The 63rd running of the Daytona 500 will kick off the NASCAR Cup Series season. The 2020 Cup season was wild, especially in the face of the continuing global COVID-19 pandemic. This caused a break in action from March 8th to May 17th. But the season ended on a shock note as Kevin Harvick had been at or near the top of the standings all campaign long, only to fail to make it to the championship round. There, Chase Elliott won the season finale at Phoenix, outlasting Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. It was Elliott’s first Cup title, and he won three of the last five races (including the final two at Martinsville and Phoenix) to do so. Of course, that also means it is time for Daytona 500 odds.
You can watch the Daytona 500 from Daytona Beach, Florida, on Sunday, February 14th at 2:30 PM ET on Fox. It will be held at venerable Daytona International Speedway, which is 2.5 miles long and is one of the restrictor-plate tracks that NASCAR visits, along with Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
|2021 Daytona 500|
|Date: Sunday, February 14, 2021 at 2:30 PM ET|
|Location: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida|
|Where To Watch: FOX|
|Where to Bet: Best Sportsbooks to Bet on NASCAR|
You should know that “The Great American Race” is the first race of the season at Daytona. There is one usually later in the summer. However, that means the track is much different for the Daytona 500 as it is usually cooler in the day. This makes a difference in tire wear and other factors. Also, the summer race is 400 miles, as opposed to 500 for this race.
Drivers tend to team up with others at Daytona, usually their teammates, to draft safely in a single-file line around the massive track for the majority of the race. However, things tend to get frisky during the last 30-40 laps, and that is when “The Big One” can happen. For example:
*All Daytona 500 Odds from BetOnline*
The Daytona 500 Odds Favorites
Hamlin leads the group in the Daytona 500 odds at +650. He has won three of the last five editions of this race, including the last two. In his last nine Daytona 500s, Hamlin has three wins and seven top-four finishes overall. Therefore, he knows how to survive in this race, which gives him a chance to win at the end. Hamlin’s main focus in 2021 is to finally break his title drought as he has come close a few times. But he is definitely a threat in this race.
Elliott is next at +900. He has already had a wild Speedweeks as he wrecked Ryan Blaney on the final lap of the Busch Clash, which was eventually won by Kyle Busch on the Daytona road course. The defending Cup champion has never finished higher than 14th in five Daytona 500s, and has finished 17th in each of the last two years. However, Hamlin finished 17th in worse in each of his first six starts in this race. That shows it takes some time to get used to the wild style of racing you see at Daytona and Talladega.
The next group of contenders are stellar as Blaney leads the way at +1000, while Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch are all in at +1100. In this group, only Logano (2015) has won the Daytona 500, although Keselowski won the Daytona summer race in 2016. Keselowski, Logano and Busch are all very aggressive, which means they can put themselves in trouble in restrictor-plate races. It should be noted that Blaney (who finished second to Hamlin in last year’s Daytona 500), Logano and Keselowski are all teammates at Team Penske, which means they’ll probably team up throughout the race. However, all bets are off with 10 laps to go or less.
Kevin Harvick is right behind them at +1200. He won the 2007 Daytona 500 in a wreck-filled finish (aren’t they all at Daytona?) over Mark Martin. He finished fifth in last year’s race, but Harvick will be eager to get back on the track after what happened last season. Harvick had nine wins going into Martinsville, but was eliminated from competing in the championship race thanks to a late-race crash with Kyle Busch (caused by Harvick’s aggressiveness). He would settle for a 17th-place finish.
Here is where you can make some sports betting money on the Daytona 500 odds. The fun aspect of restrictor-plate racing is that anyone can win, thanks to a style that causes big wrecks which can knock favorites out of the way. For example, William Byron has odds of +1600, coming off a win in the 2020 Daytona summer race. Martin Truex Jr. is used to being a favorite at most races, but he sits at +2200 because he struggles at restrictor-plate tracks, although he did finish fourth here in the summer.
If you want to go for a real long shot, look at Chris Buescher at +4000. Buescher has finished fifth in two of the last three Daytona 500s. He also finished at the summer race here in 2020. Buescher is a great draft racer and he gives himself a chance by hanging around at the end. One of these days, he’ll win one. Will it come on Sunday in the biggest stock-car race in the USA?
Daytona 500 Odds Pick
No driver has ever won the Daytona 500 three times in a row, so a three-peat for Hamlin would put him in exclusive territory. It would also put him at four wins, along with Cale Yarborough and behind only Richard Petty’s seven wins. However, there is a reason that no one has ever three-peated in “The Great American Race”; it’s really, really hard. I’m going to go with Kevin Harvick to win his second Daytona 500. He probably didn’t sleep much over the offseason, thinking about what happened at Martinsville. He’ll want to correct that, starting on Sunday with a win here.