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NASCAR betting: Budweiser Duel preview and picks

Greg Engle is the editor of the racing blog CupScene.com and covers the Sprint Cup Series for the Examiner. You can follow him on Twitter @cupscene.

There are very few things in life that are sure bets. And so it goes with NASCAR’s opening salvo in the 2013 Sprint Cup season, the Daytona 500.

No one can say who will take the checkered flag Sunday. In fact, at this point, just where the 43 drivers will start and exactly who those drivers will be are somewhat of a mystery.
 
Some of the mystery will be solved Thursday with the running of the Duels At Daytona. The annual qualifying races will set the field for Sunday’s big show. And while there is very little drama this year as to who will be racing Sunday, racers compete to win and that always makes for a great show.
 
The top 15 finishers in each Duel – not including Danica Patrick (won Daytona 500 pole) or Jeff Gordon (starting No. 2) – will fill spots No. 3-32 in the starting lineup. The top 15 from the first Duel will make up the inside row and the top 15 from the second Duel will fill the outside row.

Spots 33-36 will go to those drivers not already locked in who earned the top four speeds during last Sunday’s pole qualifying. Spots 37-42 will go to the top six cars in 2012 owner points that are not already locked in. The 43rd position goes to the most recent past champion. If there is no eligible past champion, it reverts back to 2012 owner points.

For Mike Bliss and Brian Keselowski, the Duel at Daytona is vital. Because of their owner points and qualifying results (speeds were 44th and 45th, respectively), the only way they can make the Daytona 500 is via their Duel races. Keselowski is in the first Duel while Bliss is in the second. Consider them wildcards. They have very little chance of winning but that doesn’t mean they won’t try to get near the front.
 
Patrick will lead the 23 starters in the first Duel. While she may try and maintain the lead, look for her to be guarded should she fall back. Patrick will want to simply survive the 150-mile race intact. If she wrecks her car and is forced to a backup, she will lose her pole position and be forced to start in the back.

The other unknown in both races will be the new Gen 6 car. With the exception of the few drivers who survived the Sprint Unlimited last Saturday night, no one has had any real drafting practice with the new cars. That alone could make for a couple of very wild races.

Check out the rest of the Budweiser Duels preview and get Greg's picks to win here.

Odds to win Budweiser Duels


Duel 1

Dale Earnhardt Jr. +600      
Kevin Harvick +600      
Tony Stewart +600      
Jimmie Johnson +700      
Brad Keselowski +700      
Greg Biffle +700      
Carl Edwards +800      
Denny Hamlin +800      
Joey Logano +1200      
Kurt Busch  +1200      
Martin Truex Jr. +1200      
Trevor Bayne +1500      
Juan Montoya +2000      
Field +800

Duel 2

Matt Kenseth +400      
Kyle Busch +400      
Clint Bowyer +500      
Kasey Kahne +600      
Jeff Gordon +700      
Jeff Burton +1000      
Ryan Newman +1000      
Jamie McMurray +1000      
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. +1500      
Paul Menard  +1500      
Austin Dillon  +1500      
Mark Martin  +1500      
Field +800

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