This evening (7 p.m. ET Saturday) the NASCAR series will make its annual July trip back to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero Sugar 400. The night race at Daytona has provided plenty of thrills over the years and barring the presence of thunderstorms, we should be in for more of the same this evening.
Typically when it comes to the races held at Daytona and Talladega, we look at betting on drivers who offer value to win. This is a change from our normal operations where we usually focus on driver matchups for wagering purposes. This week we will adopt the same “restrictor plate” mentality that has been successful for us this season.
Let’s get right into the some of the data that will help guide our selections for this compelling race.
- In the last 10 July races at Daytona, the winner has come from an average starting position of 9.3.
- In the last 10 February Daytona 500 races, the winner has come from an average starting position of 14.4. The extra one hundred miles in the Daytona 500 has an impact on the allowable starting depth of previous winners.
- Ford has won the last two July races at Daytona, and 3 of the last four.
- Toyota has only one win in the last 10 July races at Daytona.
- In the last eight July races at Daytona, there have been eight different winners.
This week we will look to wager on a team of drivers who offer value at the listed odds. Often it’s a strong strategy to back more drivers at Daytona and Talladega due to the fact that so many are often eliminated over the course of the race. Let’s take a look at some of the major contenders along with some of the Daytona specific statistics that can drive success.
Brad Keselowski (6-1): Starting from the 3rd spot, Keselowski is one of the major contenders to win. The former winner has a great starting position but will have to stay clean in order to have any chance to win. He has 3 DNFs at Daytona in the last five races. At a race where so many cars are usually rendered useless due to damage, it is very difficult to support a driver at such low odds.
Joey Logano (8-1): Winning at Talladega already this year, Logano looks to be tough to beat. Starting 11th, Logano has been no stranger to success at Daytona as he has five top 6 finishes in the last seven races at the World Center of Racing.
Ryan Blaney (9-1): Leading over one hundred laps in the 2018 Daytona 500, Blaney is the first driver that offers at least some value based on his odds to win. Blaney had the best car back in February, and starting in the 12th position he is expected to be a major factor as the race comes to a close.
Chase Elliott (10-1): Starting from the pole, Elliott is looking to get his first win tonight at Daytona. With an average finish of 27th in the last 5 races at Daytona, the odds are simply too low to back him at a track that has limited his success.
Denny Hamlin (10-1): Starting in the 17th position, Hamlin appears to be the biggest challenger from the Toyota camp. Including a win, in the last 9 races at Daytona, Hamlin has an average finish of 8.5, which is the best of any active driver on the circuit. Hamlin has finished sixth or better in 6 of the last nine races at Daytona. That is really eye opening considering the limited success of Toyota at Daytona.
Kevin Harvick (10-1): With only one top 5 in the last five races, Daytona has not been one Harvick’s best tracks. While he is normally considered to be a top contender at most other tracks, statistically speaking Harvick is on the outside looking in. Starting in the 5th spot, Harvick has the positioning to be right in the mix for the win, but if he is to have any chance he will need to avoid trouble. Finishing clean has not been his strong suit as he has 3 DNFs in the last five races at Daytona.
Clint Bowyer (12-1): Starting in the 9th position, Bowyer was very fast in the single practice session that was held in preparation for this race. While Daytona has not typically been one of Bowyer’s best tracks he has now accumulated five top-10 finishes. Driving a Ford, Bowyer should have all the mechanical tools needed in order to get his first win at Daytona.
Kurt Busch (12-1): Starting in the 23rd spot, this former Daytona 500 winner will have a lot to do if he is going to be in the mix for the win. At odds of 12-1 it’s hard to back Busch when considering the some of the other contenders that are starting around him at virtually the same odds.
Kyle Busch (12-1): Last week’s winner at Chicago will be going for two wins in a row tonight at Daytona. This has not been one of his better tracks and finding someone to help push him to victory could be a daunting task as the younger Busch is not a garage favorite. Further he could be hampered from a manufacture perspective as well.
Ricky Stenhouse (12-1): This Daytona specialist has struggled almost the entire season, but looks to secure a playoff spot by getting a win tonight. This is without question Stenhouse’s best chance to end up in Victory Lane for the remainder of the regular season. Starting in the 6th position puts Stenhouse in a prime spot to stamp his ticket to the playoffs. Odds of 12-1 are right on the edge of value.
Aric Almirola (15-1): Starting in the 26th position, Almirola looks to get his revenge at Daytona. After finishing 2nd in the Daytona 500 this year, there is no doubt that Almirola has exceeded expectations this season. He is starting deeper than an what is considered optimal, due to the fact that an early wreck could incorporate him as he will likely be stuck in mid-pack traffic. If he can stay clean, especially early, there is no reason to believe this former Daytona winner will not be a major contender.
Kyle Larson (20-1): The winner of last night’s thrilling Xfinity race, Larson looks to sweep the weekend. Starting in the 14th position he might be the best chance that a Chevy has to win the race. There is no doubt that Larson can “wheel” his car anywhere on the track and has the guts to make some of the most dramatic moves seen in any type of racing. However, sometimes his fearless actions get him an early trip to the showers. Larson should be considered a dark horse play to win and at even higher odds he provides solid value.
Jimmie Johnson (25-1): Starting in the fourth spot, Johnson could be amongst the Chevy dark horses tonight as he still looks to get his first win of the season. With an average finish of 27th to go along with three DNF’s in the last five races at Daytona, Johnson will need to summon all of his championship ability to overcome a possible manufacture handicap to end up in Victory Lane.
Paul Menard (30-1): His odds have been seen as high as 50-1 which offers solid value. At odds of anything less, Menard is a hard sell even when considering his recent success at Daytona. Menard has three straight top-6 finishes at Daytona, and looks to take the former Daytona winning Wood Bros. car back to Victory Lane. Again, this is a situation where playoff qualifying desperation meets a driver’s best best track.
Ryan Newman (50-1): This former Daytona 500 winner will be starting in the 7th position tonight as he tries to secure a playoff spot. Newman has what it takes to win and a high level of desperation to accompany his skill set. Newman is at value when considering his long odds.
Due to the number of instances where drivers are eliminated from contention, we will take a very conservative approach to matchups this weekend.
Aric Almirola (-105) over Kurt Busch (-115)
Almirola has been a consistent finisher while not have any DNFs in the last five races at Daytona. The runner up in the 2018 Daytona 500 has a quiet chip on his shoulder this weekend. Additionally, when considering last week’s disappointment on pit road there is ample reason to support Almirola.
Good luck and enjoy what should be a fantastic race!