By Jordan McAbee
The Sprint Unlimited is a nice introductory race for NASCAR fans to enjoy before we dive right into the new season. The Unlimited is a non-points-paying exhibition race that only has 25 participants and will only run for 75 laps. Still, the excitement should be high, and it will be nice to finally see the cars back out on the track. For what it’s worth, only 5 of the 37 Sprint Unlimited winners went on to win the Daytona 500 the following week.
Betting Picks for the Sprint Unlimited
As is the case with any restrictor plate race, you can get some pretty good odds on some of the favorites, and it’s not crazy to take a risk with a long shot driver here at Daytona or at Talladega. The following driver odds are accurate as of 4:00 pm ET on February 13, 2016 and came from Bovada.
Brad Keselowski (+1300) – I was able to snag Keselowski at (+1600) earlier in the week and I love that play. I still really like him at (+1300), too. Let’s not forget that BK broke out on the Sprint Cup circuit with his controversial win at Talladega back in 2009. He also won there in 2012 and 2014. Now, Keselowski’s luck at Daytona hasn’t been as good–this is statistically his worst track on the circuit–but he did finish 2nd in the Sprint Unlimited back in 2014 and came home 3rd in that year’s Daytona 500. This #2 team was hitting on all cylinders for the second half of 2015 and will look to start off this new season with a bang. Brad will roll off the grid in 2nd on Saturday night.
Denny Hamlin (+950) – Only Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson are more highly favored than Denny Hamlin, and that shouldn’t really be a surprise. These three drivers have been great on the restrictor plate tracks over the last couple of years, even if that surprises you about Hamlin. Believe it or not, over the last four points-paying races at Daytona, Hamlin has a better average finish than Earnhardt (3.8 to 4.8) and the #11 Toyota won the Sprint Unlimited AND the Duel race back in 2014 (and nearly the Daytona 500). One of my rules is to roll with the hot drivers at restrictor plate races and Denny Hamlin has been one of the best here at Daytona as of late. He will start mid-pack in 15th for this year’s Sprint Unlimited.
Clint Bowyer (+3300) – Clint Bowyer is driving for HScott Motorsports for the 2016 season until he can take over Tony Stewart’s #14 Chevolet next year. Although many people (myself included) view this as a questionable situation for Clint, I’m not too worried about this car on the restrictor plate tracks. HScott Motorsports purchases its engines from Hendrick Motorsports, so you know there’s power in this #15 car. And we all know what kind of plate racer Clint Bowyer is; although he’s never went to victory lane here at Daytona, Bowyer is a two-time winner at Talladega. Also, in all of the points-paying races at those two tracks, Clint has finished 10th or better 50% of the time. That’s pretty impressive on these unpredictable race tracks. Bowyer is a perfect long shot betting pick on Saturday night and starts 8th.