2011 NASCAR Budweiser Shootout at Daytona

2011 NASCAR Budweiser Shootout, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona, FL
Saturday, February 12, 2011, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
2.5 mile tri-oval, 31 degree banking (turns) 3 degree banking (straightaways) restrictor plate
Defending Champion: Kevin Harvick

Denny Hamlin is our pick to win the 2011 NASCAR Bud Shootout as the season gets underway at Daytona.

NASCAR returns for the 2011 season at Daytona with their annual Bud Shootout. Though they aren’t racing for points until next week, the Shootout is always a fun exhibition for fans. The drivers will race 75 laps over 2 segments, one 25 and one 50 with a ten minute break in between. The big news is about the famed Daytona International Speedway. It has been repaved for the first time in over 30 years. During practice, the drivers routinely had speeds of over 200 mph and some times were 3 wide going that fast. It has been said that Daytona handles more like the other restrictor plate superspeedway track Talledega, with higher speeds. Talledega is routinely one of the wildest races on the circuit as the cars are trying to go 3 or 4 wide at high speeds, and crashes occur more frequently because of it. The repaving has to help as last year’s Daytona 500 was marred  by numerous delays to fix potholes in the track. There are 24 drivers in the field of the bud Shootout. The format was changed this year from including pole winners from the previous year to a complex formula that invited all 12 drivers who qualified for the Chase last year, past cup series champions, past Bud Shootout winners, past winners of Daytona points races, and past NASCAR rookie of the year winners. Here is a  look at at some of the contenders and their odds courtesy of bodog.

1. Kevin Harvick (6-1) Harvick has won this event twice in a row. He also has a new sponsor this year, which happens to be Budweiser. Harvick had 3 wins last season, 16 top fives, and 26 top tens. He won the July race at Daytona last year and the Daytona 500 in 2007. Harvick loves this track and this event. He is definitely worth a play, though he is starting in the 18th position out of 24 drivers.

2. Kyle Busch (7/1) NASCAR’s “bad boy” certainly doesn’t make a lot of friends on the track, as he is aggressive almost to the point of being reckless. He had three wins, 10 top 5’s and 18 top tens last year. He won the July race at Daytona in 2008 and has 3 other top 5 career finishes here. He is starting from the 21st position so he might not have enough time to catch the leaders in such a short race, but he is a threat to win every time he races.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (15/2) NASCAR’s most popular driver is starting from the pole in this event.  Junior didn’t have a win last year but did have 3 top  5’s and 8 top 10’s. Earnhardt finished 2nd last year at the Daytona 500. He has numerous top tens in his career and 2 wins at this track. Earnhardt hasn’t won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race since 2008.

4. Tony Stewart (10/1) Stewart had 2 wins, 9 top 5’s and 17 top 10’s last season. He is starting from the second position in this race. He has 3 wins and numerous top 10’s in his career at Daytona. He had 2 disappointing finishes in 2 events at this track last year finishing 22nd in and 25th.

5. Denny Hamlin (11/1) Hamlin narrowly finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship in the closest finish in history. Hamlin had 8 wins last year, 14 top 5’s and 18 top 10’s. He doesn’t have a win at Daytona but he does have 1 top 3 finish at this track. He is starting from the 4th position in this race Hamlin is my pick to win the Bud Shootout.

6. Jeff Gordon (11/1) Gordon had no wins last year but had 11 top 5’s and 17 top 10’s.    Gordon is starting 12th in this race. Gordon has 6 wins at this track  and numerous top 10’s. He hasn’t won here since 2005, but did finish 3rd here in July.

7. Jimmie Johnson (12/1) Last Fall Johnson won his 5th straight Sprint Cup title. He had 6 wins, 17 top 5’s and 23 top 10’s last year. He has 1 win and numerous 10 tens at this track in his career. He is starting in the 23rd position.

Here are some other contenders and their odds. Carl Edwards, (15/1), Clint Bowyer (16/1), Greg Biffle (22/1), Jamie McMurray (12/1), Jeff Burton (20/1), Joey Logano (20/1), Juan Pablo Monoya (22/1), Kasey Kahne (25/1), Kurt Busch (14/1), Mark Martin (20/1), Matt Kenseth (22/1), and Ryan Newman (22/1). There is no field all drivers have action.

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