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August 20, 2014

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Vegas Play of the Day: Daytona 500

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Associated Press

Kevin Harvick leads the field just ahead of Jeff Gordon during the early stages of the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz.

2014 NCAA Tournament

Which top-ranked team would you bet to win the national championship?
Florida 9-to-2 — 36.0%
Wichita State 12-to-1 — 16.3%
Syracuse 8-to-1 — 15.1%
Arizona 12-to-1 — 15.1%
Duke 8-to-1 — 10.5%
San Diego State 60-to-1 — 7.0%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

When betting sports I actually follow goes wrong, it’s time to switch to ones I’m clueless on.

That’s right: Sunday’s Play of the Day, featuring odds from the South Point, is going auto racing. NASCAR’s annual trip to Las Vegas is always its most bet-on event of the year, but Daytona is usually a close second.

Might as well get festive and make use of the expanded betting options available on one the biggest races of the year to inch my way back towards our starting funds of $10,000.

Kevin Harvick to finish better than Jimmie Johnson: $220 to win $200

Betting against NASCAR’s greatest driver might sound like bankroll suicide, but my (extremely) preliminary research reveals he’s not in the best spot to open the season.

I don’t have the slightest idea what the Daytona “duels” entail exactly, but I know Harvick came in second in the first one on Thursday while Johnson followed by not finishing and causing a wreck in the second one on Friday.

Johnson won the Daytona 500 last year, but there hasn’t been a back-to-back winner since TLC’s “Waterfalls” was the top song on the Billboard singles chart. That was 19 years ago, and Sterling — not Miami — Marlin was the victor.

Johnson shouldn’t even be a co-favorite with four other drivers at 10-to-1 — Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Harvick — but public perception is keeping him at the top of the betting board. Harvick was the lone favorite in this race last year. Although he ultimately disappointed, he had an awfully strong year finishing third in the overall Sprint Cup standings.

I’ll always remember covering Harvick in the local 2010 Nationwide race and how he acted gruff in the post-race press conference despite winning. That’s the kind of demeanor I like out of my racecar drivers. That’s the kind of demeanor that just might lead Harvick to a Daytona 500 victory. Or at least a better finish than Jimmie — not Jimmy — Johnson.

Standings: Bern (12-6, $11,420), Keefer (5-8, $8,417.50), Brewer (5-9-2, $7,460)

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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