The greatest event in all of sports is once again upon us. Forget the Super Bowl, forget the NBA Finals, forget all of that. The Daytona 500 is the greatest spectacle in all of sports and no one can change my mind about that. People forget these drivers are going 200 mph for 500 miles and are constantly on the brink of death. Tell me another sport where the athletes are willing to die to compete. I guarantee the second guys like Lebron are told they could actually die if they go out on the basketball court they would have retired yesterday. I know what a lot of people are going to say, but no one has died since Earnhardt and the cars are so safe now, this was Ryan Newman last year.
Ryan came inches from death and somehow only suffered a minor head injury. He loves competing so much he was back racing a few weeks later and will be strapping in again this Sunday to compete in the same race that almost killed him a year earlier. Race car drivers are a different breed. There is no more exciting and no closer finishes in all of sports than the end of a Daytona 500. Milliseconds stand between these drivers and eternal glory or 1st loser.
Take a look at these finishes over the years.
Betting on a Nascar race, especially a superspeedway race is about the dumbest thing you can do with your money, but we're gonna go ahead and do it anyway. Here's who to consider for your next gambling loss.
Denny Hamlin +750
3x winner of the Daytona 500 and current odds favorite. Denny has won the race the past 2 years and always seems to be up there at the end. No one has ever won the race 3 years in a row though, and I wouldn't expect that to change now.
Chase Elliot +950
Defending Nascar Champion and 1x Talladega winner, Chase will be looking to add the Harley J. Earl trophy to his already impressive collection. He's had some bad luck at the 500 in the past, but there's no hotter driver in the sport right now.
Ryan Blaney +1200
My favorite driver. Ryan is the 2x defending Daytona 500 runner-up. If you don't think Denny can 3-peat then maybe you think the guy who finished second the past 2 years to Denny can finally break through and win one. Ryan is becoming one of, if not the best superspeedway driver in the sport. With 2 wins at Talladega and back-to-back runner-ups at the 500 Blaney may be a worthwhile bet, especially at those odds.
Brad Keselowski/Joey Logano +1200
Blaney's Penske teammates, these two are always a threat on superspeedways. 8 Talladega wins between them and a 500 win. Penske is always strong at these races, so either of these two would be worth a shot
Middle of the Pack:
Hendrick Motorsports drivers +1700-2000
Chase Elliot's 3 teammates don't have the best track records at these tracks. Hendrick has 8 wins in the 500, but none since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2014. Byron won the summer race in Daytona last year, but that race often doesn't play out like the 500 does. Bowman and Byron will be sitting on the front row to start this race, but as we've seen in the past these cars don't seem to race as well as they qualify.
Stewart-Haas drivers +1300-4000
Kurt Busch won the 500 for Stewart-Haas back in 2017, but he is no longer with the team. The only driver on this team with a 500 win is Kevin Harvick back in 2007. Watch out for Aric Almirola, he always seems to be there at the end. Unfortunately though he's usually pushing or getting spun out by Austin Dillon.
Austin Dillon +2000
Winner of the 500 in 2018, Austin has shown that he has a knack for winning Nascar's marquee races, and he's shown that he is not afraid to take another driver out if that's what he has to do. You never know what that famous No. 3 is going to do at Daytona either.
Ricky Stenhouse +2400
Ricky has turned into a wildcard on superspeedways. Winner at Talladega and the Daytona summer race he has shown he can get it done on these types of tracks. Ricky is the ultimate homerun or bust. He's either going to win this race or he's going to end up in the wall trying. Buyer beware.
Matt DiBenedetto +3000
Matt has come close to winning several races in previous seasons and is a solid superspeedway driver. Wood Brothers is an affiliate of Penske and they are looking for their 100th win in the sport. They've shocked us once before with Trevor Bayne winning the 500 out of nowhere back in 2011, so don't be surprised if they pull it off again.
Christopher Bell +4000
Lastly we have Christopher Bell. Bell has shown in the xFinity series that he is a winner and this year he was awarded with an upgrade to a Joe Gibbs ride. I wouldn't be surprised to see him find his way to the front and prove that he belongs in his new ride.
I may be biased here, but I'm picking Blaney to win this race. He's proven that he know's how to get to the end of superspeedway races and he's shown that he knows how to close them out as well. I think he finally breaks through here at the 500 after 2 straight runner-up efforts.