NASCAR’s Sprint Cup is the big daddy of all the racing series held every year. And they do something a little different than other major sports. Baseball, basketball and football build up for a season ending finale with their biggest event. But in NASCAR, the Daytona 500 starts the entire season off with the biggest race of the entire year. Held annually at the Daytona International Speedway in beautiful Daytona, Florida, this single race can change a virtual unknown into a household name. No single race anywhere on the globe has the ability to totally change some driver’s life quite like the Great American Race.
Last year Danica Patrick ran a partial Sprint Cup season, but in 2013 she is going to run a full slate of races. And she wasted no time last weekend in proving that she belongs in this male-dominated “good old boy” sport. Danica captured the pole as she posted the fastest qualifying time for the Daytona 500. And Wednesday afternoon she ran only 12 laps of practice, but still wound up fourth on the speed chart. Driving the #10 GoDaddy Chevy SS for Stewart-Haas Racing, she is already getting her new boss Tony Stewart excited.
The Vegas odds on Danica Patrick winning the Daytona 500 had her at more than 125 to 1 initially, but after her historic qualifying run, her odds have plummeted to around 18 to 1. And as for Tony Stewart, he has looked good in qualifying and practice, and will probably make a statement in the Budweiser Duel qualifying races Thursday. Look for his #14 Chevy SS to be at the front of the pack Sunday during the 2013 Daytona 500 as well.
The only other driver locked into a qualifying position is the speedy Jeff Gordon, running in the familiar #24 car. He will be running in the outside number two spot, on the front row with Danica Patrick Sunday. But if there is any track where position may not mean a thing, it is Daytona. The “Big Crash” will definitely happen sometime Sunday, and avoiding that will be paramount if a driver is going to hoist the Harley J. Earl Trophy in Victory Lane. Gordon is a three-time Daytona 500 champion, and one of the Vegas odds on favorites to win it again.
Matt Kenseth is a very good restrictor plate track racer, and a two-time Daytona 500 winner, looking to repeat this year as he bested the field in 2012. Running with a new team for the first time in 12 years, Kenseth will be piloting the #20 Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. Of course, no discussion of the Daytona 500 would be complete without mentioning fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Junior, and the man behind the wheel of the #88 car is currently one of the Vegas odds on favorites to nab his second Daytona 500 victory. Vegas odds on possible Daytona 500 winners can change dramatically after the twin qualifiers are run on Thursday, and after Friday and Saturday practices. Check back here often before the flag drops at 1 PM Eastern time Sunday, February 24, and see what the current Vegas odds on Daytona 500 drivers are for your favorite racer.