We’re still a month away from NASCAR’s season opener, but it’s never too early to look at the favorites and long shots for this year’s “Great American Race.”
Several online sportsbooks have released their odds for this year’s Daytona 500, and as is the case for most restrictor plate races, we have a couple “favorites,” but essentially a lot of drivers grouped together with similar odds.
Before he retired, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was always the favorite to win whenever the series stopped at Daytona or Talladega. Now, that torch has been passed to Brad Keselowski. MyBookie.ag has the driver of the #2 Ford as the 8/1 favorite for this year’s Daytona 500, while his teammate, Joey Logano, is set at 9/1.
Can Keselowski Break Through With A Win?
There’s no doubt that Brad Keselowski has the talent to win at restrictor plate tracks, as he has went to victory lane 5 times in 20 career starts at Talladega. But when it comes to Daytona, the numbers aren’t good. Brad’s 23.0 average finish here is his worst among all active tracks–excluding the Charlotte Roval, which the series has only raced at once–and his DNF rate of 42.1% is a big reason why.
Still, Keselowski has shown flashes of plate racing excellence at Daytona before, including a dominating win in the 2016 July race (he led 115 of the 161 laps) as well as 3rd- and 4th-place finishes in the 2014 and 2013 Daytona 500s. He’s one of those drivers where, if he wins, you’re not going to be surprised. But as far as betting goes, I personally don’t like to take the favorites at restrictor plate tracks, simply because these races are basically a crap shoot–so let’s have a little fun with some long shots!
Betting Value for the 2019 Daytona 500
Looking back at the 2018 NASCAR season, we saw Austin Dillon win the Daytona 500, and then Erik Jones come away with the win in a wreck-filled July race the same track. At Talladega, 2018 Champion Joey Logano took the checkered flag in the first race, and then it was Aric Almirola who grabbed his second career win in the fall event, giving him one win each at both restrictor plate tracks (Almirola won the 2014 July race at Daytona).
As far as this year’s upcoming Daytona 500 goes, Logano and Almirola are both among the favorites, currently at 9/1 and 12/1 to win (respectively). Jones is currently 20/1 to win the 2019 “Great American Race” while Austin Dillon is at 30/1–a pretty good value considering Daytona is arguably Austin’s best track on the schedule, as he owns a career average finish of 13.4 here with seven finishes of 9th or better in eleven career starts.
Right now, though, my favorite “longshot” is Ryan Newman, sitting there at 50/1 to win. Now, Newman has by no means made a name for himself as a restrictor plate driver, but he did win the 2008 Daytona 500 while driving for Roger Penske. He’s also had just five DNFs at this track, which translates to a 85.3% finish rate over 34 total starts, all the while completing 96.4% of the laps–a significantly high number for a track like Daytona.
However, what’s to like most about Newman for this year’s “Great American Race” is his equipment: “The Rocketman” will be driving for Roush-Fenway Racing in 2019, taking over the #6 Ford from Trevor Bayne. Newman’s new teammate, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., had a stranglehold on the field when it came to restrictor plate tracks in 2017, winning two of the four races but really being in full contention for each.
Additionally, Ford itself has been the manufacturer to beat on this track type as of late, and looking at Daytona specifically, the Blue Ovals have won five of the last nine points-paying races here overall. Toyota and Chevrolet are tied with two wins each over that same span.
On-track racing begins at Daytona International Speedway on Febrauary 10, 2019 with the Advance Auto Parts Clash, followed by the Can-Am Duel races the following Thursday. That’s when we’ll really get a good look at who should have the strongest cars for the 2019 Daytona 500 on February 17.
Early Daytona 500 Betting Odds
|Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||12/1|
|Martin Truex, Jr.||15/1|
|Field (Any Other)||12/1|