The first Cup Series race of the year is about to begin as the Daytona 500 will take place on Sunday.
Coming into this year there are a couple of questions that need to be answered early. First, will the Big 3 of Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch once again dominate the winner’s circle? And second, will these young drivers start to truly usher this sport into a new era?
It’s going to be hard to tell with just one race but there is a serious opportunity for a young gun to step up and take home the Daytona title, as this is one of the toughest races to predict on the year.
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In the last 10 years, only one driver has repeated as the champion at Daytona (Jimmie Johnson, 2013) and 15 different drivers have seen the checkered flag. This race is a crapshoot and anyone can win.
For now, we’re going to stay conservative with our pick as we will choose Joey Logano who is coming off of his first Cup Series title and has finished in the top 10 in 40 percent of his career races at Daytona. He also has five top-5 finishes and a win (2015).
The Daytona 500 can be seen Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on Fox.
What are the betting odds for the Daytona 500?
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How this race goes will likely be determined by how qualifying goes. In the last 10 years, 12 winners have come from the top 10 (60 percent) and 16 from the top 15 (80 percent). Austin Dillon has made a habit of starting near the front of this race and had good results because of it. He has finished inside the top 10 in 63.6 percent (7 of 11) of his races at Daytona and won last year’s spring race starting in 14th.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is starting to develop a reputation as a very good restrictor-plate racer as he has two wins at Talladega and Dayton in the last two years and 10 top-10 finishes on those two tracks in his career. He has had more success at Talladega, but he is comfortable at Daytona.
Erik Jones won his first career race at Daytona in the fall last season and has two top-10 finishes in his career on the track. He seems to be a fan of wide-open racing and Daytona has plenty of that.
One sleeper for the Daytona 500
You have to take a driver’s opinion of how they’ll finish a race with a grain of salt, but Matt DiBenedetto is pretty confident in himself this year.
“My betting odds for the Daytona 500 are 200/1,” he wrote on Twitter last week. “Not sure how (we had a shot to win last year, always ran well at speedways, and our LFR team is gonna be strong this year) but either way could be one heck of a pay day for some people lol.”
My betting odds for the Daytona 500 are 200/1 ?? Not sure how (we had a shot to win last year, always ran well at speedways, and our LFR team is gonna be strong this year) but either way could be one heck of a pay day for some people lol
He says he is a bargain at 200/1 and with two top-10 finishes in his career at Daytona and top-13 finishes in three of his last four races there, he may be getting overlooked. He’s definitely a sleeper to finish well in this race.
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