Jimmie Johnson started off his run to the 2013 Sprint Cup title with a thrilling victory in the Daytona 500 and he comes into this year’s race as one of five favorites to make his way to the winner’s circle at Daytona International Speedway this year as well.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites to win Sunday’s race along with our top value pick based on NASCAR odds provided by Sportsbook.
As mentioned, Jimmie Johnson is one of five favorites listed at +1000 to win this year’s Daytona 500 and for good reason. Not only did he win last year’s race, he completed the season sweep by winning the second race at Daytona in July. All told, the No. 48 car took a total of six checkered flags last season to help add a record sixth Sprint Cup title to one of the most impressive resumes in the history of stock car racing. Daytona has not always been one of Johnson’s favorite tracks with an average finishing position of 17.5, so he has to hope that the momentum created at Daytona from last season’s two runs carries over to this Sunday.
One of the other drivers listed at +1000 to win on Sunday is last season’s runner-up in the Sprint Cup point standings, Matt Kenseth. He remained neck-and-neck with Johnson for a good part of last year’s Chase, but a disastrous 23rd-place finish in the second-to-last race of the season at Phoenix ended any realistic shot at winning the title. The No. 20 car did lead the field in point-race victories last year with seven and it added five more top five finishes to the mix. Kenseth’s past performance at Daytona does drain some value from these odds. His average finishing position here is 17.5, but the most important thing is that he still knows how to win this race with victories in the 2009 and 2012 Daytona 500.
Another +1000 favorite to keep your eye on this Sunday is Kevin Harvick, who is now driving the No. 4 car this season. He finished third in last season’s standings on the strength of four victories and five additional top five finishes. He also came close to winning the Sprint Cup title in 2011 with another third-place finish. Harvick made an early exit in last year’s Daytona 500 after getting taken out in a wreck on the 47th lap, but he rebounded with a third-place finish in the second race at this track in 2013. His overall finishing position here is 16.0, but the highlights include a victory in the 2007 Daytona 500 as well as one in the second Daytona race in 2010.
Top Value PickThere is some solid value in all five drivers listed at +1000, which are actually longer odds for a Sprint Cup race, but if you are looking to stretch things a bit further then you might want to take a serious look at Brad Keselowski at +1200 to win on Sunday. This will be the start of just his fifth full season in the Sprint Cup series, but he has already made his mark by winning the 2012 title. The No. 2 car must have suffered from a championship-sized hangover last season by not even qualifying for the Chase, but all that did was add a huge collective chip on this team’s shoulder to get off to a fast start in this year’s campaign. This Sunday will only be Keselowski’s 10th career Sprint Cup race at fabled Daytona International Speedway and while the early results have not been all that good, he is coming off a fourth-place finish in last year’s race.