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NASCAR Betting Picks for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway (2022)

by February 20, 2022
Denny Hamlin

The green flag drops on the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season this Sunday afternoon with the 64th running of the Daytona 500. Unlike most other sports that feature their biggest game or event at the conclusion of a season, NASCAR is quite literally the opposite. The Great American Race is the most prestigious auto racing event on the annual calendar. Well over 160,000 will be on hand at The World Center of Racing to witness history on Sunday. Whether you are a seasoned motorsports handicapper or are setting out to start a new venture, there is no better race to have NASCAR betting picks on than the Daytona 500.

The following outlines vital handicapping details and breaks down some of the best NASCAR betting picks for Sunday afternoon’s Daytona 500. Analysis of the top driver odds and outright winner picks are also included.

Daytona 500 Race Details

64th Annual Daytona 500
Date: Sunday, February 20, 2022
Time: 2:30 p.m. EST
Location: Daytona International Speedway — Daytona Beach, FL
TV Coverage: FOX

Daytona 500 Handicapping Notes

The key difference between the Daytona 500 and most other races that will follow throughout the NASCAR Cup Series season is the level playing field. Daytona is one of only two tracks that identify as a superspeedway.  Because of the high banking, drivers have the ability to run open throttle all the way around the 2.5-mile oval. With the progression of technology, modern-day race cars are capable of driving over 220 MPH on the steeply-banked track.

With safety in mind, NASCAR uses a rules package that caps the maximum speeds. For those who might be new to NASCAR betting, the terms “restrictor plate” or “tapered engine spacer” are commonly used when referencing the superspeedway package. Because of the capped speeds, even lower-budget teams have a legitimate shot at winning The Great American Race. The package also creates a tightly-packed draft as the field is largely bunched together throughout the race.

When it comes to outright odds to win the Daytona 500, even the race favorites are listed at or above +900. Once again, we have the nature of superspeedway racing to thank. Even the best superspeedway drivers still have to avoid “The Big One” and be in position at the end. When it comes to the prestigious Daytona 500, most drivers aren’t afraid to move a competitor out of the way on the final lap as needed to etch their own name in NASCAR lore.

Daytona International Speedway Track Stats

  • Length: 2.5 miles
  • Surface: Asphalt
  • Turns: 4
  • Banking: Turns — 31°; Tri-Oval — 18°; Back Straightaway — 2°

Recent Daytona 500 Winners

  • 2021: Michael McDowell
  • 2020: Denny Hamlin
  • 2019: Denny Hamlin
  • 2018: Austin Dillon
  • 2017: Kurt Busch

Daytona 500 Best Bets

Top 5 Finish: Ryan Blaney (+170 at BetMGM)

The last time the NASCAR Cup Series raced at Daytona International Speedway, it was Ryan Blaney who took home the trophy. His win in last year’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 simply marked the high point of what has been a strong run of late at the 2.5-mile track. Over the last four races, Blaney has compiled finishing results of second, sixth, 30th, and first. While his average finish of 18.1 over his last ten starts ranks in the middle of the pack, considering the mean finish without context at a superspeedway is foolish.

Blaney’s average result is dragged down by four finishes of 30th or worse. Avoiding “The Big One” is easier said than done, and the No. 12 Ford Mustang was among the plethora of cars that got caught up in the massive wreck just 14 laps into last year’s Daytona 500. In races that Blaney manages to survive to the finish, he has been extremely successful. He has five top-10 placings and has finished in the top-2 three times in his last ten starts at Daytona. The other element to note here is the importance of race teams and manufacturers at the superspeedways. Over the years, no team has proven more cohesive at navigating the draft traffic and running near the front than Team Penske, of which Blaney is a part.

Denny Hamlin to Win Group A (+260 at DraftKings)

It may seem a bit counterintuitive to bet on another driver in the same group as Ryan Blaney after making the case for him to finish top-5. However, note that both wagers offer a plus-money return. As is quite often the case with NASCAR betting, in-race hedging is a very real thing. Furthermore, it’s hard to pass up having some sort of action riding on Denny Hamlin in the Daytona 500. Hamlin has won The Great American Race three times already in his career including back-to-back victories in 2019-20. When he isn’t winning, he is still consistently throwing down excellent finishes. Hamlin leads all active drivers with at least five previous Cup Series starts at Daytona with a 13.2 average finish over the last ten races. 

While Hamlin’s odds to win the race still offer a solid return, the math is not exactly in the bettor’s favor when you consider that he has to beat 39 other drivers. However, Hamlin will only have to finish ahead of three other drivers to win this Group A prop. The fact that DraftKings has him at the same +260 price as Blaney, Kyle Larson, and Chase Elliott in the group doesn’t make sense based on the outright odds to win the race. By betting Hamlin to win his group instead of the race itself, bettors ensure that the math is in their favor.

Austin Dillon to Win Group 4 (+270 at BetMGM)

No one can deny the success that Austin Dillon has had navigating the draft at Daytona International Speedway. The grandson of team owner Richard Childress, Dillon put the famed No. 3 Chevrolet that was once driven by the late Dale Earnhardt into victory lane by winning the 2018 Daytona 500. Although he has only achieved one top-10 finish in his last six starts, Dillon has what it takes to be the best in this NASCAR betting group.

Dillon’s competition in Group 4 is an interesting mix with all four drivers priced at identical +270 odds. While Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has won at Daytona previously as well, his all-or-nothing style of racing has resulted in a sub-20 average finish over the course of his last ten starts. Meanwhile, Aric Almirola has been the opposite of Dillon over the course of his career in that he tends to run better at Talladega compared to Daytona. The last driver in the group is a Cup Series rookie in Austin Cindric.

One final note to add with regards to Dillon is the help he will have in the draft on Sunday. In addition to RCR teammate Tyler Reddick, pseudo-teammates Justin Haley and Daniel Hemric of Kaulig Racing both know their way around a superspeedway as well. Look for this band of Chevrolets to stick together and help each other out in the Daytona 500.

NASCAR Betting Odds to Win | Daytona 500

The table below offers a comparison of the NASCAR betting odds to win the Daytona 500 across three major U.S. sportsbooks. Normally we would only include the top 20-25 drivers in terms of odds, but this is The Great American Race. Thus, all 40 drivers in this week’s field are listed with their corresponding outright odds. After all, just being a part of the Daytona 500 is worthy of recognition!

Driver DraftKings BetMGM FanDuel
Denny Hamlin +900 +800 +950
Kyle Larson +900 +900 +950
Ryan Blaney +1000 +1200 +1200
Chase Elliott +1100 +1000 +1200
Joey Logano +1200 +1200 +1300
Brad Keselowski +1400 +1600 +1500
William Byron +1500 +1400 +1700
Kyle Busch +1500 +1600 +1700
Austin Dillon +1800 +2500 +2000
Alex Bowman +1800 +1800 +2100
Martin Truex Jr. +2000 +2500 +2400
Bubba Wallace +2000 +1600 +1900
Kurt Busch +2000 +1600 +1900
Kevin Harvick +2000 +2000 +2000
Aric Almirola +2500 +2200 +2500
Austin Cindric +2500 +3300 +3100
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. +2500 +3300 +3100
Chris Buescher +2500 +2500 +2800
Tyler Reddick +2800 +3300 +3000
Michael McDowell +2800 +4000 +3200
Christopher Bell +3000 +3300 +2900
Chase Briscoe +3000 +5000 +3800
Justin Haley +3500 +4000 +3800
Ross Chastain +3500 +4000 +4100
Harrison Burton +4000 +3000 +5500
Daniel Suarez +5000 +6600 +5500
Daniel Hemric +6000 +6600 +6500
Erik Jones +6000 +5000 +5000
Cole Custer +7000 +6600 +5500
Greg Biffle +7500 +6600 +5500
Ty Dillon +10000 +8000 +9000
Noah Gragson +10000 +10000 +10000
Corey LaJoie +10000 +10000 +9000
Landon Cassill +10000 +12500 +13000
Jacques Villeneuve +10000 +25000 +20000
Kaz Grala +10000 +12500 +10000
Todd Gilliland +15000 +15000 +13000
B.J. McLeod +15000 +25000 +20000
Cody Ware +15000 +25000 +13000

Favorite: Denny Hamlin (+950 at FanDuel)

Hamlin is the odds-on favorite to win Sunday’s race with odds as low as +800. Given his pedigree at Daytona International Speedway, oddsmakers are fully justified in designating him as the favorite. While the level playing field of superspeedways might make races like the Daytona 500 seem like a total crapshoot on the surface, Hamlin is proof that there is much more than luck involved. With three Daytona 500 victories on his resume and an average finish of 13.2 over his last ten starts, the stats tell the story. No active NASCAR Cup Series driver is as skilled in the Daytona draft as Hamlin. One way or another, the No. 11 car will be a factor on Sunday.

Value Bet: Brad Keselowski (+1600 at BetMGM)

When Brad Keselowski made the decision to leave a powerhouse in Team Penske to assume a driver-owner role with the newly-named Roush-Fenway-Keselowski Racing, it was clear that big things were on the horizon. A former NASCAR Cup Series champion doesn’t just up and leave a solid ride for a team that has been languishing without a plan in place. Well, RFK Racing already put its stamp on the map by sweeping the Bluegreen Vacations Duel races Thursday night. As a result, Brad Keselowski will start right next to teammate Chris Buescher on the second row. Could this be the year that Keselowski captures the Daytona 500 victory that has eluded him throughout his career?

Longshot Hopeful: Noah Gragson (+10000 at DraftKings, BetMGM, and FanDuel)

In most races, drivers priced in the 100-1 range wouldn’t even be worth a sniff. As discussed previously, the Daytona 500 is a different beast altogether. Noah Gragson may be starting 39th, but he will have plenty of time to make his way to the front. Of course, you won’t find Gragson’s name listed among the recent NASCAR Cup Series driver stats for Daytona International Speedway. That’s because the 23-year-old competes in the Xfinity Series. Gragson has scored four top-15 finishes and an Xfinity Series win at The World Center of Racing back in February of 2020.

Gragson qualified for the 2022 Daytona 500 as an open entrant for Beard Motorsports, a race team that has all of one full-time employee on its payroll. Nonetheless, the now-retired Brendan Gaughan drove the No. 62 Chevy to a seventh-place showing in The Great American Race two years ago. Given how strong Gragson is on the superspeedways, he just might achieve the impossible as a NASCAR betting longshot.

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Henry John is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Henry, check out his archive and follow him @HankTimeHenry.

Motorsports, NASCAR