NASCAR’s 2016 Sprint Cup season once again kicks things off for our sports picks in a big way with the running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
Kyle Busch begins defense of his 2015 Sprint Cup title and Joey Logano will try and get off to another fast start after winning last year’s Daytona 500. The one thing we do know is that the sport’s top drivers will be going all out this Sunday for NASCAR’s biggest prize.
Top Valued Favorite
There is a reason why Dale Earnhardt Jr. tends to open as the favorite to win at Daytona and there could be some special motivation behind his +600 betting odds to win on Sunday. This year’s event marks the 15th anniversary of when his father lost his life in this very race. The No. 88 car with Dale Jr. behind the wheel has raced well in recent years at Daytona including a victory in the second point race of the season here in 2015. The real value in his odds to win goes back to his last six races at Daytona in a Sprint Cup point race where he has been able to place third or better in four of those events.
Top Valued Contender
Speed Week got off to a wild start with Denny Hamlin’s thrilling victory in the 75-lap Sprint Unlimited and his odds to end the week on a high with another win on Sunday have been set at +1200. I love the value in those odds considering what the No. 11 brings to the table. This team posted two victories and 12 additional Top-5 finishes on its way to a ninth-place finish in the final Sprint Cup standings in 2015, but the main reason I like Hamlin on Sunday is his recent form at this track. While he is still looking for his first career point-race victory at Daytona, he continues to come dangerously close with a finish of sixth or better in his last four races here.
Top Valued Longshot
The wide-open nature of any NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona adds value to the entire field, especially when it comes to picking longshots. As long as you can stay on the lead lap to the finish you will have a chance to win. Moving down Bovada’s betting odds for Sunday, I have settled-in on Jamie McMurray at +2800 as my top-valued longshot. Driving the No. 1 car, he managed to qualify for last season’s Chase only to exit in the opening round to finish 13th in the final Sprint Cup standings. The main thing that stands out in my mind is his 2010 victory in this race. Winning a Daytona 500 once gives any driver a big advantage over all the other drivers in the field still looking for that first trip to the Winner’s Circle.
Racing Odds For Other Notable Drivers
The second-favorite to win on Sunday is six-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson at +900 betting odds. There is a trio of drivers including 2014 champion Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth at +1000. The group at +1200 along with Hamlin includes Brad Keselowski and reining champ Kyle Busch. Sprint Cup rookie Chase Elliott will be on the pole for Sunday after posting the fastest qualifying time and his odds to win are set at +1800.