Budweiser Shootout Kicks-off Speedweeks

Last Updated: February 7th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

Daytona International Speedway will host the 31st annual Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night featuring an all-star type atmosphere for the best drivers in the world to kick start the 2009 season. A record field of 28 drivers will try and tame the high banks of Daytona in restrictor plate style racing at speeds near 200mph giving the start to this year’s NASCAR season. Dale Earnhardt Jr won the event last year in his first ever race as a Hendrick driver when the piloted the #88 National Guard to victory lane to grab his 2nd career shootout victory. Tonight’s Budweiser Shootout will officially start the most exciting week in auto-sports what many like to call speedweeks at Daytona. Unlike most races, the Daytona 500 has many special events leading up to NASCAR’s biggest race. After the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night a non-points prestigious dash for the cash, Sunday will follow with the qualifying for the Daytona 500. Although over 40 cars will qualify for the event, only the top two spots are locked into the field. The rest will battle it out on Thursday for 50 laps in two Gatorade 125s to set the starting lineup for the Daytona 500 that will follow next Sunday. Without a doubt, this will be an exciting week in NASCAR.

There will be a ton of fantasy racing and betting odds all week from the major sports books and while many may not give any expert picks we will break down the drivers with the best opportunities to make a big impact in the next week of racing. The favorite in the field is undoubtedly the restrictor plate king Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt Jr has more wins at restrictor plate racing than any active driver on the circuit and all eyes will be on the NASCAR’s most popular driver when the green drops at 8:00est Saturday night. Earnhardt captured last year’s Shootout victory and backed it up by winning the Gatorade 125’s after starting dead last a season ago. Earnhardt Jr is receiving 5/1 odds to win the Budweiser Shootout and he is definitely a driver to keep your eye on.

Tony Stewart will be in a new ride this season when he takes the wheel of the No. 14 Old Spice machine. Stewart left the famed Joe Gibbs Racing last season to become majority owner at what is now Stewart-Haas racing. It is unclear how long it will take Stewart to build up the time if he can, considering how hard it is for today’s owner in the sport of NASCAR. Stewart has 3 victories in the Shootout that is 2nd to only the late Dale Earnhardt who dominated the event with 6 wins. The new team of Stewart-Haas will release the No. 14 on Saturday night and see if they can contend with the big franchise teams like Hendrick, Rousch, and others. Stewart is receiving 15/1 odds for his no. 14 Chevrolet to reach victory lane.

Hendrick teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have both had success at Daytona. Gordon has won the event twice and always runs well at the 2.5 mile oval. Jimmie Johnson won his 3rd consecutive championship last season and also has a Bud Shootout victory to his resume. These two drivers finished 2nd and 4th last year behind the other Hendrick car Dale Earnhardt Jr in the Shootout and they will again try to put the Hendrick cars out in front of the pack. Kyle Busch and Carl Edward both broke out last year with career seasons. Edwards ended up with more wins than any other driver with 9. However, Edwards has not faired well at the super-speedways in the past, but will try to change that on Saturday. Kyle Busch on the other hand can drive to the front on any track on the circuit and had two restrictor plate victories in 4 tries last season. Busch actually leads the betting odds going into the shootout as a slight favorite over Dale Earnhardt Jr at 9/2.

A few other notable drivers to keep an eye on…

Joey Logano – Logano will be the youngest driver to get a start at Daytona at 18 years of age. The sensational talent won his 3rd career start in the Nationwide Series last year and will attempt to be the youngest winner ever in NASCAR.

Kevin Harvick – Harvick may not be widely known as a restrictor plate driver, but he has had a lot of success at these types of tracks. Driver of the Goodwrench #29 career finish at Daytona ranks 5th among active drivers.

David Ragan – This is an outside dark horse, but David Ragan had an excellent season last year early in his career and is staged to make another impressive run in 2009. Receiving 20/1 odds this driver may be worth a gambling risk to score his first big win.

* Last year’s Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman will not be in the field due to the eligibility requirements. Newman switched teams at the end of last season to side with Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas racing and will be left out of this year’s Shootout.

Bud Shootout Notable Betting Odds…

Kurt Busch 12/1
Kyle Busch 9/2
Dale Earnhardt Jr 5/1
Carl Edwards 8/1
Joey Logano 35/1
Tony Stewart 15/1
Jimmie Johnson 13/2
Jeff Gordon 15/2
Kevin Harvick 15/1
Denny Hamlin 10/1

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Posted in Nascar / Auto Racing - Last Updated on Saturday, February 7th, 2009 @ 2:16 am (EST)
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