NASCAR is finally back | NevadaAppeal.com

NASCAR is finally back

Joe Ellison
Nevada Appeal Betting Columnist

NASCAR fans can finally rejoice, as another regular season begins Sunday with the running of the Daytona 500 from Daytona Beach, Fla. NASCAR grows bigger and bigger every year, as more and more money gets pumped into the sport. Winning is everything, and teams and drivers will do almost anything to gain an advantage over their opponents. There hasn’t been an official race yet, but the season already has become interesting.

At first the big story was about Dale Earnhardt Jr., and his continuing attempt to gain majority ownership of Dale Earnhardt Inc. Ever since the tragic death of his father at Daytona, Teresa Earnhardt has been in charge. It is clear that there is no love lost between the two, and Dale Jr. is portraying her as being an evil stepmother.

But that story has quickly taken a back seat to all the cheating that has been going on at the track. After the pole qualifying last Sunday, five cars had failed inspections. All five crew chiefs were suspended, times were disallowed, fines were levied, and 250 total points were deducted. The most embarrassing situation involves two-time Daytona champ Michael Waltrip, who has switched over to first-year Nextel Cup participant Toyota.

In NASCAR it seems that the biggest stories always involve some kind of controversy or politics. Yesterday James Hylton was trying to change that. At 72 years old and the Cup Rookie of the Year in 1966, Hylton would be the oldest driver ever in a Cup event by 6 1/2 years. Hopefully he somehow finished well enough in his Duel 150 to qualify.

Winner – Picking winners in automobile races is always difficult because too much luck is involved, but the choice here is Tony Stewart. Stewart owns ten wins at Daytona, including the last two Pepsi 400s, and he finished second in the 500 in 2004. He looked very strong in winning last Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout. The only thing he hasn’t won at Daytona is the 500, so he is overdue.

Nextel Cup Championship – Twelve drivers will qualify for the year-end Chase, two more than in past years. Now five extra points will be earned by race winners, and an extra ten will be given for each win to those who get in the Chase.

The prediction again is Tony Stewart. He won the Championship in 2002 and ’05, and he should be motivated by having failed to make the Chase last season. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson would normally be a good choice, but no driver has won back-to-back titles since Jeff Gordon in 1997 and ’98.

Rookie of the Year – This one’s a no-brainer. Juan Pablo Montoya has already established himself as one of the best drivers in the world.

Weekly NASCAR betting is available on race winners, driver match-ups, win-place-show wagering and parlay cards, although the odds on the parlay card are not as good as betting match-ups off the board.

NBA

For the first time ever, the NBA All-Star Game will be played in a non-NBA city. In somewhat of a surprise, it will be held Sunday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Ticket prices are sky high.

NBA players love to party, and this weekend should be a huge one. They also love to gamble, with Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan prime examples of that. It appears that the NBA and Las Vegas are a perfect fit.

The one problem with the situation is that the NBA insisted that there will be no legal wagering on the game. Even though it is not a heavily wagered event, handicappers should still be allowed to have the opportunity to bet on it. A player making millions of dollars wouldn’t jeopardize his career by fixing a game like this, and neither would a referee. Commissioner David Stern apparently doesn’t trust the members of his own league.