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NASCAR season opens with Saturday night sprint
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 2/14/2014  at  2:18:00 AM
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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
The Sprint Unlimited

Saturday, February 15 8:00 p.m. EDT
Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach, FL

The NASCAR season begins Saturday night in Daytona Beach with The Sprint Unlimited. This 75-lap race (187.5 miles) formerly known as the Budweiser Shootout will consist of only 20 drivers and does not count in the points standings. The race is divided into three parts of 30 laps, 25 laps and 20 laps. Daytona International Speedway, completed in 1959, is a 2.5-mile, tri-oval track with huge bankings (31-degree turns, 18-degree tri-oval banking). The frontstrech measures 3,800 feet with the backstretch coming in at 3,400 feet. Kevin Harvick is the defending champion of this event, placing among the top-7 in this event in five of the past six years.

Odds to Win Race

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Kevin Harvick7-to-1
Matt Kenseth7-to-1
Kyle Busch7-to-1
Dale Earnhardt Jr.7-to-1
Jimmie Johnson8-to-1
Kurt Busch10-to-1
Brad Keselowski10-to-1
Denny Hamlin10-to-1
Jeff Gordon10-to-1
Tony Stewart12-to-1
Joey Logano15-to-1
Carl Edwards15-to-1
Jamie McMurray15-to-1
Ryan Newman20-to-1
Danica Patrick20-to-1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.30-to-1
Marcos Ambrose50-to-1

Drivers to Watch

Tony Stewart (12/1) - Stewart will certainly be one to watch after missing the final 13 races of the 2013 season after breaking his leg during a crash in a non-NASCAR race. He has won this season-opening race three times in his career (2001, 2002, 2007), joining Kevin Harvick as the only active three-time winners of this event. With this past history to fall back on plus a 4th-place showing last year, Stewart represents the best value wager for this event with his double-digit odds.

Kevin Harvick (7/1) - Harvick is always located near the front of the pack in restrictor-plate races, and he has thrived in this format with three Sprint Unlimited wins in the past five years. He has also had plenty of success at this track in the regular season, placing 7th or better in five of the past six races he's finished at Daytona International Speedway, including a win in 2010. With all the similarly valued chalk on the board, Harvick is the most sure thing to bring home another victory.

Ryan Newman (20/1) - If you're looking for the big payout this weekend, throw down a small wager on Newman. He didn't participate in this event last year, but placed 7th in 2012 and 3rd in 2011. He also has raced well in the past three races that counted at this track, coming in 5th place in the 2012 Coke Zero 400, 5th place in last year's Daytona 500 and then 10th place in the 2013 Coke Zero 400. At 20-to-1 odds, don't forget about Newman for Saturday night.

Brad Keselowski (10/1) - Keselowski placed 4th the only time he raced in this event in 2012, and has started to figure out how to maneuver Daytona International Speedway. After crashing three times in a four-race span at this track from 2010 to 2012, he has placed 8th, 4th and 21st in the past three NASCAR races in Daytona. With nobody really talking about him after a disappointing 14th-place finish in the 2013 points standings, there is great betting value in Keselowski on Saturday night as a 10-to-1 wager.

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