Talk about a big gamble…

Denny Hamlin’s refusal to pay a $25,000 fine opened a massive can of worms for NASCAR, one that will clearly impact the standings of the 2013 Sprint Cup season. Here’s why:

NASCAR can’t have it both ways:
What did NASCAR management expect with the “Boys, have at it” policy? Aggressive behavior on the track yields aggressive behavior off the track. Part of that behavior is the strong expression of opinion. Fining Denny Hamlin and calling Brad Keselowski to the principal’s office sends a mixed message.
NASCAR sponsors can’t have it both ways:
The issues of Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez, Kobe Bryant and Lance Armstrong have made sponsors nervous. They want clean and clear.
NASCAR, at its best, isn’t a clean and clear sport. NASCAR’s most beloved drivers had character, even if it ruffled feathers. Sponsors supported Dale Earnhardt whenever he intimidated. Sponsors supported Tony Stewart during his dustups. Sponsors supported Jimmie Johnson when his team got busted for rules violations. 

Kyle Busch doesn’t need a muzzle. No drivers do for that matter. NASCAR needs to find ways where brands reflect the drivers better. It would create better racing on the track, which would generate more interest off the track. 

NASCAR needs its best drivers driving well:
I genuinely believe Kyle Busch isn’t the same driver because of this drama away from the track. I fear Denny Hamlin is heading down that road. As a result, I’m steering away from both at Las Vegas, where I hope to make some fake money back after Carl Edwards cost me at Phoenix. Here are some quick picks for the sake of entertainment and entertainment alone.
15 fake dollars on Tony Stewart at 8/1
Stewart won this race last year and has led more laps here than any driver over the last five races. This means he has no chance of winning.

10 fake dollars on Carl Edwards at 10/1
NASCAR’s poster boy wins in bunches, won this race two years ago and has the second best average finish at Vegas among active drivers. 
10 fake dollars on Greg Biffle at 12/1
Roush Fenway Racing is known for its success at 1.5 mile tracks. This is the first 1.5 mile track of the year. Greg Biffle still works for Roush Fenway Racing. Can I make this logic anymore linear? 
10 fake dollars on Matt Kenseth at 15/1
Kenseth knows the Roush Fenway setup, had double the odds of Kyle Busch and none of Denny Hamlin’s drama.
3 fake dollars on Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at 50/1
I’m a believer, to the point I will continue this Roush Fenway thread as far as it can go.
2 fake dollars on Marcos Ambrose at 100/1
This would make my season. Ambrose has the fifth best average finish among active drivers at Vegas. I’ve made dumber fake wagers.
No drama with these picks. Let’s hope for some racing drama Sunday in Vegas. Here’s what The Spread thinks. Enjoy the 2013 Kobalt Tools 400, and insert random catchphrase here. 

For the season:
Down 150 fake dollars
Jimmie Johnson 6/1

Kyle Busch 8/1
Brad Keselowski 8/1
Tony Stewart 8/1
Denny Hamlin 8/1
Carl Edwards 10/1
Jeff Gordon 10/1
Greg Biffle 12/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr 12/1
Kevin Harvick 15/1
Clint Bowyer 15/1
Kasey Kahne 15/1
Matt Kenseth 15/1
Joey Logano 30/1
Ryan Newman 30/1
Mark Martin 30/1
Martin Truex Jr 30/1
Ricky Stenhouse 50/1
Kurt Busch 60/1
Aric Almirola 100/1
Paul Menard 100/1
Marcos Ambrose 100/1
Juan Montoya 100/1
Jamie McMurray 200/1
Jeff Burton 200/1
Austin Dillon 200/1
Trevor Bayne 200/1
Danica Patrick 300/1
Bobby Labonte 300/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 100/1