NASCAR’s David Ragan on Winning Bettor a $1 Million Parlay: I Almost Lost It for Him (EXCLUSIVE)
Picture by Getty Images. Pictured: David Ragan.
On Sunday, a FanDuel bettor hit one of the most insane parlays of all time.
If you haven’t seen it before, here it is: A $13.49 free bet won $999,433.63. Almost a million dollars. A more than 74,000% return.
The Action Network’s own Nick Giffen and co-host Jordan McAbee discussed this on their NASCAR betting and DFS podcast “Stacking Dennys.”
Just how unlikely was this Coke Zero Sugar 400 parlay?
“Per my model with four backmarker drivers of this strength, we’d expect this event to occur once in about 10,000 superspeedway races (making the 74,000-1 odds this bettor got already a +EV bet),” Giffen said.
Landon Cassill, who finished a career best fourth, had finished in the top-10 twice in his 334 previous Cup starts.
Cody Ware, who finished sixth, had never finished in the top FIFTEEN in his 81 previous Cup starts.
B.J. McLeod, who had a career-best finish of seventh, had only finished in the top-10 once — last year’s Daytona — in his 105 Cup starts.
David Ragan, who finished ninth, was actually the most likely to finish in the top 10.
He’s had 43 top-10 finishes in 476 Cup starts and has won twice, including winning this exact race in 2011.
Hearing that the winning bettor was not going to make himself available for comment, we scored the final leg of the parlay, David Ragan, to talk to us about the race and about the bettor’s hit of a lifetime.
David Ragan: I Almost Lost it For Him
I saw the parlay when I got on the plane after the race. Some friends had sent it to me and I said right away, “That has to be fake.”
But then he pointed out that the sportsbook itself was tweeting it out. Just wild. That guy had to be having a heart attack.
So, for casual viewers of NASCAR, it’s true that Daytona and Talladega specifically do have the potential for more random outcomes because we travel in really big packs, we’re using the draft from the banking of the track and we’re going faster than other tracks.
Last weekend, we were going top speeds of 205 miles per hour and a minimum of 195. Whereas this week at Darlington, guys will be going 180 and slowing down on turns to 115 or 120 miles per hour.
Daytona is a wide open race track and we basically don’t use the breaks. Fans and the TV partners love it because there’s 30 cars on one stretch.
Aside from that, there are other reasons why you might see the smaller drivers getting up into the Top 10 in this race. It differs from the Daytona 500 in several ways.
First of all, it’s 100 miles shorter. So mechanical issues are less likely. There’s also a bit more pressure on some of the regular guys because it’s the last race before the playoffs. Guys like me aren’t racing for points, so we have almost no pressure on us. The usual guys also have pressure on them for the Daytona 500, but that’s also the first and biggest race so they might be more conservative.
I’m a part time driver for Rick Ware Racing. I retired in 2019 and since then I’ve run six races, including four this year — both Daytona races, Atlanta, which is my home track and Talladega. Those are the races my sponsor, SelectBlinds.com, an e-commerce blinds company, guarantees me they will run.
Aside from that, I’m an analyst for FOX, doing about 45 in-studio shows in Charlotte and I’m a test driver for Ford.
I drive laps frequently, but there’s a difference between doing that and being in a race. So yeah, I am a bit rusty going in each time, but I obviously know Daytona well, having won here more than a decade ago.
The race was supposed to happen on Saturday, but it rained out, so it was moved to Sunday. That comes into play later.
So we’re about 30 laps from the end and all the chatter is the rain. And everyone is getting excited because if it rains, the race is likely going to be called. It’s over. We’ve already been sitting here since Saturday.
So everyone gets excited because this could be it and we have to get into position. I think a little rain came. I know you’re thinking, how would I not know. Well, yeah, we don’t have windshield wipers, but we’re often driving so fast, we don’t actually see it.
And then comes the crash.
With 23 laps to go, I was in 22nd place when the big crash happened. It brought me down to ninth, but when I was going through the debris, I got a flat tire.
A then a lap later, the real rain came and the red flag is waved. We go out of our cars and wait.
Now that I know about the bet, I’m thinking about this guy. He’s got all four of us in the top 10. And it’s a huge rain delay. And yeah, we started early on Sunday, but we were supposed to be done on Saturday. This guy is definitely going crazy. Will NASCAR wait through a two and a half hour rain delay or will they just call it?
I know it’s for some guy to get into the playoffs, but our viewership already isn’t the same?
It’s no longer a Saturday night race on NBC. It’s a morning race on CNBC.
And if they just call it, what are the odds all four of us can stay in the top 10? I know I will immediately lose ground. Everyone who got through the crash has gas and tires to finish. I have a flat. I have to pit and I’m gonna fall back.
The crazy thing here is I’m the wildcard on his bet. Imagine just sitting there with your million dollars on the line!
My crew is solid. We make the tire change and I’m in fifteenth place.
My goal is to win the race, but I’m not going to do something stupid or disrespectful and there’s another thing — I don’t want to tear up the race car. With us, it matters if we come back in one piece and I know, with parts and labor, my car is worth about $500,000.
I do well and get into fifth place when the white flag comes. But I make a couple mistakes. I thought the leader Austin Dillon would go low and he went high. I go low and have no one to draft with, so I fall to seventh.
And on the last turn of the last lap, I get caught on the bottom and had to stabilize myself.
For a second, I thought I was going to run into the grass and would have definitely finished outside the Top 10 and that guy wouldn’t have had his million.
It’s unbelievable this all happened and it’s amazing that a guy sitting at home made a million dollars. Austin, who won the race, didn’t make a million. And I certainly didn’t. I’m not sure exactly, but I’ll wind up with around 40 to 50 percent of the total prize for my finish, which should be around $100,000.
I’m really happy for the guy and his story and would love to meet with him some day.
I always like to hear about people who bet on me. And I can tell you, that was the best marketing that sportsbook could have ever hoped for.
Now everyone, including some of my friends who are just casual NASCAR fans, are going to be doing some crazy Top 10 finish parlays for Darlington this week.