NASCAR Bud Shootout betting

The NASCAR betting season starts up its engine this weekend with the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.

The Budweiser Shootout drops the green flag on another NASCAR year. If you're a NASCAR betting fan and you plan on making a few wagers this weekend you have to put at least a couple bucks on Kevin Harvick.

Harvick won the Shootout last season, which was his second Shootout win in a row after also taking the checkered flag in 2009. Harvick also looks like a winning pick on the latest Shootout matchups at 5Dimes.

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Oddsmakers have Harvick going up against Kyle Busch, who's still looking for his first career Shootout win. The matchup odds haven't been posted yet at 5Dimes, but check back for them later in the week because real money could be made on Harvick if he can three-peat at Daytona.

Harvick may be a two-time reigning Shootout champion, but he doesn't lead this weekend's field in Shootout victories. That would be Tony Stewart, with three career Shootout wins. He last won in 2007 and also took the checkers in 2001 and 2002.

Stewart's matched up against Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 5Dimes and could be a profitable pick if he beats both of them to the finish line again on Sunday.

Other than Harvick and Stewart other former Shootout winners in this weekend's field include two-time winner Earnhardt Jr. (2003, 2008), Denny Hamlin (2006), Jimmie Johnson (2005), Mark Martin (1999), and two-time winner Jeff Gordon (1994, 1997).

NASCAR bettors should also be looking at next week's Daytona 500 when they're making their bets this weekend. At 5Dimes the odds for the opening race of the season are already up and the favorite is Harvick at +800. Harvick won the 500 back in 2007, and since that win he's posted a pair of Top 10 finishes in the race, including finishing second in 2009.

[ NASCAR handicapping stats, including driver database, track information and history and driver bios - check it out here at OddsShark.com ]

The reigning Daytona 500 champion is Jamie McMurray after he stunned everyone with a late charge to the finish line last year. McMurray is a big underdog to repeat as the champ at +1200 at 5Dimes and history isn't on his side either as no one has repeated at the Daytona 500 since Sterling Marlin's back-to-back wins in 1994-95.

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