Walsh: 2019 Daytona 500 Offering My Favorite Longshot Bet Ever
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Alex Bowman (88) leads the field
- The 2019 Daytona 500 is offering one of the best longshot bets in recent memory.
- By analyzing past performance and current equipment, we reveal which deep sleeper is capable of stealing the checkered flag.
Everybody likes a longshot. It’s why casual bettors love throwing a couple of bucks on huge underdogs and continue to play parlays, even though it’s commonly known that parlays are generally bad over the long haul.
When it comes to betting on NASCAR, longshots are typically bad bets as well. In 2018, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. combined to win 21 of the 37 races (including the All-Star Race).
These three are all past Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) champions, and were certainly among the favorites in each of those 21 races. In fact, when you look at the list of last season’s winners, Austin Dillon, who won the 2018 Daytona 500 at 50-1, was truly the only longshot winner of the year.
Dillon finished the season with just two top-five finishes (including the Daytona 500) and led only 23 total laps. No matter how you slice it, he was a longshot to wind up in Victory Lane.
For those not familiar with the MENCS, teams run restrictor plates at both Daytona and Talladega .
Restrictor plates limit horsepower which results in cars running in large packs. Because engines aren’t generating enough power to drive away from other cars, the fastest way around the track is drafting in large groups. And in NASCAR, big packs cause plenty of wrecks, often taking out large portions of the field.
Drivers who may not have enough speed to beat the top teams in most races find themselves contending for top 10s, top 5s and even wins if they simply avoid the wrecks at restrictor plate racetracks.
This leads to more longshots having the ability to steal race wins, evidenced by Dillon’s shocking Daytona 500 win.
The problem, from a betting perspective, is that picking which longshots will get lucky enough to avoid wrecks is a crapshoot. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why some will navigate through with near-misses — it’s just luck.
But this doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t bet longshots at all. In fact, there is currently a deep sleeper who is not only my favorite longshot bet of the 2019 Daytona 500, but he’s arguably my favorite longshot bet ever.
Michael McDowell to Win Daytona 500 (200-1)
A driver at 200-1 is one whopper of a price. McDowell isn’t even listed at many sportsbooks, and is instead lumped into the “Field” option.
But McDowell isn’t your everyday 200-1 longshot.
According to loop data from FantasyRacingCheatSheet.com, McDowell has performed extremely well at Daytona over the past two seasons (four total races).
Only Alex Bowman (8.0) and Ryan Blaney (13.8) had better average running positions than McDowell (14.0) over that sample of races, indicating that this longshot has found a way to linger around the front of the field at Daytona.
In addition, just four drivers (A.J. Allmendinger, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., Ryan Newman and Paul Menard) who started more than one race at Daytona over that span have posted better average finishes than McDowell’s 13.5.
But remember, as I mentioned above, getting “lucky” and surviving wrecks can lead to good finishes, which is often misleading. This clip from the 2018 Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona, however, is why I’m so giddy about McDowell’s chances.
Note: Fast forward to the 2:10:00 mark (lap 89) if video doesn’t start there automatically.
As you can see, McDowell was able to race his way to the lead en route to 20 laps led before crashing out. While 20 laps may not seem like a lot, the entire race is just 160 laps and only Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (51 laps led) was out front for longer than McDowell.
Sure, any driver can find his way toward the front of the field at Daytona through the draft and sheer luck, but can he then make something of it and get to the lead? McDowell proved last year that he can.
And for those who didn’t watch the video or pay close attention, broadcaster Jeff Burton offers another piece of valuable information that backs McDowell.
McDowell currently drives the #34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports. As Burton mentions during the clip, through a technical alliance McDowell’s Daytona cars are built and prepared by Roush Fenway Racing.
Roush Fenway provides fantastic equipment at restrictor plate racetracks, led by Stenhouse Jr.
Ricky not only led the most laps at the 2018 Coke Zero Sugar 400 (as mentioned above), but he’s had plenty of success over the past few years at restrictor plate tracks, winning the same race in 2017 and the Geico 500 at Talladega the same year.
And if your’re still not fully convinced to take a shot with McDowell, Front Row Motorsports named Drew Blickensderfer as McDowell’s new crew chief on Wednesday. Along with being a fun name to say out loud, Blickensderfer is both adept and experienced at setting up restrictor plate racecars.
Drew won the 2009 Daytona 500 while calling the shots for Matt Kenseth, then led David Ragan to a victory at Daytona in the 2011 Coke Zero 500.
And in 2018, Blickensderfer guided Bubba Wallace, also in subpar equipment like McDowell, to a second-place finish in the 500.
McDowell has the equipment and team that can get him up front at Daytona, and has proven he can stay near the lead and can even grab it if the situation presents itself. At a price of 200-1, this bet provides almost no risk for an incredibly high reward.
A handful of shops, including the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, have McDowell available at 200-1. I have seen him as high as 220-1, so be sure to shop for the best number.
Am I calling my shot and saying McDowell will win? Absolutely not. But at these odds, everyone betting the 2019 Daytona 500 should have a couple of bucks on him in case McDowell does pull off the miracle.