Walsh: The Daytona 500 Bet to Make Right Now

Walsh: The Daytona 500 Bet to Make Right Now article feature image

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (78) and NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney (12) lead the field

  • Sportsbooks across the betting market have opened odds for NASCAR's 2019 Daytona 500.
  • With odds varying greatly from sportsbook to sportsbook, one driver is offering too much value to pass up betting right now.

NASCAR isn't the most popular sport for bettors, especially early in January when the NFL playoffs are rolling strong and the Daytona 500 is still more than one month away.

But that doesn't mean bettors should be ignoring the Great American Race. While those who do wager on the Daytona 500 likely won't do so until raceday, sportsbooks across the market are already offering odds for NASCAR's season-opening race.

And with early openers comes betting value, especially in niche markets like motorsports.

With Daytona 500 odds now widely available, I've jumped on one driver who should be an immediate autobet for anyone getting down on this race.

Ryan Blaney to Win Daytona 500 (20-1)

This is the bet to make right now. In my mind, Blaney should be listed among the favorites, so a price of 20-1 is a must for any motorsports bettor.

Blaney dominated the Daytona 500 last year, posting the best average running position (4.0) of all drivers while leading 118 of 200 laps, according to loop data from FantasyRacingCheatSheet.com. Average running position measures where a specific driver runs, on average, throughout the course of an entire race.

But it's not just last year's 500 in which the driver of the #12 Penske Ford showed speed.

Over the last two years (which is four total races), Blaney sports the best overall driver rating at Daytona International Speedway.

Driver rating is a statistic that encapsulates a driver's performance over the course of an entire race, or multiple races depending on the sample of events analyzed.

By weighing wins, finishing position, average running position, green flag speed, fastest laps run and laps led, driver rating helps in comparing drivers' true performance, as opposed to simply relying on finishing position, which can be very random, especially at a restrictor plate race like the Daytona 500.

In addition to Blaney's individual performance, Team Penske has consistently provided the best equipment at restrictor plate races for the past few seasons.

Since 2015, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) has run 16 restrictor plate races at Daytona and Talladega. Blaney's Penkse teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have combined to win seven of those.

And I know what you're thinking: If Penske had such great cars, why hasn't Blaney won?

Last season was his first running the MENCS with Penske and as I mentioned above, he showed plenty of speed in his Daytona 500 debut with the team.

In terms of line value, the differences across the Daytona 500 betting market are quite interesting. Blaney is 12-1 at Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, which is right where he should be.

The consensus among offshores is 15-1, but BookMaker.eu is hanging 20-1, which is simply too good to pass up.

For the multitude of reasons above, including recent performance, equipment and line value, Ryan Blaney at 20-1 is my first bet for the 2019 Daytona 500.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter as I continue to build my Daytona 500 betting card.

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