We’re entering a new NASCAR season with the upcoming Daytona 500 and we look to get back on track with the winners. Over the years we’ve dominated this sport with consistent top-10 finishes and winners at an impressive clip. Last year was quite frustrating, but we did pick up steam late in the season and hopefully that momentum carries us over. Either way, it’s time to pad the bankroll and we start with the Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing.
Here are five drivers to consider throwing on this week’s card.
Austin Dillon - A driver hasn’t won the Daytona 500 in back-to-back years since Sterling Marlin did so in 1994-95, but that’s not stopping me from playing Austin Dillon at +3300 odds. Dillon won this race last year and has developed quite a track record at Daytona, as he’s produced top-10 finishes in seven of his last 10 appearances here. Dillon averaged a fifth place finish in his two trips to Daytona last year and has an average finish of 12.5 in his last seven appearances. The consistency on this track alone makes Dillon a nice play, even if he has just two career wins on this level and doesn’t bring the same experience as other drivers.
Kurt Busch - Even with his last three trips to Daytona being forgettable, Kurt Busch has produced top-10 finishes here in five of his last 10 trips. Busch also won the Daytona 500 in 2017 and has three runner-up finishes as well. Busch was the king last year of being close but no cigar, and you have to think it’s only a matter of time before he kicks in the door and returns to victory lane. Busch and +1600 odds is probably one of the better bets you’re going to find on this weeks card.
Denny Hamlin - Denny Hamlin hasn’t won a race since the 2017 Bojangles' Southern 500, which is when the movie It was released. It’s been a while. However, Hamlin has become a must play in the Daytona 500 over the years, as he not only won this race in 2016 but is averaging a finish of 5.4 in his last five tries here overall. Hamlin has finished fourth or better in five of his last seven appearances at the Daytona 500. There’s simply no way you can put a NASCAR card together and leave Hamlin off at +1200 odds.
Joey Logano - Instead of playing Brad Keselowski as the favorite, a guy who has finished 20th or worse in seven of his nice trips at the Daytona 500, I’ll take a stab with Joey Logano at +800 odds. Logano finished the season very strong with wins in two of his last four races and an eighth place finish or better in six of his last seven races. Logano won the Daytona 500 in 2015 and has produced an average finish of 4.25 in his last four trips here. You can make a strong case Logano should be the favorite and not Keselowski, so there’s some value in this spot.
Erik Jones - If you’re looking for a bigger dark horse to win this race, Erik Jones and +2200 odds is worth a look. Jones finished the season strong last year, finishing eighth or better in 13 of his last 21 races. Jones has been horrible in his only two Daytona 500 appearances, but he did finish ninth in the 2017 Coke Zero 400 and won last years Coke Zero Sugar 400, so there’s success in Daytona overall for the 22-year-old. Bottom line is Jones has been nibbling around victory lane a lot and anytime I can get him over 20 to 1 odds, it’s worth considering. It won’t be long before Jones starts turning these solid performances into constant victories.