NASCAR Sprint Cup SeriesSunday, February 23 – 1:00 p.m. EDT
Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, FL
Another NASCAR season gets underway with the historic Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon. Daytona International Speedway, completed in 1959, is a 2.5-mile, tri-oval track with huge bankings (31-degree turns, 18-degree tri-oval banking). The frontstrech measures 3,800 feet with the backstretch coming in at 3,000 feet. Jimmie Johnson, who won both races at this track last season, is the favorite to repeat his Daytona 500 victory, but is one of six drivers with the lowest odds on the board (10-to-1).
Here is the Bet DSI breakdown on the Daytona 500:
Odds to Win Race
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||10-to-1|
|FIELD (Any other driver)||25-to-1|
|Martin Truex Jr.||35-to-1|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||40-to-1|
Drivers to WatchTony Stewart (12/1) - Stewart has yet to win a Daytona 500 race, but he has four career wins at this track, all since 2005, and he's ready to put last year's broken leg behind him and start the season on a positive note. In addition to those wins, "Smoke" has five other top-5 finishes at Daytona including a runner-up to Jimmie Johnson last July in the Coke Zero 400. The odds aren't ultra favorable, but Stewart is our pick to open the 2014 season with a victory.
Denny Hamlin (10/1) - Of all six favorites on the board this week, Hamlin appears to have the best chance to wind up victorious. He could become the first driver ever to sweep the Speedweeks, having won the Sprint Unlimited exhibition and Budweiser Duel 2 at this venue. Although Hamlin has never won a NASCAR race at Daytona, he has led for 237 laps spread out over 11 different races at this track. In addition to his 3rd-place showing back in 2009, he placed 4th in the crazy 2012 Daytona 500 won by Matt Kenseth.
Greg Biffle (25/1) - A strong darkhorse candidate this week is Biffle, who has come very close to winning the Daytona 500 in three of the past four years. He led for 27 laps and placed 3rd in this race in 2010, and after he crashed in 2011, Biffle placed 3rd in the 2012 Daytona 500 that he led for 44 laps, and then came in 6th place in last year's race. With seven career wins on speedways that are at least two miles long, Biffle feels comfortable in this format, and therefore is worthy of a small wager on Sunday.
David Ragan (100/1) - There aren't a lot of longshot picks on the board for Sunday, but Ragan is the best of the lot, having won at this track at the 2011 Coke Zero 400. Although he hasn't placed in the top-20 in four races since that victory, Ragan does have three other top-6 showings in his 14 starts in Daytona. His other NASCAR victory came on the other superspeedway on the circuit (last May at Talladega), showing that Ragan is perfectly capable of racing with the leaders on the big track. With triple-digit odds, he could bankroll your NASCAR wagers for the entire season with a victory on Sunday.
Austin Dillon (30/1) - It's not often that you get 30-to-1 odds on a pole position driver, making Dillon an intriguing value play for this weekend. The 23-year-old has raced just 13 times in a NASCAR event with zero top-10 finishes, but he did get to race in the Daytona 500 last season (starting 8th and placing 31st after a crash), so he should have a much better feel of how this race will play out this time around. But the lack of experience here should limit your wager to no more than one unit.