Sunday, the 62nd running of the ‘Great American Race’ the Daytona 500 will begin a new season. The 2020 Daytona 500 is setting up to be one of the best races and most wide open. It will also mark a new era for Nascar and many drivers. As we sit down for Sunday’s race there are many stories to watch and many drivers to take a chance on.
Make no mistake about it, betting for a Nascar race is difficult as stated in the first edition. But if you took the advice of the column and put down some money on Erik Jones to win the Clash then you made some cash last Sunday. This week we will try to help you once again make some bank on the most famous stock car race in the world.
Hands Down Favorites
Many drivers have been successful at Daytona but only seven drivers in the 40 car field have won the Daytona 500. Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson are the only drivers to have won the event twice. This makes picking a ‘favorite’ hard to find but we have some ideas. All odds are from the William Hill Sport Book and are subject to change.
Joey Logano and Hamlin are the projected favorites. Both are previous winners on this race and both sit at +1000 on the board. Hamlin is the defending winner of this race and also won it back in 2016. Logano is the 2015 winner of the race and will start P3 after winning his Duel race on Thursday night.
Other drivers at the same +1000 include Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex, Jr and the 2019 series champion Kyle Busch as well as Chase Elliott. Each of those three drivers have some work to do come race time because none of them are in the top 10 to start and Truex, Jr is the only driver in the top 15.
Longer favorites include guys like Kevin Harvick(+1200) and Brad Keselowski(+1100) who both drive Fords and have shown speed this week in Daytona. Harvick and Keselowski will start side by side in row 5. Ryan Blaney will join his Team Penske teammates as favorites for the 2020 Daytona 500 at +1300.
Middle of the Road
Alex Bowman has had great Speedweeks each year since taking over the #88, his luck just hasn’t been great come Sunday. This makes the oddsmakers nervous in giving him some love. Bowman is at +2000 but starts on the outside pole. This makes Bowman a solid pick to put something down on considering the power under the hood.
Pole sitter Ricky Stenhouse, Jr will also be +2000 just like his front row mate. There have only been nine drivers to win the Daytona 500 from the pole. The last to do it was Dale Jarrett in 2000. In a race that is high speed checkers makes it hard to win from the top spot.
Jimmie Johnson falls into this group as the seven-time champion enters his final Daytona 500 as a full time driver at +2200. Johnson pushed his team car to the Duel win on Thursday night and will start P6. He will be looking for win number three in the race. Another steal of a pick could be Matt DiBenedetto, who led the most laps last year and with the Wood Brothers this season, as he is a +2000 pick.
Middle of the Road Favorites
Some of the favorite picks in this group might just be William Byron, Aric Almirola and Erik Jones. Byron(+2200) won his Duel race and sits right behind teammate Alex Bowman and ahead of Jimmie Johnson when the green drops Sunday. It might just be the perfect storm for the Hendrick drivers to be starting in line on the outside when the flag drops.
Almirola(+2500) has been the fastest of the four Stewart Haas Racing cars in Daytona. He may not have the best odds by Vegas but he has shown his stance on the track. He starts 5th and was one corner away from winning the 2018 version of the Daytona 500.
Jones(+3000) won the Busch Clash last Sunday and is having a solid Speedweeks in Daytona. He will start the race from the 14th position. Jones has shown already that he can contend no matter the number of cars on the track.
Rookie Chances in the 2020 Daytona 500
The outstanding rookie class may not have shown out during qualifying but once on the track in race atmosphere they have made strides and represent well in the Daytona 500. Cole Custer(+4000)made a strong showing in the Duel and will roll off 12th. He was fast and turned heads by many drivers during the race.
Christopher Bell will start his first Daytona 500 in the 17th spot and will be a +5000 pick to win the race. Tyler Reddick had a strong early showing in the Duel but faded and will start 22nd on Sunday. Reddick is at +3000 on the board.
There are a handful of good cars in the outside shot at winning the sports biggest event. Former winners of this race have a good shot at making some real cash if you want to take a chance. Austin Dillon(+4000) is the 2018 winner of this event and hopes to take the number three car back to victory lane for Richard Childress Racing. Also, the 2008 winner of the Daytona 500 Ryan Newman is a solid steal. He is +3500 and finished in 2nd place at the last Super Speedway event in Talladega last October.
The runner-up from the 2018 race was Bubba Wallace. Wallace was the story for weeks after the event and made many national headlines. He has a great starting spot for the King, Richard Petty, and the famed 43 car as they will roll off 11th. The Petty driver is another with an outside shot at winning this thing with odds at +4000, Wallace might be the pick of the day.
Long Shots to Watch
These guys may not have the slightest chance but no one expected Jordan Anderson Friday night in the trucks or Timmy Hill Saturday in the Xfinity Series be fighting for a win so you never know. The 2020 Daytona 500 has a serious shot at making a Cinderella story come true.
The first one that comes to mind is a guy with an actual chance when the checkered flag flies to be the first guy to see it, Ross Chastain. ‘The Watermelon Man’ as he is well known has backing from Chip Ganassi and starts mid-pack at 20th. Chastain is having a rough speedweeks. After not making the Xfinity Series show in his number 10 machine and having to drive RSS Racing car for the points to count, he is hoping for luck on his side Sunday. The Florida native is +7500 to win the event and has an actual shot at getting it done.
Retired then un-retired driver David Ragan is another guy who is outstanding on super speedways and should be one to watch. Ragan retired at the end of last season but is in a one off race with Rick Ware racing and is +10000 to win the event. He is always near the front here and has won on the famed track once in his career.
The last two long shot drivers are former teammates. Brenden Gaughan and Ty Dillon. Gaughan starts his final Daytona 500 from the 39th position. He made his way into the field on speed which means he has a shot. Many remember Gaughan’s spectacular crash last season at Talladega but forget that at the time he was in the top 5. He will run these races near the front and have a chance at the end. Gaughan is +10000 to win. Dillon, just like his brother, is very good on the super speedways. He will take the green from the 24th starting spot and has shown speed and success here before. He is +5000 to win the biggest event and could be the long shot to get it done.
Who to Pick?
Obviously, it’s pretty easy to say that Logano or Hamlin could go to victory lane and they won’t be bad picks. Neither are picks like a Byron or Bowman. Each pick will make something should they come true.
In a race like this it is nearly impossible to make the choice because everything is so unpredictable and so new. Look for a guy like Kyle Busch who hasn’t won a Daytona 500 yet in his remarkable career to give it a big go this time around. He will have to climb his way from the back to get it done.
Look to someone like a Johnson or a feel good like Stenhouse, Jr to get the job done on Sunday. So many drivers have a shot at this race and it can be difficult to base it solely on the Duels or qualifying, they all have to be in affect.
The Pick for the 2020 Daytona 500 is…
Finally, it’s time for the pick.
The favorite pick to win certainly should be Kyle Busch. He has never won the Daytona 500 and is sitting deep in the field but with +1000 odds and winning the Cup Series championship last season, the Las Vegas native could find his way to victory lane. It could also be someone like a Brad Keselowski who has yet to get it done and at +1100 has a good shot. Or even someone who has been to victory lane in Daytona like Hamlin(+1000) and Logano(+1000) or even Johnson(+2200) all could get it done.
Last week, we got it right with Erik Jones. He was a middle of the road type guy. This week the overall pick is also going to come from the middle of the road. Daytona is a special place and has some weird magic. It gave the great Dale Earnhardt so much success in all forms of racing in every event. He just never could get the 500 until 1998. It knew that day was bound to be special. Daytona gave drivers like Michael Waltrip, after 462 starts, his first Cup Series victory and Trevor Bayne, after only his second career start, his first victory.
Daytona is special and it has magic. On Sunday, the magic continues when young William Byron takes the 24 back to victory lane at Daytona. Byron won his qualifying race and has been super fast all week long. William Byron at +2200 takes the win and is the pick to win the 2020 Daytona 500 and wins you a little extra cash on Sunday afternoon.
The 2020 Daytona 500 goes green at 2:30pm EST on FOX and MRN.