Daytona 500 Expert Picks: Giffen’s NASCAR Best Bets

Daytona 500 Expert Picks: Giffen’s NASCAR Best Bets article feature image

Sean Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Erik Jones

Rain has postponed the 66th running of the Daytona 500 to Monday, which gives us more time to make some bets!

There are still a few bets out there that I find worthy of placing if you have yet to bet this race or if you are looking to add to your Daytona 500 card.

I'll use my statistical model, as well as some industry knowledge to help us find the remaining value out there because the market is pretty saturated at this point.

Let's dive in to my NASCAR best bets.

Daytona 500 Expert Picks

Under 8.5 Cautions (+100 at SuperBook)

Under their "Race Props" section, SuperBook is hanging an over/under number for the number of cautions in this Daytona 500 at 8.5 yellow flags.

I like the under here for a few reasons.

First, since NASCAR moved away from restrictor plates to the tapered spacer after the 2019 Daytona 500, only one of the four 500s has had more than 8.5 cautions. That was in 2020 when weather impacted the event, forcing a yellow-flag period simply due to weather. Without that rain caution, the 2020 Daytona 500 would also have ended up staying under, landing at exactly eight.

Second, the Next Gen car has really made the Daytona 500 a track position race, so the amount of big runs we're seeing has been somewhat reduced, making the need to throw a late block a little less necessary. The last two years have had seven and eight cautions, respectively, with two of the 2022 cautions coming from loose wheels on the track, which was an issue back then but much less so now.

Finally, this is admittedly a bit of a selfish hedge. If you're playing the DraftKings Millionaire maker, you probably read that my strategy is centered around the chaos that happens at these superspeedway events.

More cautions is probably better for my fantasy prospects, but by betting the under, I can hedge a little bit while still making a plus-EV bet as well as still having a chance to win a million bucks even if we stay under 8.5 cautions. What more could you ask for?!

Anthony Alfredo over Riley Herbst +140 (Caesars)

This is pretty straightforward. Whenever two drivers are so close to each other on the odds board, yet one is priced at significant plus-money in a matchup against the other, we have to take it.

Alfredo and Herbst come in 36th and 39th in my model's odds to win, and when I ran my 25,000 simulations, Alfredo finished ahead of Herbst 45.9% of the time. That would make around +120 as fair value, so I'll gladly take Alfredo at a number longer than that.

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Erik Jones for Top Toyota +900 (Caesars)

If you listened to the Running Hot podcast with my co-host Stephen Young of RotoGrinders and myself, you'll remember that my Turn 3 pick was Jones to finish as the top Toyota driver at +800.

That pick was made prior to the Duel qualifying races, and nothing has changed my mind. Jones pushed his way forward quickly in his Duel, pushing defending Daytona 500 champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the bottom lane to the lead at various points in the first two-thirds of that race prior to pit stops.

There's no reason Jones should have gotten longer after the Duels, so +900 is still fantastic value. My model has this closer to +700.

Hendrick Motorsports Winning Team (+450 at ESPN BET & Caesars)

Hendrick Motorsports looked exceptionally strong in their Duel races, with Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman all having a shot to win the first Duel. However, the teammates didn't play so friendly and ended up costing each other a shot at the win after Tyler Reddick took advantage to draft by the trio.

Meanwhile, William Byron — who raced in the other Duel — has won three of the last 18 drafting races.

This is an elite group of drivers in elite equipment. My model gives this quartet a 19.3% chance of winning, making around +420 as fair value. So while +450 is a bit thin, if you're still looking to make a bet, this is one you can add to your card at positive expected value per my numbers.

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