finish was safe. Mark Martin finished fourth in the race to close with 38 points of Stewart, but had to settle for the runnerup spot in the Winston Cup standings.

   Greg Biffle clinched the Busch Series championship two weeks ago and will be driving in Winston Cup races full time next season. In his short stint as a driver for Richard Petty’s No. 44 car, he has been very impressive.

   Mike Bliss won the Truck Series championship outlasting Mike Crawford. Craftsman Truck series legend Ron Hornaday won the Miami race Friday as a teammate of Bliss.

   The 2003 Daytona 500 odds were released by Station Casinos and the Palms on Monday with Dale Earnhardt Jr. the overwhelming 4-1 favorite.

   Reports from around the Las Vegas books are that everyone did extremely well with Stewart winning the championship and almost all of them didn’t need Martin, who was listed as high as 35-1 at some places early in the year. With the Las Vegas Winston Cup race being held early and Martin being such a fan favorite, the risk got pretty high.

   Overall, auto racing was a winner again with Vegas books. The competition and variety of wagers available make it attractive to the bettor. Odds to win showed a tremendous amount of growth and a high hold percentage while matchups and propositions showed higher volume and lower percentage hold.

   The 2003 season is shaping up to be one of the most competitive ever. The infusion of new talent and equality of teams across the board make prospects of 2003 exciting.


   Odds to win 2003 Daytona 500.


   Dale Earnhardt Jr.   4-1

   Jeff Gordon     6-1

   Tony Stewart            7-1

   Michael Waltrip    7-1

   Kurt Busch      10-1

   Dale Jarrett      10-1

   Sterling Marlin     12-1

   Rusty Wallace               14-1

   Jimmie Johnson              15-1

   Bill Elliott                 15-1

   Bobby Labonte              18-1

   Ryan Newman             18-1

   Matt Kenseth            20-1

   Jeff Burton       20-1

   Mark Martin     20-1

   Ward Burton    22-1

   Johnny Benson               25-1

   Joe Nemechek          25-1

   Elliott Sadler    35-1

   Steve Park                 35-1

   Jamie McMurray           35-1

   Kevin Harvick               35-1

   Greg Biffle                40-1

   Dave Blaney    40-1

   Geoffrey Bodine    40-1