NASCAR Cup Series Odds, Picks, Predictions: Giffen’s Must-Bet 50-1 Long Shot to Win Daytona
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Aric Almirola
NASCAR Cup Series cars hit the track at the L.A. Coliseum later this week as the 2023 season kicks off with the Busch Light Clash.
However, I’m looking ahead to the race two weeks later – the Daytona 500.
Last week I made my first NASCAR bet of the 2023 season. Since then, FanDuel Sportsbook released odds for the Daytona 500, giving us more lines available to choose from.
That’s where I’m looking when adding to my Daytona 500 betting card.
Daytona 500 Pick
One thing I like to do when looking at betting odds at superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega) is to look at a driver’s laps led.
While it’s not a perfect metric because of varying agendas like riding around in the back, laps led is still a pretty solid proxy for win probability in a lot of cases.
If we think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Daytona and Talladega are two tracks with a high degree of randomness. Even the best statistical models can only predict the finishing order to about 15% accuracy.
Randomness is the key here. If we take all the laps at these two tracks and randomly pull laps and pretend that’s the finishing order, the lap led percent would be the probability the driver wins.
That’s not how things work in reality, but it does show why laps led at superspeedways is a good proxy for win probability. So if we find a large discrepancy between drivers’ winning odds and their laps led, it certainly merits investigation.
Well, Aric Almirola presents the largest discrepancy among all drivers if we look at laps-led data since the Cup Series moved away from restrictor plates after the 2019 Daytona 500.
Looking just at races where a driver has raced for his current team (or, for drivers joining a new team, I’ve taken their most recent team) at Daytona and Talladega races from spring 2019 Talladega race until present, we see Almirola comes in 13th in percentage of laps led. If we just look at laps where the driver participated (to adjust for DNFs), Almirola moves up a spot to 12th.
Importantly, those percentages, when scaled to 100%, show Almirola’s laps led as a fraction of the whole field is about 3.4%. If we equate that to betting odds, that would be about 29-1.
This makes sense for Almirola. Almirola’s won twice at either Daytona or Talladega in 48 career starts at the two superspeedways, which would equate to 23-1 as fair value. He also narrowly missed out on winning the 2018 Daytona 500, where Austin Dillon spun Almirola on the back stretch of the last lap while Almirola was leading.
Sure, Almriola had his worst season statistically for Stewart-Haas Racing last year, but that doesn’t really matter at the superspeedways. In fact, Almirola finished fifth at the Daytona 500 and led the most laps at Talladega in the playoff race.
With SHR, Almirola has led at least 2.6% of all the superspeedway laps he’s run each year from 2019 to 2022, which would equate to +3750. And the only year he didn’t come in above that number at SHR, in 2018, he nearly won the Daytona 500 and he won at Talladega.
This number at FanDuel is just far too long for a guy who gets upfront year in and year out at superspeedways.
Pick: Almirola (+5000) to Win Daytona 500 | Bet to +3500
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