Daytona 500 Betting Advice: 6 Winning Tips & Strategies for NASCAR’s Biggest Race
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Team Penske Menards/Peak Ford Mustang, leads during the Daytona 500
- The 2020 Daytona 500 will go green at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway.
- We offer six winning tips and strategies for betting on NASCAR's biggest race.
NASCAR betting is a unique animal. Due to on-track activity, like practice and qualifying, before each race sportsbooks are forced to take odds on and off the board multiple times throughout the week.
Because knowing the starting order and speeds for each driver in practice provides an advantage for bettors, oddsmakers can’t allow stale numbers to stay posted while cars are on the track.
NASCAR’s premier event, the Daytona 500, kicks off each new Cup Series season, meaning sportsbooks can post odds extremely early … and they do. With Daytona 500 odds available for months in advance, bettors have almost the entire NASCAR offseason to build their cards leading to the Great American Race.
Here are six NASCAR betting tips and strategies for betting the Daytona 500.
Daytona 500 Betting Advice, Tips and Strategies
1. Don’t Overvalue Daytona 500 Practice and Qualifying
While I think practice provides important data at many racetracks, specifically those with high tire wear, speeds don’t mean much at Daytona.
Because of the draft, speeds are largely affected by the number of drivers in each pack and whether they’re single or double file, not the speed of maneuverability of each individual car.
Don’t get suckered into betting a driver simply because he or she posted a fast practice time. That speed likely is more about hitting the draft just right on a given lap as opposed to correlating to a fast car on raceday.
Similarly, qualifying means basically nothing for the Daytona 500. While the pole winner will be congratulated for eight days between time trials and the start of the race, the accolades are mostly ceremonial.
Daytona 500 time trials are single-car laps, meaning drivers are alone on the track when setting their qualifying times. What makes a car go fast by itself compared to what will happen during the race couldn’t be more different, so putting emphasis on starting position when making your bets is not a good idea.
In fact, if odds for a driver in good equipment drop solely because of where he or she qualifies, that driver becomes a savvy value bet (more on this later).
2. Analyze the Bluegreen Vacations Duel Races
Since practice and starting position don’t really matter, bettors should instead pay close attention to the Bluegreen Vacations Duel qualifying races that take place the Thursday before the Daytona 500.
These races set the field (other than the front row which is determined by time trial speeds) for the Great American Race and show what each driver has during true race conditions.
Be sure not to solely rely on finishing position and watch the cars individually during the race.
Which cars can move through the field with ease? Did any drivers fall to the back, then get back to the front without any help? And were any cars impressive without the help of teammates?
3. Buyback Line Moves for Good Cars
Due to the unpredictability of superspeedway racing, there are very few reasons for top-tier drivers in the best equipment to fall down the odds board, but it happens.
For example, if Chase Elliott is 13-1 at the start of Speedweeks, but trickles down to 18-1 on raceday without any major issues heading into the 500, it’s worth buying back that value.
This isn’t to say it’s smart to grab every driver whose odds are falling, but do so for any of the favorites who are moving simply because other drivers are attracting action.
4. Target Unproven Drivers in Good Equipment
This is one of my favorite strategies for finding value at superspeedway races. Three of the past five NASCAR Cup Series winners at Daytona were from unproven drivers in upper-tier superspeedway equipment: Erik Jones (July 2018), Austin Dillon (Feb. 2018) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (July 2018).
In this instance, I’m referring to “unproven” as those who aren’t among the group contending for wins and top-five finishes week in and week out.
Aric Almirola fits this bill recently as well, winning the Fall Talladega race in 2018.
Finding an unproven/undervalued driver in top superspeedway equipment is the key reason I locked in Chris Buescher to win the 2020 Daytona 500 at 75-1 odds back in December.
5. Prop Bets Have Added Value
Due to the nature of pack racing, it’s very easy for wrecks to take out large portions of the field, including top cars racing at the front. As a result, we frequently see cars that typically don’t run near the top 10 end up with top-10 finishes in the Daytona 500 simply by surviving accidents.
For example, Michael McDowell (fifth), Ty Dillon (sixth), Ryan Preece (eighth) and Ross Chastain (10th) each scored top 10s in the 2019 Daytona 500 despite all closing with odds of 80-1 or worse to win the race.
So when doing your Daytona 500 handicapping, look for top-10 prices for those longshot drivers who have good histories in this race, impress in the Duel races, etc.
6. Shop for the Best Odds
Just like every other sport, price matters in NASCAR betting. But in a niche market like NASCAR where it doesn’t take much money to move lines, it’s extremely important to shop for the best odds because some sportsbooks may be heavy on certain drivers and make major odds adjustments, while other books will remain at the original prices until they attract similar action.
Going back to my Chris Buescher bet to win the 2020 Daytona 500, FanDuel Sportsbook was offering 75-1 on the Roush Fenway Racing driver, while both the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and DraftKings Sportsbook were at 40-1.
Obviously, 75-1 is a much better bet than 40-1. In fact, as I detail in the article, I would not have bet Buescher at 40-1, but 75-1 was good enough to warrant a wager.