Nascar Betting Showing No Signs of Running Out of Gas

Despite a faltering economy, NASCAR betting shows no signs of running out of gas any time soon. Even the start of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, which puts tires to the racetrack at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 15--the Budweiser Shootout, Feb. 7, is a non-scoring event--demonstrates how stock car racing can attract an expanding audience despite a defiance of conventional wisdom.

While beginning the season with the sport's premier event, the Daytona 500, is a little like running the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in January or playing the Super Bowl in September, it all seems to work for NASCAR, one of the fastest growing sports on the wagering menu.

And that's why nearly every sportsbook worth its gear box will post odds on each of the Sprint Cup's 38 events, starting with the Bud Shootout and ending with the Ford 400 in Miami, Nov. 22.

But the main action now is on a future book which asks bettors to pick the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion of the entire season.

Jimmie Johnson—-no surprise her—-opened as the 3/1 favorite. Johnson has won the last three Sprint Cup Championships, equaling the record held by Cale Yarborough for consecutive series championships. Johnson edged Carl Edwards 6,684 points to 6,615 in last year's race. Edwards, as you might expect, is the 7/2 second choice in futures.

Johnson won seven races last year and had 15 top five finishes and 22 top 10 finishes while earning $7.3 million. Interestingly, Edwards' numbers were even better, nine wins, 19 top fives, 27 top 10s and $8 million in earnings. Johnson was just a little better when it counted most.

Kyle Busch is the 4/1 third choice in Sprint Cup futures. Busch only finished 10th in the final standings but his eight visits to the winner's circle were topped only by Edwards. A bit more consistency and he could be the driver to dethrone Johnson this year.

From a wagering standpoint, Greg Biffle is one of the more interesting future book choices. Despite just two wins, Biffle finished third in last year's overall standings. We've seen future books prices as low as 8/1 and as high as 18/1 on Biffle.

Jeff Gordon is another intriguing future book prospect. The Rainbow Warrior is a four-time champion (1995, 1997, 1998, and 2001) but finished 2008 without a single win and a disappointing seventh place finish in the final 2008 Sprint Cup standings. But at odds of 10/1, the price may be too tempting for many gamblers to ignore.

Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart are other well-known drivers who could be attractive to bettors at double digit odds. Kenseth, 12/1, finished 11th overall last season and never won last year but was the Sprint Cup champion in 2003 so he knows how to get the job done.

"Little E," the son of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, won once last year while finishing 12th. At 14/1, some gamblers may like the price.

Stewart, the 2002 And 2005 champion, is known as much for his temper as his race track prowess but at odds as high as 28/1 at one venue, he may be worth a future book flyer.

In addition to which driver will win the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, there's also a future book on which manufacturer will win bragging rights.

Chevrolet, with a star-studded roster that includes Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt, Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Clint Boyer and Casey Mears behind the wheel, is the even money favorite to win the title.

Ford, with Edwards, Biffle and Kenseth driving for the famed automaker, is the 2/1 second choice while Toyota, with Busch and Denny Hamlin, is quoted at odds of 4/1.

Dodge, with Kasey Kahne as its leading driver, is the longshot in the field at odds of 12/1.

Forget a bailout from Washington; NASCAR betting should do just fine on its own this season.