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Freedman: Daytona 500 Underdogs to Bet BEFORE the Duels Races

Freedman: Daytona 500 Underdogs to Bet BEFORE the Duels Races article feature image

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ryan Blaney

  • The Daytona 500 is on Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX).
  • The qualifying races for the event are on Thursday night, but sharp bettors have the opportunity to invest in plus-money underdogs before the starting order is set.

The Daytona 500 is on Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX), and sportsbooks have already posted many head-to-head driver matchups for the race.

While most bettors will wait till closer to the event to invest in these props, I think there’s an edge for people who place some bets early in the week.

On Thursday, there are two qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway.

  • Duel No. 1 – 7:00 p.m. ET, FS1
  • Duel No. 2 – 9:00 p.m. ET, FS1

The results of these races will determine the starting order for the Daytona 500.

After Thursday, once the starting order is set, the odds for some driver matchups currently on the market could be significantly different, so I’m looking to invest now before the odds change.

Here’s my general strategy: Before the Duels, I want to invest in almost all the driver matchups with plus odds.

Daytona 500 Is Random

Here’s my thinking: The Daytona 500 is a restrictor plate race, so it is very random. It’s not uncommon for half the field to lose at least a couple of laps because of incidents.

For instance, last year’s race went 207 laps. Only 15 of the 40 drivers hit the 206 threshold. And 15 drivers failed to rack up even 200 laps.

And skill has almost no bearing on whether a driver suffers an in-race incident when plate racing: It’s almost entirely random.

So in a race in which about half the field is likely to experience an incident that renders it noncompetitive, I want to have exposure to as many drivers as possible with positive odds.

Daytona 500 Is Kind to Backmarker Drivers

At typical races where the speed of the vehicles isn’t regulated, it’s almost impossible for backmarkers to compete because of their inferior cars.

But the Daytona 500 is different. Because of the restrictor plates that are placed on each car, the technological edge that the more monied teams have is minimized. As a result, drivers with subpar equipment can actually hang with the pack.

So underdogs can actually hang with stronger drivers at Daytona, which means that at a race this random there could be a real edge to investing in dogs at plus money.

Arbitrage Daytona 500 Driver Matchups?

Finally, if we invest in underdogs at plus odds before the starting order is set, there’s the possibility that when the sportsbooks re-release driver matchups after the  Duels, some of the drivers that were previously favored could be underdogs — maybe even plus-money dogs.

And if that happens, then we could take a position on the dogs and lock in a profit regardless of whoever wins the matchup.

And because of the randomness of the race, it’s unlikely that the books will adjust the odds much further to make any of the present underdogs even bigger underdogs.

So basically I’m looking to grab plus-money dogs now with the idea that maybe I’ll be able to arbitrage later and, if not, I’m still fine riding with the dogs in a randomness-fueled event.

Daytona 500 Pre-Duels Plus-Money Underdogs

These aren’t official picks for my daily prop piece, but these are the driver matchups you might want to consider if you are looking to invest in plus-money dogs before the Duels.

+100 Daytona 500 Underdogs

  • Ryan Blaney vs. Aric Almirola (-130)
  • Ryan Blaney vs. Denny Hamlin (-130)
  • Ryan Blaney vs. Chase Elliott (-130)
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. vs. Aric Almirola (-130)
  • Martin Truex Jr. vs. Kyle Busch (-130)

+110 Daytona 500 Underdogs

  • Clint Bowyer vs. Joey Logano (-140)
  • Darrel Wallace Jr. vs. Paul Menard (-140)
  • Ryan Preece vs. Daniel Hemric (-140)
  • Kevin Harvick vs. Joey Logano (-140)

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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