NASCAR’s Cup Series racing is the only sport that begins the new season with its biggest event. The Daytona 500 from famed Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach kicks off a racing schedule that runs all the way to late November with the championship race at another Florida track; Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Betting on the Daytona 500 is not all that different than betting on any Cup Series event. However, there is still something special in the air when the green flag finally waves at Daytona that third Sunday in February. Racing careers are made with just one victory in this race, so the competitive nature of this event gets dialed up quite a bit.
Picking an outright winner in the Daytona 500 can be a very tall task. Not only is this the first point-race event of the season which heavily discounts current form, this is a restrictor plate track which tends to keep things wide open right up until the checkered flag waves. The betting odds tend to be longer for even the favorites, so at best you are making an educated guess.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to betting on an outright winner, the last time a driver won back-to-back Daytona 500’s was Sterling Martin in 1995. NASCAR great Jimmie Johnson has only won this race twice in his storied career and recent Cup Series Champions, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski have never won this race.
A great way to squeeze some extra value out of the betting odds for the Great American Race is to wager on a top-three finish. While the payback on a winning ticket will not be as great, you dramatically expand your chances to cash in when betting on a few of the top drivers to work their way into the top three spots at Daytona.
The best way to bet on this race is on the odds posted for any number of head-to-head matchups. Most offshore sportsbooks taking action online for the Daytona 500 will have a wide array of betting options pitting one driver against the other. The best thing about these types of bets is that your driver only needs to finish ahead of the other driver they are matched up against. If you bet on Johnson against Kevin Harvick, the No. 48 Chevrolet can finish second to last and still cash in, as long as the No. 4 Ford finishes last.
Some general betting tips to keep in mind for any NASCAR Cup Series event starts with the simple notion that winners win. Going back to last season’s results for the full 36-race schedule, the top 10 drivers in the final point standings had won 29 of those races. Truex led the way with eight checkered flags on his way to his first career racing title as part of a group of eight drivers that had multiple victories on the year.
Another betting tip is banking on past success at that week’s venue. Current racing form is an extremely important handicapping tool in any motor sports event, but the proven ability to win at a certain track in the past, automatically adds value to the equation when it comes to winning there again. Dale Earnhardt Jr. never won a racing title during his long and storied career, but he was always among the favorites to win the Daytona 500 given his past success at Daytona International.
Dale Jr. retired from Cup Series racing at the end of last season, so that task has been turned over to Alex Bowman as the new wheel man of the No. 88 Chevrolet.