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Who wants to throw some of your hard-earned dollars at the biggest wild card on the NASCAR schedule – the Daytona 500?
Of course you do!
By and large, betting on NASCAR isn’t all that fun. Take out the road courses and two superspeedway races, and you can pretty much narrow done the list of possible winners to about five drivers.
Last year was certainly a step in the right direction with the Next Gen car, which flipped the field upside down for the first half of the season, but still … you’re pretty much going to be sprinkling some money on the same few guys every week and let the chips fall where they may.
But not the Daytona 500. Nope. NASCAR’s biggest race – it’s Super Bowl – is about as wide open as they come. Last year’s winner was rookie Austin Cindric.
He was 26/1.
Two years ago, Michael McDowell won his first career race in over 400 starts right here at the Daytona 500. He was around 50/1.
So, yeah. You can take some risks at this joint and feel pretty good about at least one paying off.
Luckily for you, I’m gonna do the heavy lifting ahead of the green flag and help you get rich.
So, who are the Daytona 500 sleepers?
Great question, because there are a ton.
Corey LaJoie is sitting at +10000 at DraftKings right now, so let’s start there. Corey is one of those guys who can pretty much only win at this place or Talladega because of his equipment, and he’s come close a few times.
Hell, he nearly won Atlanta – which is basically a superspeedway at this point – last spring. LaJoie also finished fifth in Thursday’s second qualifier, if that means anything to you.
Ty Gibbs, in his first full-time Cup season, isn’t a terrible sprinkle at 50/1, either. Gibbs is in a car plenty capable of winning and has a pretty decent option in teammate Denny Hamlin to lean on if things go south.
Erik Jones at 35/1 is a bit tempting, too. Jones is a two-time Daytona winner, although he’s never won this race.
Daytona 500 NASCAR best bets
Here are the guys you can feel good about putting a little money on, but still aren’t the favorites.
It starts and stops with Michael McDowell. Here’s a hint from someone who’s covered this race a few times: always bet on Michael McDowell.
He won this race two years ago and is literally always – and I mean ALWAYS – in contention with 10 laps to go. Guy just knows how to superspeedway race, and he has the respect, and trust, of everyone in the garage. That’s huge in this race.
McDowell sitting at 35/1 is a steal. Put the ticket in before finishing this sentence if that’s at all possible. I doubt it is, but give it a shot.
Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 a few years back, and nearly won again last year. He likes his car this week, was fast in the qualifiers, and will have plenty of help in the Chevy camp.
He’s a good gamble at 30/1, as is Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Aric Almirola won Thursday’s second qualifier and almost beat Dillon a few years back before getting punted on the final lap, and you can get him at 25/1 right now. Probably worth it if you can swing it.
One more here, and I know it probably won’t be popular around here but this ain’t a beauty contest …
Bubba Wallace is 18/1 and is almost always in contention with 20 to go. He’s come close a handful of times, and is coming off his best season.
Probably a smart choice.
Who are the Daytona 500 favorites?
Finally, here are the favorites. They’ll cost you a little more, but a couple are probably worth it.
Denny Hamlin at 13/1 isn’t terrible – frankly, he should be a little higher IMO. Don’t quite get that one. Ryan Blaney is right in front of him at 12/1 and is always fast here, but yours truly has a hunch about him this weekend.
That’s probably who I’m hitching my wagon to, if it matters.
I’m not sure I’d go with anyone else here. Chase Elliott is always a popular pick for this race, but Clyde can’t ever bring it home in one piece.
Which means, of course, he’s basically guaranteed to now win.
You’re welcome, Chase!