The Sam's Town 300, part of NASCAR's second-level Nationwide Series, actually pre-dates the Sprint Cup race that is now known as the Shelby American by a year, as it was first held in 1997 (with Jeff Green the winner). It is held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which accommodates 142,000 fans.
Date: Saturday, February 27th
Start Time: 4:30 p.m. (et)
Site: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1996) — Las Vegas, Nevada
Track: 1.5-mile oval
Total purse: $1,646,708 (2009 figures)
Payouts: 1st Place - $94,870; 2nd Place - $64,150; 3rd Place - $48,900
On TV: ESPN 2
Announcers: Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree
On Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS XM Satellite
Race record: Jeff Burton, 2000 (135.118 m.p.h.)
Qualifying record: Scott Speed, 2009 (182.451 m.p.h.)
The race has never seen back-to-back winners, although Jeff Burton has won it three times — in 2000, 2002 and 2007, as has Mark Martin (1999, 2005, 2008). Last year Greg Biffle (+800 to win) emerged victorious in a race that was extended due to a green-white-checkered flag finish. This year Kyle Busch, a hometown hero and defending Nationwide Series champion, is the +175 favorite, and at +700 to win the Sprint Cup race the next day, there is a shot that he could wind up a double winner in front of family and friends.
Odds To Win NASCAR Sam's Town 300 (odds provided by BetUS.com)
- Kyle Busch +175
- Denny Hamlin +300
- Carl Edwards +500
- Kevin Harvick +500
- Brian Vickers +800
- Greg Biffle +800
- Brad Keselowski +1000
- Paul Menard +1500
- Justin Allgaier +1500
- Colin Braun +1800
- Jason Leffler +1800
- Field (Any Other Driver) +700
We want to talk about one of the drivers who is in that "Field" bet (all other drivers) who hasn't established a winning formula in NASCAR just yet, and may not for a while.
Danica Patrick has shown some flashes of the ability that many people thought might make her a success on day in a stock car, but thus far there have been a few speed bumps, so to speak. It doesn't help her that the focus of her career still is not NASCAR, but instead the Indy Car circuit, where she has experienced much more in the way of results with less of a competitive field to contend with.
She was in Alabama through Thursday testing her Indy machine, and returns in time to start practicing for the Sam Town 300, hoping for a better outcome than the first couple of times she has raced as part of the Nationwide circuit — 35th place finish in the Camping World 300 at Daytona, and 31st in the Stater Brothers 300 at Fontana. She'd naturally prefer something more like her debut in the ARCA/RE-MAX series at Daytona on February 6, when she miraculously avoided a collision, recovered, and finished sixth.
Whatever happens, this is the last time we'll see her on a NASCAR track until June 26, when she lines up with her Chevrolet in the New England 200 in New Hampshire.
Of course, until then she is, among other things, chasing a win in the Indianapolis 500, where she finished third last year and has had four top-ten finishes in five years. Patrick is the first woman to win an Indy Car Series event, the Japan 300, in 2008. .
There is discussion as to whether her entry into the Nationwide Series, with the eventual goal to get to the Sprint Cup, is a benefit in the way that it gets more attention, or whether a driver who is, in effect, moonlighting taking too much away from those who are in the trenches every week.
When it comes down to it, the law of the marketplace prevails, doesn't it?
That's why even after the hiatus, people will be watching Patrick's every move. It is nothing unusual for drivers to cross over from one discipline to another; it has been done throughout history.
Some have made the transition rather smoothly in recent years: Juan Pablo Montoya comes to mind as an active driver in NASCAR who has won the Indy 500, the Monaco Grand Prix (Formula One), the 24 Hours of Daytona and finished 8th in last year's Sprint Cup standings. A.J. Foyt has won the Indy 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Daytona 500. Mario Andretti won the Indy 500, the Formula One world title, and the Daytona 500.
Of course, others are having it a little more difficult. Sam Hornish Jr. is a three-time Indy Car champion, but has yet to win a race on the NASCAR circuit, and has only two top-five finishes to show for 74 career starts. Scott Speed was a rare American entry in Formula One for two years, without a podium finish, and though he had some success in the ARCA/RE-MAX Series, he has been in the top ten only once in 42 Sprint Cup starts.
Past history suggests Biffle (+800) wouldn't repeat, but look out for Kevin Harvick (+500) if the favorite, Kyle Busch, doesn't get redemption for his 39th-place finish last year.