Best Bets for the Daytona 500 (2020 NASCAR Betting)

Feb 14, 2020 - 9:35 PM

To me, the Super Bowl only means that it’s two weeks until Daytona. And those two weeks are up, so it’s time to drop the hammer and dig into betting on this year’s Great American Race.

Before we begin, I’d like to congratulate you on being bold enough to even consider betting this weekend. Daytona and Talladega are unpredictable every year — but there are some data points we can use to figure out who might make us some money this weekend.

The debut of the current Superspeedway package at Talladega last year limits our sample size to three full-length races: Talladega 1, Daytona 2, and Talladega 2. But Justin Haley won Daytona 2 because of rain, which means we shouldn’t weigh that race as heavily. Similarly, Talladega 2 was a playoff race, and drivers may have run that race differently because of points positioning. Fortunately, the Busch Clash and the two Daytona Duels give us some other useful data points. But still, with such a small sample size, how can we properly evaluate this one?

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Average Finishes

Let’s begin by looking at the ten drivers with the highest average finish in the new Superspeedway format. I’ve excluded any drivers who didn’t run all three of those races last year to preserve the data’s integrity (looking at you, Justin Haley).

Driver Manufacturer Avg. Finish
Ryan Newman Ford 4.667
Aric Almirola Ford 6.667
Corey LaJoie Ford 8
Ty Dillon Chevrolet 10.333
Joey Logano Ford 13.333
Kyle Busch Toyota 14.333
Kurt Busch Chevrolet 14.667
Chase Elliott Chevrolet 14.667
Daniel Hemric Chevrolet 14.667
Paul Menard Ford 16

What does this list tell us? First, it’s clear that Fords are fast at Superspeedways, as they make up half the chart. It’s not just one team, either, as none of the Ford drivers on this list are teammates (unless you count Paul Menard as a Penske driver because of Wood Brothers Racing’s alliance with the team).

Next, we can see that Toyotas have struggled. Denny Hamlin would’ve been the next Toyota driver on this list, but his average finish of 21.667 leaves him 21st overall. The entire Toyota stable has combined to lead just 36 laps in the three Superspeedway races with the new package out of a possible 503 — that’s less than eight percent.

Lastly, it’s tough to draw conclusions about the Chevrolets. A few of their guys did well, and Chase Elliott’s average finish of 14.667 includes a win, but the Chevy drivers were inconsistent in these races. The new nose for the Camaro may address some of that issue, but this data won’t tell us anything about those changes.

Daytona Duel Results

If we want information on the new Chevrolet noses, the Daytona Duels are the best place to look. The Duels might also be a good place to find the race winner — between 2013 and 2019, or the lifespan of the Gen-6 car that’s currently in use — the eventual winner has finished top-five in their Duel six out of seven possible times. The only exception came in 2018 when Austin Dillon won the race after finishing sixth in his Duel.

Let’s assume that a top-six finishing position is required to win the Daytona 500. That gets us down to 12 options, which is a third of the full-size field, and I’ve included them in the chart below.

Pos. Duel 1 Duel 2
1 Joey Logano (Ford) William Byron (Chevrolet)
2 Aric Almirola (Ford) Jimmie Johnson (Chevrolet)
3 Ryan Newman (Ford) Kyle Larson (Chevrolet)
4 Brad Keselowski (Ford) Kevin Harvick (Ford)
5 Bubba Wallace (Chevrolet) Cole Custer (Ford)
6 Austin Dillon (Chevrolet) Erik Jones (Toyota)

Fords and Chevrolets controlled the Duels, which is precisely what they did at the three Superspeedway races last year. You have to be impressed by the consistency of Newman, Almirola, and Logano, as the three of them continue to dominate in the new Superspeedway package. It looks like Chevrolet should be competitive as well, and they’ve got two past winners of this race, Dillon and Jimmie Johnson, on our shortlist. Chase Elliott’s disappointing Duel performance keeps him off, however, even though he commanded the first race that featured the Superspeedway package.

Betting Odds

Let’s take a look at how the betting markets see this one. DraftKings Sportsbook is offering a ton of odds for the Daytona 500, including bets on the top-three, top-five, top-six, and top-10 finishers, along with some prop bets that put drivers against one another. I’ll focus on their odds to win, to finish in the top three, and to finish in the top 10.

Driver To Win Top-3 Top-10
Kyle Busch +900 +250 -125
Denny Hamlin +900 +250 -125
Joey Logano +1000 +275 -118
Kevin Harvick +1100 +300 -112
Martin Truex Jr +1200 +325 -106
Brad Keselowski +1200 +325 -106
Chase Elliott +1400 +375 +100
Ryan Blaney +1600 +400 +115
William Byron +2000 +500 +130
Matt DiBenedetto +2000 +500 +130
Jimmie Johnson +2000 +500 +130
Ricky Stenhouse Jr +2000 +500 +130
Aric Almirola +2200 +550 +150
Alex Bowman +2200 +550 +150
Clint Bowyer +2500 +600 +160
Kurt Busch +2500 +600 +160
Kyle Larson +2500 +600 +160
Erik Jones +2800 +700 +175
Austin Dillon +3300 +800 +200
Ryan Newman +3300 +800 +200
Bubba Wallace +4000 +1000 +225
Christopher Bell +5000 +1200 +250
Chris Buescher +5000 +1200 +250
Cole Custer +5000 +1200 +250
Ty Dillon +5000 +1200 +250
Tyler Reddick +5000 +1200 +250
Ross Chastain +6000 +1400 +275
Michael McDowell +8000 +2000 +350
John H. Nemechek +8000 +2000 +350
Ryan Preece +10000 +2500 +400
Justin Haley +10000 +2500 +400
David Ragan +10000 +2500 +400
Brendan Gaughan +12500 +3000 +450
Brennan Poole +20000 +5000 +650
Corey LaJoie +20000 +5000 +650
Reed Sorenson +25000 +6000 +900
B.J. McLeod +25000 +6000 +900
Joey Gase +40000 +10000 +1200
Timmy Hill +40000 +10000 +1200
Quin Houff +40000 +10000 +1200

I’m shocked to see a pair of Toyotas leading the board. Sure, a Toyota won the Busch Clash last week, but only a third of the field finished the race. Additionally, Toyotas made up 22 percent of the entries in that race, compared to 12.5 percent of the Daytona 500 field, so we know that they’ll have even less help this Sunday. And while Toyotas did perform well in last year’s Great American Race, they weren’t using the current Superspeedway package back then, so I doubt it’ll be that predictive.

I’m also surprised to see DraftKings so low on Aric Almirola and Ryan Newman across the board. Sure, they’re longshots to win the race, but neither of them has finished outside the top 10 in the new Superspeedway format.

Best Bets

I’ll select one driver for each category: to win, to finish in the top three, and to finish in the top-10.

To Win: Joey Logano (+1000)
This one is easy for me. Logano has the highest average finish among the betting favorites to win this year’s Great American Race, and he was competitive at every Superspeedway event last year. His worst finish came in a rain-shortened race at Daytona, although he won its first stage and led 40 laps before finishing 25th. He’s a much safer play than either Kyle Busch or Denny Hamlin, given Toyota’s struggles at Superspeedways, and his Duel finish proves that he’s got the car to compete.

To Finish in the Top Three: Ryan Newman (+800)
Hear me out on this one. Newman has finished in seventh, second, and fifth in the new package. He also proved that he’s got a competitive car when he finished third in his Duel. While Newman may not end up with the win, he’s an experienced driver who can keep his car clean (well, sometimes) at Superspeedways. He’s won a Daytona 500 once before, too. If he’s in the right place at the right time, you could come home with a good chunk of change.

To Finish in the Top 10: Aric Almirola (+150) or Ryan Newman (+200)
The odds are profitable enough to justify locking in this one on either guy. Both of them have never finished outside the top 10 at Superspeedways in the new package, and their Duel performances give us little reason to think that anything’s changed. Further, both drivers have strong backgrounds at Superspeedway tracks. Like Newman, Almirola has won at Daytona before (albeit in a rain-shortened July race, not the 500), and he even won at Talladega back in 2018. And earlier that year, he was leading the Daytona 500 on the last lap before getting turned by eventual race-winner Austin Dillon. While neither of these guys may win the race, you can still make some money as long as they can maintain their strong Superspeedway streaks.

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Isaiah Sirois is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Isaiah, check out his archive and follow him @is_sirois.

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