NASCAR

NASCAR Betting Guide: Daytona 500

Jim Sannes
Jim Sannes@JimSannes
NASCAR Betting Guide: Daytona 500

(NOTE: NASCAR has postponed this year's Daytona 500 to Monday. With the new start time being more than 24 hours after the stated start time, per FanDuel Sportsbook's house rules, all previous bets will be voided.

For transparency purposes, the original recommendations in this piece will remain below the updated recommendations.)

Monday Addition: Ryan Preece to Win (+5500)

Ryan Preece is someone I wanted to target earlier in the week. Even with Preece's disappointing effort in the Duels -- and a poor Thursday from Ford all around -- these lengthened odds are advantageous enough for me to go back to Preece.

As laid out earlier, Preece has a good long-term track record on pack tracks. Preece had 5 top-10s in 12 pack races with JTG-Daugherty Racing, lower-tier equipment than he's in now. He didn't get results quite as good with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2023, but he did have a top-17 average running position in 5 of 6 races.

Preece wasn't much of a factor in the Duels and will start 25th as a result. And, yes, my opinion of Ford did decrease due to what I saw on Thursday. The odds, though, have lengthened to account for that.

With the fresh slate, my model has Preece's win odds at 2.4%, up from 1.8% implied at +5500. I think there's enough here to justify turning to Preece once again.

Monday Addition: Todd Gilliland to Win (+7500)

In the original recommendations, I sided with Todd Gilliland's podium odds at +1900 because there was enough value there to justify looking at the more forgiving market. But now that Gilliland's outright odds have lengthened, this is the better route to betting him.

Gilliland's new implied odds are 1.3%. My model has him at 2.0% to win, a healthy amount above this number. It's also a bigger edge than you get in his new podium odds (5.6% implied at +1700 versus 5.9% in the sims). Thus, you can see why we'd flip this direction with how the market has moved.

The original thought process still applies: Gilliland is competitive on superspeedways. In his first Daytona race with Front Row Motorsports, he was running up front all day until an ill-timed bump draft got him caught up in a crash not of his own doing. He had four top-17 average running positions in six pack races that year, and he had four top-16 finishes last year.

Front Row may have more upside this year than in years past. They're now a Tier 1 Ford organization and in a technical alliance with Team Penske. This isn't a speed-centric track, but you'd always rather be fast if given the option. I think Gilliland deserves a look if you're considering a longshot on Monday.

Original Recommendations

Generally, leaning on longshots in your betting card is going to be a tough strategy.

The hit rate of those longshots is inherently low, so even if you're snagging good value, you can have long stretches of pure misery.

That's true in NASCAR, too. Longshots are longshots for a reason.

But for the Daytona 500, those longshots look like the best values.

The favorites in FanDuel Sportsbook's Daytona 500 betting odds are all a smidge overvalued, at least by my numbers. The first driver showing even a bit of value for me is Erik Jones at +3000, and even that's pretty thin.

Thus, if we want quality, +EV bets, we're going to have to dig into the big numbers.

Luckily, I agree with my model on some of the longshots it likes. One in particular, I think, deserves extra consideration, so let's start there and then dig into other spots where my model is showing value prior to Wednesday night's qualifying.

Ryan Preece to Win (+5000)

(UPDATE: Preece has since shortened to +4300 to win, bringing his implied odds up to 2.3%. After Thursday's qualifying races, Preece is at 2.4% in my model. It's pretty thin value now, so if Preece isn't already on your card, I'd hold off.)

If you watched NASCAR: Full Speed on Netflix, you saw some clips of Ryan Preece at Daytona.

We're just not gonna call them "highlights."

That was just one race in what was a tough year for Preece on pack tracks. He finished 24th or worse in 5 of 6 races and was outside the top 30 in half.

Those finishes undersell how well he ran, though. Preece had a top-17 average running position in all but one race, and he led multiple laps three times. He was able to cash in with an eighth-place finish in Talladega, his first pack race after that wicked tumble.

That's more in line with the Preece we saw before he joined Stewart-Haas Racing. With JTG-Daugherty Racing, Preece had 5 top-10s in 12 races, including a podium at Talladega in 2019. Even with SHR on the downturn, this is still better equipment than he had back then. He's capable of running up front.

My model has Preece's win odds at 3.1%, up from 2.0% implied. Preece is as short as +3500 at some other books, so we are getting a discount at FanDuel on a guy who should be due for some positive regression.

Todd Gilliland to Podium (+1900)

(UPDATE: Gilliland has since shortened to +1700 to podium. After Thursday's qualifying races, my model has him at 5.9%, just a smidge ahead of his new 5.6% implied odds. Similar to Preece, I'd hold off if you haven't already added Gilliland.)

I am showing value on Todd Gilliland to win. His implied odds at +6500 are 1.5%, and I have him at 2.0%. You could justify going that route if you wanted.

I just think this is the slightly better market.

My model puts Gilliland on the podium 6.5% of the time, up from 5.0% implied at +1900. Not only do we get a bit extra cushion on his finishing position, but it's still a legit value by the model.

And as with Preece, I agree with being high on Gilliland. Gilliland hung around to finish 16th or better in 4 of 6 pack races last year, and he had 3 top-15 average running positions in 2022. He has just two top-10s to show for it, but there's skill here.

Gilliland twice finished on the podium in the Truck Series at Talladega. Given he's still fresh in his Cup Series career, I don't want to write off that talent shining through at the highest level in the near future.

Martin Truex Jr. Over Kyle Busch (+108)

(UPDATE: Truex has since shortened to -102 to top Kyle Busch. I think there's a better market to bet Truex if you didn't add this one earlier. Check that out below.)

It likely feels odd to bet against Kyle Busch after he nearly won Daytona last year and did win in Talladega. It's even weirder when the opponent is someone who notoriously has never won on a superspeedway.

But Martin Truex Jr.'s skills on this track type are underrated. He was a close second at Daytona in 2018, and he has had a top-15 average running position in 9 of 12 pack races during the Next-Gen era.

Busch was definitely the better guy on this track type last year, but there's a ton of variance in that. The two drivers split this head-to-head, three to three, as teammates in 2022. You'd certainly favor Busch straight up, but 48.1% implied odds are a different discussion.

Superspeedways have absurd levels of volatility. You can be the best driver on the planet and still wreck early. Thus, plus odds in a matchup should at least get our attention. In this specific situation, it's enough for me to take the bait and actually ride with Truex, even over a tough foe.

Post-Duels Update: Martin Truex Jr. to Win (+2300)

The headliner on Thursday night was the Toyotas. They swept both Duel races, showing great pace coming through the pack.

I had interest in Truex before then, but that showing pushed me over the edge.

Truex, specifically, didn't get a great finish. He'll start 27th as a result. But that's due to Truex's running out of gas during a green-flag pit stop, which sent him to the back of the pack. He then seemed to prioritize getting fellow Toyota Jimmie Johnson into the field rather than pushing forward himself.

As discussed above, Truex is an underrated pack racer. He runs out front, leads laps, and wins stages on these tracks. My model has Truex at 4.9% to win the race, up from 4.2% at his new implied odds.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.