Oddsmaker tabs Earnhardt 3-1 favorite
Defending Daytona champ merits top spot, Station Casinos’ Roberts says
Even though Dale Earnhardt Jr. was not the dominant driver on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit last year, his popularity remains unsurpassed. So it’s no surprise he is the Daytona 500 betting favorite.
The odds are 3-1 on Earnhardt to win Sunday’s season-opening race, with Jeff Gordon on his tail at 4-1.
Station Casinos sports book director Micah Roberts said Earnhardt earned the top spot on the betting board by winning last year at Daytona.
“Dale Jr. has had some really poor qualifying and practice times, and hasn’t looked good, but it’s respectful of what he has done in the past,” Roberts said. “Gordon was smoking in the preseason Daytona testing.”
Dale Jarrett, the polesitter in the 43-car lineup, is an 8-1 choice. Jimmie Johnson, who won last weekend’s Budweiser Shootout to claim the other front-row spot, is 6-1.
Las Vegas native Kurt Busch, the 2004 Nextel Cup points champion, is 12-1 and his younger brother, Kyle, is a long shot at 70-1. More about situs poker pkv games
“I would give Kurt Busch a really good shot,” Roberts said.
Serious contenders include Tony Stewart (8-1) and Kevin Harvick (10-1).
Two-time Daytona winner Michael Waltrip (10-1) also deserves consideration. He and the Dale Earnhardt Inc. team have dominated restrictor-plate races in recent years.
But Hendrick Motorsports drivers Gordon and Johnson appear to have gained ground, making it more difficult to pick a clear-cut favorite.
Roberts, who specializes in motorsports oddsmaking, has posted several proposition bets and driver matchups — all with a $1,000 wagering limit.
Earnhardt is a minus-130 favorite in a matchup with Gordon. Kurt Busch and Jarrett are matched up with each driver at minus-115.
Roberts said Daytona runs second to the Las Vegas Nextel Cup race in handle. The UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 in Las Vegas, scheduled for March 13, has sparked growth in NASCAR betting.
“We have seen NASCAR wagering almost double every year,” Roberts said. “It is better than ever. Everybody in Vegas is educated on the sport now.
“Some people still haven’t warmed up to it, or don’t get it, but there is a lot of excitement for this race in Daytona.”