Hello once again dear readers, and welcome to the first 2022 installment of the blog where we try to make money on cars that go really fast. Today really needs no introduction: it’s Daytona 500 day!

The Great American Race returns to a packed Daytona International Speedway today for NASCAR’s season opener. Coming off of some of the best ratings in a very long time for a NASCAR event at the Clash at the Coliseum in LA, NASCAR is hoping for a show worthy of keeping some of those potential new fans around.

And Daytona should give more of an authentic feel to what the sport generally is than the Clash. Those who aren’t as into this stuff as I and my fellow nerds are might not appreciate the slower, more methodical “short track racing” of the Clash. Daytona is all about maintaining the highest speed possible, and not wrecking.

That last part is a key element. Superspeedway racing (Daytona and Talladega) breeds chaos. I and several of the sport’s commentators equate a drafting pack going upwards of 180 mph to being in a hornets nest. One false move and your race, and potentially the race of many others, can come to a screeching halt. 

Because of this, gambling on Daytona is no easy task. I’ll tell a tale from just this past Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race: 

I placed a small wager on John Hunter Nemechek to finish in the top five of the truck race at -110. Nemechek is never lower than 4th place for the entirety of the race, everything looking solid for me heading to the final lap. UNTIL Nemechek tries to bump draft the car ahead to push toward the front, the car ahead loses control, wiping out both cars and my bet.

Or another story from a small wager on AJ Allmendinger to win last night’s Xfinity Series “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300”:

Myatt Snider flies into catchfence in horrific crash on final lap of NASCAR  Xfinity Series race at Daytona - CBSSports.com
Hey man you’re not supposed to be facing that way or be in the air for that matter

The Dinger was a tasty +950 to win, and ran well all race. Leading at the last lap, an absolutely terrifying wreck happened behind him, causing a caution flag which ended the race on the last lap. At the moment of the caution, second place Austin Hill actually got his nose ahead of Allmendinger’s #16 car, and stole the win away from Dinger, and me.

I tell these tales to warn of the dangers of superspeedway gambling. It is not for the faint of heart. If you’re still with me, now’s the time to dig in.

OUTRIGHT WINNERS

Joey Logano +1200

Brad Keselowski +1600

Bubba Wallace +1800

Kevin Harvick +2000

Christopher Bell +3000

As I’ve tried to hammer home so far in this blog, there isn’t really a specific method to picking a winner for Daytona. You can look at spreadsheets that track superspeedway results and try to correlate them with your gambling lines or whatever, but a 20 car wreck might just undo all of your hard work. 

All of the guys here can get it done going nearly 200 mph around a massive tri-oval. Bubba Wallace, for example, really excels in superspeedway racing compared to his performances elsewhere. 

Logano and Keselowski, two of my picks here, actually were 1-2 at last year’s Daytona 500, wrecking hard on the final lap and giving Michael McDowell the win. Keselowski had made his way up to the front from his 24th spot on the grid to start, and Logano managed the race well enough to stay around the top spots until that fiery crash.

TOP 5/10s

Denny Hamlin Top 5 +100

Christopher Bell Top 10 -110

A market that I tend to like more outside of the superspeedways for all the reasons I’ve already brought up, Daytona brings some very juiced lines to a lot of these markets. The aforementioned Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are both -200 to finish top ten, while being +1200 and +1600 outright to win. Value is hard to find.

Denny Hamlin is a chalky pick here, the favorite to win the race, but as the only man in the field who’s won this race more than once, the number is deserved. Denny starts back a ways but that’s never deterred anyone at Daytona before.

MATCHUPS

Kevin Harvick +130 vs Chase Elliott

Kyle Larson -120 vs Ryan Blaney

Bubba Wallace -110 vs Aric Almirola

Greg Biffle -110 vs Kaz Grala

Joey Logano -110 vs. Ryan Blaney

I’m attempting to keep this relatively short and sweet as I am up against it for time, but some really fun plays here if the outrights aren’t your bag. Watching these battles play out over the course of the race is always a treat. 

Biffle/Grala a very fun one because neither of those cars will be competing for anything serious and mostly just want to finish in one piece. Who wins the battle of the shitboxes? Why only bet on good cars? There’s fun to be had all over the track.

SPECIALS/PROPS/WHATEVER ELSE

Denny Hamlin Group Winner +260 (over Larson, Elliott, Blaney)

Driver Who Takes White Flag Doesn’t Win Race -115 

Hendrick Motorsports More Cars to Finish Top 10 +115 (over Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske)

Richard Childress Racing More Cars to Finish Top 10 -120 (over 23XI Racing)

Some more fun plays on offer here, I really like the driver to take the white flag not winning the race, which has happened numerous times including just last night during the Xfinity Series race at Daytona. It’s a bet on chaos, and at Daytona, the main thing you can bet on is chaos.

Let’s go racin’.