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.

 

Keselowski of Team Penske betting favorite on Daytona 500 odds

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Showing that he can win at Daytona International Speedway in February has boosted Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski to the top of the board for the “Great American Race.”

Keselowski, coming off a win in the Advance Auto Parts Clash, is the +800 favorite at the top of the 2018 Daytona 500 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. He will be attempting to duplicate the 2016 feat of second favorite Denny Hamlin (+1000) of Joe Gibbs Racing, who, two years ago, was the first driver since 2000 to win The Clash and then win the Daytona 500.

Befitting an event that’s had three consecutive first-time winners, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson and Team Penske’s Joey Logano all draw in at +1200.

The fact that the Daytona International double has been so rare might be cause to look for a higher-priced driver than Keselowski. He has never placed higher than third in the Daytona 500 and will also have the competitive disadvantage of starting 19th on Sunday. Drivers of Fords have fared well at Daytona over the last two years, but Logano, Keselowski’s teammate at Penske, was too inconsistent in 2017 to inspire much confidence for the first race of 2018.

Hamlin will have his best career start at second. Between the Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Busch is coming off a more successful 2017 season and offers slightly more value than Hamlin. Teammate Erik Jones (+2200), who has been consistent on this track, also stacks up as a value play.

Martin Truex Jr. (+1400) is the reigning series champion after posting five wins to claim the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2017. Truex was nipped at the checkered flag by Hamlin in 2016, so his track record at Daytona is sufficiently strong enough to give bettors confidence.

Defending-champion Kurt Busch (+2500) might be ruled out solely on the fact no driver has won in back-to-back years since 1995. In a similar vein, pole winner Alex Bowman (+2800) should be faded on that basis that no pole winner has triumphed since Dale Jarrett in 2000.

One of the dark horse possibilities is Austin Dillon (+4000) of Richard Childress Racing, who had the fastest Chevrolet at The Clash and has a good knowledge of the track, with nine career starts. Wood Brothers Racing’s Paul Menard (+6600) has two career top-5 finishes at Daytona and tends to be closer to peak form in restrictor plate races.

For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

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.