Finally it's here...The GREAT American Race...The DAYTONA 500! One of the shortest off-seasons in major sports is over, and everyone is back on track and locked in for another run. Like most off-seasons, there was plenty of change. Drivers moving to new teams, drivers getting promoted and demoted, new sponsors, new alliances, new charters... and then there's the largest change - a BRAND new car. The Next Gen car is getting it's first true test in the biggest race of them all. What makes it different? Well there's lots of things. But generally the idea is that these new cars are a bit cheaper to put together and they supposedly put the "stock" back in stock car. More teams should be able to field competitive cars, which is good for the smaller and underfunded teams. There's a full video explaining the ins and outs of these slick new cars HERE if you want to learn more.
Anyway onto what you came here for - MY PICKS! Gambling is hardly an exact science in NASCAR, but Daytona is such a fun race to bet on because literally everyone has a chance to win. If you can avoid the big wrecks and be on the lead lap with 5 to go, you have just as good a shot as anyone regardless of who you drive for. I've broken my picks down into 3 categories: Favorites, Value Picks, Longshots. Plus a few side bets at the end. Keep in mind there are plenty of reasons to bet on all of the guys in the field, this is just who I am rolling with today.
Favorites - Top Tier Guys That Always Have a Shot To Win
Denny Hamlin (+800) - Superspeedways like Daytona are the only place where you will find the biggest favorite of the day to be available to bet at +800 odds. That's what makes these races so fun to gamble on. I'm not really "rooting" for Denny here, but he has the unquestioned success at this track and in this race. I'd pick him as the "get my money back" option just so you have it.
Kyle Larson (+900) - The defending cup series champion and the pole sitter for the Daytona 500. This might seem too obvious, but Kyle dominated in 2021 and the Hendrick cars showed some serious speed in qualifying. I expect him to continue his dominant run in the 5 car this year.
Chase Elliott (+1000) - Like I just mentioned with the Larson pick, these Hendrick Chevys are FAST. Even with the new car they already seem dialed in. Chase is also a recent champion and he runs well here. He's the most popular driver in the sport and for good reason. You'll see the 9 up front today.
Ryan Blaney (+1200) - We've seen this guy go up against all of the other greats at superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega and he's won at BOTH tracks. Team Penske runs really well here but seems to get caught up in the big one a lot. If he can stay out of trouble you'll see his neon colored #12 up front at the end for sure. He's also the only team Penske guy I root for.
Value Picks - Drivers That Have A Legit Shot To Win With Great Odds
Harrison Burton (+3300) - This is a straight up guess, but let's talk about why I like this pick. This is Harrison's first season full time in the cup series. But my man was pretty darn good in the XFINITY series. The #21 Wood Brothers car is always competitive at the superspeedways regardless of who is behind the wheel, and I think Harrison is eager to make his mark. A decent take at +3300.
Justin Haley (+4000) - Justin Haley is the first full time driver for Kaulig Racing in the cup series. That team has had unprecedented success in the XFINITY series and I expect that same tenacity as they move up to the cup series. Justin has actually won a cup race on a superspeedway before, but that was kind of a fluke with a rain shortened race. He's in great equipment for this run and I like him and his value today.
*PICK OF THE DAY*
Michael McDowell (+4000) - I have been cheering for this guy for a LONG time. He always showed up and raced well on these big tracks, and he FINALLY broke through and won this race last year. Recency bias aside, this team knows it can make things happen here. He was super fast in the practice sessions and as long as he doesn't wreck, I really think that LOVES car will be up front at the end. People might not cut him as much slack this time around though - and he has no real teammates to help. We will see.
Eric Jones (+5000) - This guy has bounced around in his career, but I think he is the best driver the 43 car has had in quite some time. While the Petty team is famous beyond words, they aren't ultra competitive these days. But at a track like this Eric Jones has as good a shot as any.
Long Shots - Guys You Should Sprinkle Money On With A Shot To Win BIG
Noah Gragson (+10000) - I think you need to have this guy on your betslip. Not only is he a premiere driver in the XFINITY series (who was up front all day yesterday), he's in a car that ONLY runs these big tracks and runs them well. The 62 Beard Motorsports team loves bringing fast hotrods to these tracks, and Brendan Gaughan knows what he's doing with this team.
David Ragan - (+15000) - David retired, but is back in action on a limited basis for what is usually a terrible Rick Ware racing team. But his experience on these tracks is valuable. Normally I'd say his equipment stinks, but this new car evens the playing field in my opinion. If he can hang around, he knows how to move up front.
Other Bets I Like
Chase Elliot To Finish Ahead Of Kevin Harvick (-150)
Brad Keselowski to finish ahead of Kurt Busch (-115)
Daniel Suarez to finish ahead of Cole Custer (-105)
Top 10 Finish:
Ross Chastain (+110)
Daniel Hemric (+150)
Corey Lajoie (+275)
Todd Gilliland (+400)