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Daytona 500: Top Contenders’ Odds and Best Futures Bet

Hendrick Motorsports(8 wins ) @ Petty Enterprises(9 wins )

  • Where: Daytona International Speedway. Daytona Beach, FL
  • When: February 17, 2019 11:45 am EST
  • Moneyline: Brad Keselowski (+700), Joey Logano (+825), Kevin Harvick (+850), Kyle Busch (+1200), Aric Almirola (+1300), Austin Dillon (+3500)

The Daytona 500 will start the 2019 NASCAR season in Daytona Beach, Florida on Sunday, February 17th, and as betting action on the Great American Race heats up, gamblers may notice that last season’s winner Austin Dillon is nowhere close to the top of the futures odds board.

“Ace” is getting no love from bookies and clientele, who favor names like Keselowski (7-to-1) and Logano (+825). What is the situation behind Dillon’s expected crank-and-sputter title defense? Scroll down for capsule-updates on each driver and our prediction for the checkered flag.

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Austin Finds His Limits

There was a “fairy tale” element to Austin Dillon’s exciting win at Daytona last season. Dillon survived an epic crash with 6 laps to go in the race, and then wound up contacting leader Aric Almirola and tapping his competitor’s car aside.

But as it happened, the TV broadcast crew didn’t seem entirely thrilled with the way in which Dillon won. That’s kind of a microcosm of where the 28-year-old North Carolinian has been in his career path.

Talented, up-and-coming at the NASCAR level while greatly accomplished on other levels as a young man. But somehow “Ace” doesn’t get the esteem of a true defending champion.

His 2018 was unpredictable. After some promising finishes in the top 5, Dillon sank out of contention in the Cup race and slammed his automobile into the outside wall twice during a race in Charlotte in September.

Dillon is back with an old friend, Danny Stockman, who helped him win Truck Series and Nationwide Series titles earlier in the decade. Does he merit such long (+3500) betting odds for Daytona? Maybe not, but the results from late 2018 were nothing to get revved-up about.

Brad Keselowski (+700 Odds-to-Win Daytona 500)

The 34-year old former Cup series champion begins his 10th season driving for Team Penske. Coming off signature wins at the Southern 500 in Darlington and the Brickyard 400 in Indy, the driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford is odds-on for the upcoming Daytona 500.

A Rochester Hills, Michigan native, Keselowski won his first career Cup title in 2012 and has competed in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series playoffs in 7 of the last 8 seasons.

But, I’m not buying this racer as a clear favorite. Keselowski has won on the actual racetrack at Daytona before, but his best finish at the Great American Race was a 3rd place finish in 2014. He finished 8th last season after a series of unfortunate finishes that potentially could have been superior results with better teamwork and forethought.

Joey Logano (+825)

2018 was a momentous season for Logano, a 28-year-old native of Connecticut and one of the best racecar drivers in America. The driver of a #22 Shell Ford won his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship for Team Penske, grabbing the title with a victory in the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The former Rookie of the Year picked up essential wins at Talladega and Martinsville.

Logano will begin his title defense by looking for a follow-up Daytona 500 crown. He’s been around the lead a lot in the race lately.

Kevin Harvick (+850)

This 43-year-old veteran has created an illustrious Cup career since his 2001 rookie campaign. In many ways, Harvick is basically the epitome of consistency. Harvick and the Busch team have earned a trip to the playoffs in each of the past 5 seasons.

Harvick dominated in 2018 with over half a dozen wins, including victories at Atlanta, Las Vegas, Richmond, and the All-Star race at Charlotte. He then was just short of a championship with a 3rd place finish in the final standings.

He’ll seek a 2nd victory at the Great American Race in 2019, but is the Daytona track becoming a bugaboo for an otherwise luminous racer the way the Indianapolis Motor Speedway beleaguered Mario Andretti?

Harvick’s lone Daytona 500 win came in 2007 and he has not finished in the top 5 since 2016.

Kyle Busch (+1200)

The younger of the Busch brothers, Kyle has come nail-bitingly close to nabbing another Monster Energy title in only a few competitive seasons. The 33-year old driver of #18 M&M’s Toyota has won a trip to the Championship 4 in each of the past 4 seasons, though his lone title came in 2015.

With 51 career Cup series victories, Busch ranks behind only the renowned Jimmie Johnson for most wins by an active driver. Busch scored 8 more victories in 2018, including wins at Bristol, Richmond, and Charlotte. Busch would come up short in the Championship 4 at the Homestead season finale and finished 4th in the final standings.

In spite of having one of the most imposing NASCAR careers in recent memory, Busch has yet to see the winner’s circle at the Daytona 500. His best career finish at the Great American Race was 3rd in 2016.

Aric Almirola (+1300)

Almirola has the hardest psychological job of all drivers in the 2019 race. He must work to climb back into a winning position, and then conquer any sense of Deja Vu.

The 34-year-old Almirola is looking to build off of his best season to date. A native of Tampa, Florida, he picked up his first win with Stewart-Haas Racing at Talladega in ‘18 and earned a trip to the playoffs for the 2nd time in his career. The Cuban Missile scarcely missed the Championship 4 and finished 5th in the final 2018 standings.

The past pair of Daytona 500s have been frustrating for Almirola. He picked up a 4th place finish in 2017.

My Lean for the Daytona 500

I’m liking Joey Logano at (+825). The true favorite almost certainly has 10% or 20% better real chances to win as Keselowski at the shorter number.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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