The Super Bowl of racing, the Daytona 500 goes on Sunday as we start a new season of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The race starts at 1 PM ET and will be televised on Fox. Here’s a look at the Daytona 500 betting odds and some other thoughts on the race…
*Daytona is notorious for upsets, with its restrictor plate rules, which limit the horsepower to an engine and encourage packed racing, which in turn encourages wrecks. That’s why this race is always a crapshoot and that’s reflected in the betting odds.
Jimmie Johnson, the six-time Sprint Cup champion, including last year, is usually a 6-1 favorite. On Sunday, JJ will go off at 10-1 and be joined at that price by Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Junior and Matt Kenseth.
*The next rung down is three drivers at 12-1, all of whom have something to prove in 2014. Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin had their seasons cut short by injuries. Brad Keselowski won the championship in 2012, but struggled in 2013, had run-ins with the NASCAR higher-ups and missed the postseason entirely.
*Austin Dillon has the pole and the unproven driver is going off at 25-1. Dillon will be driving the #3 car, the first driver to do so since the late Dale Earnhardt Senior. When I spoke to TheSportsNotebook’s NASCAR consultant, my brother Bill, regarding the propriety of this, he was undisturbed. “It was going to happen eventually,” he said. “It’s not realistic to retire the numbers of every great driver.”
*Bill was less sanguine about the comments Richard Petty—one of those great drivers of racing lore—regarding Danica Patrick. Petty essentially dissed Danica, saying she wasn’t very good and that only her status as the first woman on the NASCAR circuit kept her from criticism.
”He was an idiot,” Bill said bluntly. “He’s very old-school and sexist (we should note that Bill is about as far from a politically correct thinker as there is). Danica’s a good driver. She won a race on the Indy circuit and last year was her rookie year in NASCAR. There’s a lot of ins and outs you have to learn and she still finished in the top 10 at Martinsville, which is not an easy track.”
If you’re like Bill, and a believer in Danica, she’s available at a 40-1 price tag to win on Sunday. Let the races begin.