NASCAR Daytona 500: Preview and Best Bet

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NASCAR Daytona 500: Preview and Best Bet
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Great Lakes Flooring Ford at Daytona Superspeedway. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

The Daytona 500 will take place on Sunday, and we’ve got you covered for all your sports betting needs. Read on for a preview and analysis of NASCAR’s highest-profile racing event.

Daytona 500

Sunday, February 14, 2021 – 2:30 PM ET at Daytona International Speedway

The Daytona 500 is arguably the biggest motor racing event of the year. Besides marking the start of NASCAR’s new season, this event carries with it the greatest level of prestige and the most anticipation.

In some ways, this event is iconic for NASCAR. One notorious aspect of the Daytona 500 is the likelihood that drivers will crash. This event does a lot to explain why people expect car crashes in NASCAR races.

Top sportsbooks like BetOnline and Bovada will wait for qualifying to take place before they release their betting odds. In addition to explaining a seemingly complicated qualifying process, I will let you know what else to look for in the race, who you should not bet on, and who you should bet on.

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How The Starting Lineup Will Be Determined 

One thing is set: 40 drivers will occupy the field for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Three events will take place in order to determine the order in which the drivers line up.

The first event is the single-car time trials. You can follow this event on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. In this event, each driver will complete one lap. The fastest two drivers will qualify for the first row.

The next two events are duels, both of which will take place on Thursday evening. The first duel starts at 7 p.m. ET, and the next one will start shortly afterward. Each duel consists of 60 laps — and therefore 150 miles. Beyond the first row, Sunday’s event will be ordered according to the results of the duels.

I recommend keeping an eye on what happens in these preliminary events. It is important to see how the different cars run on the track. Also, these preliminary results — and the starting lineup order on Sunday — provide important insight into the betting results. Before last year, the past eight winners had started the race 14th or better. Six of those eight winners also started among the top 10.

Last year was an exception as Denny Hamlin won despite starting 21st. This exception proves that starting position should not absolutely exclude any driver from betting consideration. But still, history shows that starting lineup is an important factor for bettors to consider.

Daytona Superspeedway
A general view of the Daytona International Speedway. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

Race Info 

The race will consist of 200 laps. Since each lap is 2.5 miles long, drivers will have accumulated 500 miles by the race’s conclusion — if they have not crashed. Those 200 laps take place on an asphalt track. Daytona’s racing track is known as a superspeedway, of which there are two in the NASCAR Cup Series: Daytona and Talladega. As the name suggests, a superspeedway will witness greater speeds.

One thing that supports high speeds in Daytona is the banking of the track. With greater banking, a driver is able to collect more momentum for himself. This track is banked at 31 degrees on the turns and 18 degrees at the front stretch. These are relatively high numbers.

People often group Daytona and Talladega together because they are both superspeedways. But this couldn’t be more wrong. Talladega is more about mechanics, about a car’s ability to obtain higher speeds. In contrast, Daytona is more about the driver. A driver’s tires will wear out relatively fast in Daytona, so drivers need to possess handling skills. They also need more strategic skills for passing Daytona’s narrow pathways.

When placing our Best Bets, we want to avoid being misled by these drivers’ past results at Talladega because Talladega is too different from Daytona.

Hamlin and Harvick
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Ford. Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images/AFP

Who To Avoid 

This will be a great event for bettors because higher-value options will make more sense to invest in. The situation calls for us to avoid the bigger names that will typically draw more attention from the public. One stay-away is Kevin Harvick, last year’s regular-season champion.

Harvick was almost a must-bet throughout last season. But at Daytona, his average finishing position since February 2018 is 21.67, which ranks him 37th. It’s true that the average finishing position can be a bit misleading for this event because crashes are so common. Obviously, crashes will hurt one’s average finishing position.

The thing is: Harvick is not good at avoiding accidents in Daytona, which helps explain why he’s finished better than 19th only twice in his last 10 attempts at this track. Also, stay away from Denny Hamlin. Hamlin has won this event two consecutive times. But it’s statistically unlikely for him to win it a third consecutive time because it has never been done.

My Guy

My favorite driver to back for Sunday’s event is Ryan Blaney. When Blaney finishes at this track, he’s done quite well. His last try at Daytona resulted in a sixth-place finish. Last February, he started 27th but still managed to finish second. Relatively young at 27, youth will place Blaney in a positive situation, as six of the last eight winners at superspeedway races were younger than 30.

Because the NASCAR Odds are so attractive and because a car crash could befall anybody if misfortune chooses to be unrelenting, it makes sense to invest in multiple drivers. In addition to Blaney, I recommend Joey Logano, who is the only active driver that has a higher driver rating at this track than Blaney. Logano has also already won once in Daytona.

For the above reasons, back Blaney and Logano with your NASCAR Betting Picks.

Best Bet: Ryan Blaney To Win & Joey Logano To Win (Odds TBA)

Blaney to Win & Logano to Win(TBA)
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