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Freedman’s Favorite Daytona 500 Driver Matchups: Bet on Aric Almirola

Freedman’s Favorite Daytona 500 Driver Matchups: Bet on Aric Almirola article feature image

Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Aric Almirola

  • Matthew Freedman continues his series featuring at least one of his favorite bets for each day of 2019.
  • On Sunday, he looks at the Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX) and highlights the Aric Almirola-Chase Elliott & Ryan Preece-Daniel Hemric driver matchups.

Each day, I publish at least one quick-n’-dirty piece highlighting a favorite prop of mine. See my master list of 2019 prop bets for more information.

Also follow me in The Action Network app, where each day I post additional, official player prop picks: Today we have a six-game NHL slate to bet on.

2019 Year-to-Date Record

107-84-8, +24.64 Units

  • NFL: 21-13-0, +11.72 Units
  • NBA: 42-33-2, +5.30 Units
  • NHL: 34-33-5, +4.23 Units
  • Golf: 3-3-1, +0.50 Units
  • NASCAR: 2-1-0. +1.25 Units
  • NCAAF: 0-1-0. -1.00 Units
  • Exotics: 5-0-0. +2.64 Units

Freedman’s Favorite Daytona 500 Driver Matchups

The NASCAR regular season shifts into gear today with the Daytona 500 (Feb. 17, 2:30 p.m. ET, FOX).

I like NASCAR, but I admit that my knowledge is limited. Almost all I know about motor sports I’ve learned from Nick Giffen, who has published a couple fantastic RotoViz articles for the Great American Race.

Nick writes primarily from a daily fantasy perspective, but his analysis is easily applicable to sports betting.

Using Nick’s projections and the data available in the RotoViz NASCAR Splits App, I’ve found several driver matchups I like for the Daytona 500.

I’ll break down two in this article.

One note: This restrictor-plate race is rife with chaos. Since 2005, it has a 32.5% incident rate; 35% since 2013, when NASCAR introduced the Generation 6 car. And the randomness at Daytona tends to impact all drivers almost equally, regardless of skill level.

As a result, I’m focusing on underdogs. My thinking is that since a large portion of the field is likely to be rendered noncompetitive in an indiscriminate way, and since the restrictor plates minimize the technological edge that the more monied teams tend to have, then I might as well back the dogs available at plus money when they look investable.

Aric Almirola vs. Chase Elliott

  • Aric Almirola: +105
  • Chase Elliott: -125

Elliott has the better long-term numbers at restrictor plate races, with the edge in driver rating (79.1 vs. 75.7) and running position (16.2 vs. 19.0).

But Almirola has consistently displayed the ability to move forward and avoid crashing out. On average, Almirola has started at 22.7 and finished at 16.3, whereas Elliott has started at 4.8 but finished at 22.4.

Almirola was in the running to win last year’s Daytona 500, and he has five top-15 finishes at the race over the past six years. And he’s with the dominant plate-race manufacturer in Ford while Elliott is with Chevy.

Plus, Almirola has a big edge in starting position (8 vs. 18).

Almirola has a 9.48 projected finishing position at RotoViz; Elliott, 9.83.

They are close, but Almirola has the edge, and I’d bet him down to +100.

The Pick: Almirola +105

Ryan Preece vs. Daniel Hemric

  • Ryan Preece: +130
  • Daniel Hemric: -150

Preece has just five Cup Series races in his NASCAR career, none of which were at restrictor-plate tracks. And even though he’s 28 years old, he has just two Xfinity Series wins to his name.

But it’s not as if Hemric is a driver to be feared. Also 28 years old, he has just two Cup Series races and no Xfinity Series wins on his résumé.

Hemric has the higher odds to win the race (+6000 vs. +8000), and he’s probably with the better team (Richard Childress Racing vs. JTG Daugherty Racing), but he’s not clearly better than Preece.

And Preece has a small edge in starting position (21 vs. 29).

Preece has a 19.07 projected finishing position, while Hemric has a 19.29.

This looks like a coin flip, so I’ll gladly take the plus odds all the way down to +105.

The Pick: Preece +130

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

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