NASCAR Odds & Liev Jackson Picks: Nascar Season Gets Underway with Sprint Unlimited Race

by Liev Jackson

NASCAR Odds & Liev Jackson Picks: Nascar Season Gets Underway with Sprint Unlimited Race

Baseball has spring training, football has the exhibition season and in Nascar? It’s a confusing hodgepodge of a weekend before the Daytona 500 really gets the party started next week.

The feature of this warmup weekend is a 75 lap ‘exhibition race’ coming up Saturday night.

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The only ones to qualify to run this race are racers who won a pole position in 2015 along with previous winners and pole sitters of the Daytona 500 and Sprint Unlimited.

That means the 25 car race is going to feature most of the big hitters on the season.

It includes Jimmy Johnson at the pole, defending Sprint champion Kyle Busch, defending race champion Matt Kenseth and a host of others.

About the only racers who won’t be showing up this weekend are recently retired Jeff Gordon, recently injured Tony Stewart (replaced with Brian Vickers) and the rookies Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher, Ryan Blaney, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Brian Scott.

Now is as good a time as any to mention that what happens this weekend and at this stage of the game will likely have no bearing on how the season goes. Almost a year ago to the day Busch was breaking his leg in a Daytona tune-up and we were wondering when he would get back behind the wheel. And in the end he emerged from a tight pack as the surprise winner of the Sprint Championship.

This year Kevin Harvick (+500) enters the season as the presumptive favorite and considering how well he finished down the stretch that is the safe bet. He had 23 top five finishes on the season to lead the field and finished second to Busch after winning it all in 2014. He is a man at the top of his game and would be my bet to get back to the top of the mountain in 2016.

Johnson at +700 is another great bet and a true legend of the sport with six Sprint Cup Championships. But his last win was in 2013.

For this race Dale Earnhardt enters as 6-1 favorites. Last year after three wins and 16 top five finishes he bowed out in the first round of the Sprint elimination series.

The Bottom Line: For this race as the racers are still feeling their way around the car I like the winner to come from someone who finished hot last year. My picks are Kyle Busch (10-1) or Kevin Harvick (10-1).

The Upset Pick: Martin Truex Jr. 15-1, also building off his strong finish in the Sprint Cup.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. #88   +400
Jimmie Johnson #48   +900
Joey Logano #22   +900
Kevin Harvick #4   +1000
Denny Hamlin #11   +1000
Kyle Busch #18   +800
Matt Kenseth #20   +1200
Kurt Busch #41   +1400
Brad Keselowski #2   +1600
Carl Edwards #19   +1600
Kasey Kahne #5   +1800
Martin Truex, Jr. #78   +2000
Kyle Larson #42   +2200
Jamie McMurray #1   +2200
Austin Dillon #3   +3300
Clint Bowyer #15   +3300
Greg Biffle #16   +4000
Paul Menard #27   +4000
Ryan Newman #31   +4000
A. J. Allmendinger #47   +5000
Aric Almirola #43   +5000
Danica Patrick #10   +5000
Casey Mears #13   +6600
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. #17   +6600

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