NASCAR Odds, Picks, Predictions: The Favorite to Bet for Sunday’s Daytona 500
James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney
The sports world moves from one main event to the next as all eyes shift from the Super Bowl to the Daytona 500.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know I’ve already made a trio of Daytona 500 bets.
First was a 40-1 longshot. Then, when FanDuel released lines a week later, I fired on a 50-1 longshot. Finally, I tracked a 200-1 play in the Action App.
But now it’s time to turn my attention to the favorites.
There’s one driver who stands head and shoulders above the field for me this week, and I still like his odds even though they’ve moved slightly since I bet and tracked the pick on Thursday.
Daytona 500 Best Bet
Ryan Blaney is always a force to be reckoned with at Daytona and Talladega.
At the two superspeedways since the series moved away from restrictor plates after the 2019 Daytona 500, Blaney has finished on the lead lap 11 times in 15 races. In those 11 finishes, his average finish is 6.1. That includes three wins and two runner-up finishes.
He’s led a total of 8.4% of all superspeedway laps in those 15 races. Since superspeedway racing is quite random, I like to do a little exercise in which we shuffle up all the laps and randomly draw a lap and pretend that’s the finishing order. It’s not perfect, but it gives us a strong idea of whether a driver is in the ballpark for his odds. That means the 8.4% lap-led rate would be Blaney’s win rate, which translates to +1085 as fair value.
But there’s more. He’s actually gotten even better. Last year he paced the field in laps led at superspeedways, leading 90 of the 737 laps run at Daytona and Talladega. That 12.2% rate equates to +720 as fair value, which gives us quite a bit of room up to his current odds of +1200.
As a math guy myself, I love not only when the math works out, as it does here, but also when the narrative makes sense.
Blaney was incredibly unlucky not to win in 2022. He came close to the win at last year’s Daytona 500, falling short only because teammate Austin Cindric threw a late block and Blaney played nice.
Blaney also had the best car at the final race of the year in Phoenix. Once again, he played nice as he was clearly wingman to teammate Joey Logano. Blaney could have passed Logano for the race win, but he smartly stayed in line in second place behind Logano to help hold off a hard-charging Ross Chastain, who was catching Logano over the closing laps.
It certainly seems like Blaney is “owed” some favors in return by his teammates. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an unspoken rule at Team Penske to help Blaney get the win at all costs, or at minimum play nice.
I rarely fire on favorites at superspeedways. However, when the math and the narrative line up, count me in.
Blaney is no longer available at +1300 like he was when I bet him at FanDuel on Thursday. However, you can still grab him there at +1200, along with several other shops. I can still get behind a bet on him at that price, but wouldn’t go lower.
Pick: Ryan Blaney to Win Daytona 500 (+1200) | Bet to: +1200
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