Earnhardt Jr., Keselowski Lead Odds to Win the 2017 Daytona 500

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Given the unpredictability of restrictor-plate races – remember barely 20-year-old Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500 in his second start in 2011?? – studying up on teams can make the difference with picking a driver for the Great American Race.

Two-time champion Dale Earnhardt Jr., despite missing half of the 2016 season due to post-concussion symptoms, and Brad Keselowski are at +450 and +700, respectively, on the odds to win the 2017 Daytona 500 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Keselowski and Team Penske teammate Joey Logano, who’s listed at +900, have combined to capture four of the last eight restrictor-plate races.

Earnhardt’s deftness on drafting-heavy tracks such as Daytona International Speedway and Talladega explain why many fans believe he is capable of a comeback win. His Hendrick Motorsports team will also dominate the front row, with Chase Elliott (+1200) having the pole position for the second year in a row.

One concern with the Hendrick drivers, including seven-time season champion Jimmie Johnson (+1000), has been dealing with the high-banking Turn 4. Earnhardt and Elliott were vexed by it in the 2016 Daytona 500 and Johnson had two spin-outs during last week’s Clash at Daytona. Johnson enters the season second on the odds to win the NASCAR Cup championship.

Keselowski is seeking his first Daytona 500 win, which would complete a restrictor-plate grand slam since he has won the July race at the track and both Talladega events. With Logano already having a Daytona 500 victory to his name, it’s plausible Penske’s emphasis would be on having Keselowski win the Great American Race.

The Joe Gibbs Racing team has fared well at the track over the years. Defending champion Denny Hamlin (+1200) stands an excellent shot of being in contention near the end, having finished fourth or better in four of his last five Daytonas, so there’s a chance he’ll be around at the end. Teammates Kyle Busch (+1000) and Matt Kenseth (+1400), a two-time winner in his own right, should also be in the mix.

Martin Truex Jr. (+1400) is worth considering after finishing second to Hamlin by 0.01 second in the 2015 race. One longshot worth considering is Jamie McMurray (+2800) of Chip Ganassi Racing, who won the race back in 2010.

 

Video: Erik Jones hits staircase on racetrack during test lap

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Debris sometimes finds its way onto NASCAR tracks.

But a staircase on the racetrack? That’s certainly unusual.

Erik Jones was driving the NASCAR on NBC car for a test lap at Charlotte and hit a staircase that was left on the track as shown in the video above. NBC Sports NASCAR analyst Jeff Burton was also in the car during the accident that happened after Turn 4.

Both men are fine and did not report any injuries.

Best of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pennsylvania 400 Rain Delay

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Hydration is the key to survival, except if you’re the Pocono Raceway. In the Tricky Triangle’s case, water is a track’s worst nightmare, especially when it comes in the form of rain. A wet racetrack forced the postponing of the Pennsylvania 400 to Monday at 11 a.m., and it’s safe to say we all felt like Keelan Harvick as we chilled out waiting for the race to start.

Though NASCAR fans will have to wait one more day for the party at Pocono, the rain delay wasn’t lacking in solid entertainment.

As per usual, the Sprint Cup toddlers were all over the place. We learned last week that Kyle Busch’s son Brexton has the attention span of, well, a child. This week during his father’s rain delay interview, Brexton adorably decided to play dress-up and stole Dad’s sunglasses right off of his face.

Brian Scott’s son, Joe, felt inspired by Brexton’s decision and went for his dad’s hat during a rain delay chat.

The cuteness continued with Joey Logano’s dog, Luigi, who tried to nab some of his dad’s Coke. What is with the trend of stealing things from these Sprint Cup drivers?

So the race might not have gone on as anticipated, but at least we got to revel in the sheer cuteness of babies and puppies. That’s a pretty close second to a NASCAR Sunday.