This is the week. A big winning bet at a restrictor plate track (super speedway) can make an entire season profitable. Sometimes it can make a life profitable (see below). This NASCAR Best Bets article will focus on the season opening, premier Cup Series event — The Daytona 500.
There will be a Craftmans Truck Series race at Daytona on Friday Night (Feb. 17) and an Xfinity Series race on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 18). Both of these events — due to the nature of the racing at Daytona, Talladega and Atlanta — can be won by long shot picks. For DraftKings Sportsbook NASCAR Picks from the lower series, follow @Race4thePrize on Twitter.
The 75th NASCAR season will get underway when the green flag waves at the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 19. Although the cars are no longer fitted with restrictor plates, the racing is essentially the same. All cars are on an even playing field. Michael McDowell won the 2021 Daytona 500 despite being a 100-1 underdog. In the 2022 summer Daytona race, a bettor won $1 million on a $13 parlay bet – Cody Ware +2000, B.J. McLeod +2000, Landon Cassill +1500 and David Ragan +950 to all finish inside the top 10. Long story short, fade the shorts odds play the long odds.
Race Winner — Daytona 500
Justin Haley +4,000
It must be stated that his win in the 2019 Summer Daytona Cup Series race was a bit of a fluke. That being said, most restrictor plate wins are a fluke or require a significant amount of luck. Haley inherited the lead after the leader, Kurt Busch, made the poor decision to pit during a yellow-flag weather delay. A series of lightning storms ensued, and the race ended early with Haley in the lead and many other long shots inside the top 10. Haley was lucky to win, but he was lucky to still have a car in one piece, but that’s the name of the game at super speedways. Haley has won multiple plate races in the Xfinity Series, and Kaulig Racing has made a name for itself at Daytona.
Noah Gragson +7,500
This is similar to the Haley pick. Like Haley, Gragson has multiple plate track wins in the Xfinity Series. Often lower series stats do not mean much. There isn’t much correlation. All of the Cup drivers won in the lower series. That’s how they got to the Cup Series. Also, they enjoyed a sizable equipment advantage in the lower series. However, there seems to be more correlation between plate track wins across the three series. This is likely because there isn’t a disparity in equipment in these style of races. Plate-racing skill and luck are the determining factors. Those factors carry over as a driver ascends to each new series. Lastly, Gragson is joining a team that is on the rise — Legacy Motor Club (formerly Petty-GMS). Plate tracks in particular are highlighted on their calendar. This team has closed the competitive gap with the elite teams, but no gap exists at Daytona, Talladega and Atlanta.
Check back later this week for additional NASCAR matchup bets and prop bets as they become available on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Race Winner — Daytona 500
David Ragan +10,000
He’s never won at Daytona but he has won at Talladega. It was a long time ago, but not much has changed since his 2013 win. Tandem racing is gone, but plate racing is still plate racing. Survive and make a move at the end. Ragan has been close in recent years. His Front Row Motorsports teammate, Michael McDowell, won the 2021 Daytona 500 for Front Row Motorsports at 100-1 odds. McDowell was the driver that pushed Ragan to the 2013 win at Talladega. Ragan has earned a top-10 finish in three of his last four Daytona races, so he’s close.
Travis Pastrana +10,000
This is a little fancy, but Michael McDowell won the 2021 Daytona 500. Trevor Bayne won this race out of nowhere a decade ago. It can happen. Pastrana won’t be driving a slug. It’s not a rocket ship but rocket ships don’t exist at Daytona. Pastrana has plenty of stock car racing experience. He knows what he is doing. His team — Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin’s 23 XI Racing — know what they are doing. There is a very good chance that the JGR Toyotas work together with Pastrana’s team. If he can be fortunate enough to avoid the carnage, then Pastrana has just as good of a shot as anyone in the end — but with much longer odds.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.