On Sunday, February 17th, the 2019 NASCAR season gets underway with the 61st running of the Daytona 500, affectionately known as “The Great American Race.” The Daytona 500 is also considered NASCAR’s Super Bowl due to its overwhelming popularity with fans, drivers, teams, the media, and sponsors.
There’s a huge buzz heading into this year’s Daytona 500 due to many of the changes that NASCAR has made this offseason. The sport has opened its arms and league to betting on NASCAR, increased fan access at the tracks, and they’ve also changed up some of the rules that govern the sport. In the end, NASCAR is hoping that these changes will improve the TV ratings and bring more fans to the racing venues.
Daytona 500 Race Profile
The Daytona 500 is held at the Daytona International Speedway, which is a 2.5-mile long tri-oval track with four turns. This year’s race consists of the following profile:
- 200 Total laps
- Stage 1: First 60 laps
- Stage 2: Second 60 laps
- Stage 3: Final 80 laps
The Great American Race is set to begin at 2:30 PM ET and will air live on FOX.
What to Watch on Sunday
In 2019, NASCAR is hoping that some of the “young guns” can finally step up and compete with “the Big 3” of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. for a championship and for the checkered flag this weekend. Don’t count out Joey Logano, who is not only looking to repeat as NASCAR’s champion, but he’s also looking to win his 2nd career Daytona 500. What else to watch for:
- Will we see a repeat winner for the first time in 25 years?
- Can a young gun win the race?
- When will the “big one” happen?
- Will someone get their first career win at Daytona 500 this weekend?
- How will the drivers who changed teams perform this weekend?
Previous Daytona 500 Winners
The first Daytona 500 was raced in 1959 and won by Lee Petty, father of the great Richard Petty. Nicknamed “The King,” Richard Petty won his first Daytona 500 in 1964 and would go on to win this race a record seven times. The following is a list of recent Daytona 500 winners since 2010:
|2010||Jamie McMurray||Earnhardt Ganassi Racing|
|2011||Trevor Bayne||Wood Brothers Racing|
|2012||Matt Kenseth||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2013||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports|
|2014||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports|
|2015||Joey Logano||Team Penske|
|2016||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2017||Kurt Busch||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|2018||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing|
Daytona 500 Betting Odds
The following NASCAR betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
- Brad Keselowski +700
- Clint Bowyer +700
- Joey Logano +800
- Denny Hamlin +1000
- Kevin Harvick +1000
- Chase Elliott +1200
- Kyle Busch +1200
- Aric Almirola +1400
- Martin Truex Jr +1400
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr +1400
- Ryan Blaney +1400
- Kurt Busch +1600
- Alex Bowman +2000
- Daniel Suarez +2000
- Jimmie Johnson +2000
- William Byron +2000
- Erik Jones +2200
- Paul Menard +2800
- Austin Dillon +3300
- Kyle Larson +3300
- Darrell Wallace Jr +4000
- Ryan Newman +4000
- Daniel Hemric +5000
- Matt DiBenedetto +6600
- Michael McDowell +6600
- Ryan Preece +6600
- Chris Buescher +8000
- David Ragan +8000
- Ty Dillon +10000
Daytona 500 Betting Favorites
The following is a breakdown as to how the betting favorites have performed at the Daytona International Speedway in their careers:
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
Brad Keselowski +700
Brad comes into this season as not only one of the betting favorites to win the Daytona 500, but to also win the NASCAR championship. Last year, Keselowski finished 8th in the driver standings after going on a winning streak to close out the regular season. However, he stumbled in the first round of the playoffs and then was eliminated. Keselowski finished the year with three wins and looks to try and top that in 2019.
For the February Daytona race, Keselowski hasn’t finished in the top 10 since 2014. The last two years, he was caught up in crashes. Will this be the year that Brad wins his first ever Daytona 500?
Clint Bowyer +700
Bowyer made the playoffs in 2018 after winning two races during the regular season. Unfortunately, he didn’t fare well in the postseason and finished 12th overall. At Daytona last year, Bowyer finished 15th. However, he’s never won the Great American Race, and his best finish was 4th in 2009 and 2010. Could he beat out Keselowski and become a first-time winner?
Joey Logano +800
The defending NASCAR champion is looking to score the 2nd Daytona 500 win of his career. Logano won this race in 2015 and followed that up with a 6th, 6th, and 4th place finish over the last three years. That’s an average finish of 5.3. Logano hasn’t crashed out of this race since his rookie year in 2009. Joey is poised for another strong season and will be a contender for another title. He has the team and a fast Ford car that should compete with the likes of Harvick, Busch, and Truex Jr.
Denny Hamlin +1000
Hamlin is coming off arguably the worse year of his career. Denny was shutout in the win column and had the lowest top 5’s and top 10’s in the last five years. Additionally, he finished 11th on the year, which is his worst result since 2013 when he finished 23rd. But, that year, Hamlin had at least one win.
At Daytona, Hamlin has raced well over the last few years. He won this big race in 2016 by a nose, finished 3rd last year, he also has two 4th place finishes, and a runner up finish in 2014. Can Denny Hamlin bounce back in 2019 and get a second career win at NASCAR’s biggest race?
Kevin Harvick +1000
Kevin Harvick is picking up where he left off with oddsmakers in 2018, as he’s considered one of the odds-on favorites to win another race. Kevin was a weekly top five favorite last year, and that trend continues in 2019. Harvick won eight races in 2018 and finished 3rd overall. He’s now five years removed from winning the NASCAR championship but had the best year of his career in 2018 regarding wins and finishes.
Harvick won the 2007 Daytona 500 and also has a pair of runner up finishes in 2009 and 2015. However, he’s crashed out of three of the last four races at the DIS and hasn’t cracked the top five in the Daytona 500 since 2016.
In 2018, Harvick won three of the first four races. Will he be able to start 2019 with the same success?
Best Daytona 500 Betting Value
The following drivers offer solid betting value based on their current NASCAR betting odds and their career success at this track.
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
Chase Elliott (+1200)
If there’s one young gun driver that can compete with the big boys of NASCAR, it’s Chase Elliott. Last year, Elliott finished 6th overall in the standings and earned the first wins of his career. He finished the season with three victories including two of them in the playoffs. Chase also had 11 top 5’s and 21 Top 10’s.
At Daytona, Elliott has an incredible average starting spot of 5.5. Unfortunately, he hasn’t fared well when it comes to finishing. Chase has an average finish near the bottom of the pack. Last year, Elliott finished 9th as he was competing for a win before getting caught up in a wreck. Can Elliott start 2019 with his first ever Daytona win? Will he be able to contend for a title this year?
Kyle Busch (+1200)
Kyle closed out 2018 with a disappointing 4th place finish after tying Harvick for eight wins. Other than his 2015 championship season, some would argue that Kyle had the best year of his career in 2018. With that said, he only finished 25th at Daytona last season. It’s been three years since Kyle cracked the top five at this track. His one win at DIS was in the summer race of 2008. His best place finish in the 500 was 3rd back in 2016.
Kyle returns this year with a strong car, strong team, and a strong desire to win his first ever Daytona 500. In fact, it’s the only thing missing from his impressive resume. Will “Rowdy” survive the big crash at the end of the race and win on Sunday?
Austin Dillon (+3300)
Dillon is the reigning Daytona 500 champ who made the playoffs last year based on his win at this track. Although he only finished 13th in the standings, Dillon seems to have figured out how to race well at Daytona. In 11 career starts at DIS, Dillon has one win and seven top 10’s. Furthermore, he averages a starting spot and finishing spot within the top 14 every year. In his five Daytona 500’s, Dillon has one win and two top 10 finishes. His worst finish was 19th in 2017.
Not since Sterling Marlin in 1994 and 1995 has a driver won back-to-back Daytona 500’s. Will Dillon be the first since Marlin to accomplish this feat?
Best Daytona 500 Longshot
How can you not pick Matt DiBenedetto (+6600) as a longshot after he put his betting odds on blast via Twitter nearly two weeks ago?
Well, since then, Matt’s odds have come down from 200/1 to 66/1 with BetOnline. Even though there’s been an improvement with his chances, he’s still considered a longshot. In seven career starts at DIS, Matt has two top 10 finishes and two DNFs. However, he did finish 9th at the Daytona 500 in 2017, which was his second try at the Great American Race.
Daytona 500 Prop Bet: Driver Matchups
The following NASCAR prop bets require you to choose which driver you think will have the best finish out of the head-to-head matchup:
Chase Elliott – 105 vs Clint Bowyer -125
Clint Bowyer has more top five and top 10 finishes, along with a better average finish than Chase Elliott at the Daytona International Speedway. However, I believe these two drivers are on different career trajectories. Bowyer is a steady hand behind the wheel and one who can still get a win or two at this point in his career. But Chase Elliott is a young stud of a driver with a higher ceiling than Bowyer. Elliott scored three wins last year to Bowyer’s two wins. Chase has basically been at the tracks his entire life, and we’re going to see him become one of the sport’s top stars this year. I’m taking Elliott to beat out Bowyer at the Daytona 500 and throughout this season.
Aric Almirola -125 vs Kurt Busch -105
Almirola had a stellar 2018 season, which was a career-best for Aric. He scored the second win of his career and had the most top 5’s and top 10’s for a season in his 11-year career. Almirola finished 5th overall in the standings and had an average finish of 12.8 throughout the season. He beat out Kurt Busch by two spots in the standings. However, Busch did have more top 5’s and top 10’s than Almirola. He also had a better average start and average finish than Aric.
At DIS, Almirola has one win, two top 5’s, two top 10’s, and a 20.8 average finish. For Kurt, he’s had 35 starts at this track with one win, 13 top 5’s, 17 top 10’s, and a 17.7 average finish. Kurt won this race in 2017 and had numerous top 5’s and top 10’s prior.
Between these two drivers, Kurt has shown a consistent level of success at this track and I believe he will do it again on Sunday. I’m taking Busch over Almirola in this driver’s matchup.
“The Big One” at Daytona
By now, all NASCAR fans know what to expect when it comes to a Daytona 500 race – that’s “the Big One.” Almost every year, the end of the race comes down to who survives the big wreck that usually knocks out numerous drivers from the race. Last summer, at this track, the big wreck took out 17 drivers.
Not only has “the big one” become synonymous with restrictor plate racing, but it’s also a big reason why diehard and casual NASCAR fans tune in to races like the Daytona 500. Nobody wishes for a driver to get hurt, but there’s something breathtaking about watching cars flip through the air, flames shoot out from the hoods, and drivers walk away as if it was nothing more than a fender bender. Bottom line, whatever expectations you have for this year’s Daytona 500, you can throw it out the window because the real race doesn’t begin until there are 20 laps left and the big wreck collects its cars.
Who Will Win the Daytona 500?
As much as I would like to see someone like Chase Elliott win this race, I believe it’s time for Kyle Busch to finally win a Daytona 500. As mentioned above, this is the one major moment and trophy that Busch is missing from his career. I believe he will parlay his successful 2018 season into at least a top 5 finish on Sunday by the time it’s all said and done. Joining Kyle in the top 5 will be Elliott, Dillon, Hamlin, and Logano.
My Top 5 Drivers:
- Kyle Busch
- Chase Elliott
- Austin Dillon
- Denny Hamlin
- Joey Logano
NASCAR Betting Recap
Winner: Kyle Busch (+1200)
- Chase Elliott (+1200)
- Kyle Busch (+1200)
- Austin Dillon (+3300)
Best Longshot: Matt DiBenedetto (+6600)
- Chase Elliott (-105) over Clint Bowyer
- Kurt Busch -105 over Aric Almirola
The 2019 Daytona 500 Checkered Flag
Without a doubt, this is the biggest race of the year, and it’s an awesome way to kick off each and every season. We’ll have Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Gordon as the announcers, which will add to the overall excitement of this big event as both former races capture the essence of this NASCAR spectacle. After 2+ decades of watching this Great American Race, I’ve learned one important lesson – until “the big one” happens, the race hasn’t even started yet. Without further delay, let’s send it over to DW so he can get us all fired up for the race.