The 2024 NASCAR season begins with the Great American Race. The Daytona 500 is often referred to as NASCAR’s Super Bowl. It’s the biggest race of the season, and DraftKings Sportsbook is offering users a variety of ways to wager on the prestigious stock car racing spectacle at the 2.5-mile super speedway in Daytona. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series 2024 Daytona 500.
Daytona is a super speedway. Call it a restrictor plate race, drafting race or pack race. It doesn’t matter. The results are the same. It’s chaos. Pure unadulterated carnage. Half of the cars leave Florida on a wrecker. Fast cars don’t finish and lucky long shots end up in victory lane.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr won the 2023 Daytona 500 as a +4,000 long shot. Michael McDowell won the 2021 running of the Great American Race as a +10,000 wager. Daytona, Talladega and Atlanta provide the opportunity for DraftKings Sportsbook players to take a chance on an underdog with a big pay out.
With virtually every driver in play, let’s take a look at all of the long shots and who could be this year’s surprising hero.
Race Winner — Daytona 500
Zane Smith +6000
Young drivers with little Cup Series experience have won the Daytona 500. Trevor Bayne shocked the nation by winning the 2011 Daytona 500 a day after his 20th birthday. His Wood Brothers car was not world class, but that’s not a prerequisite. Smith won’t have the best ride in the field, but his Chevy will suffice. Spire Motorsports is technically allied with Hendrick Motorsports, and Hendrick is known to have exceptional speed at Daytona. Last but not least, Smith won the 2022 and 2023 Camping World Truck Series races at Daytona.
Corey LaJoie +6000
In his seven Cup Series seasons, LaJoie has never won a Cup Series race. That’s not surprising given that he’s always driven inferior equipment for small teams. He only has three top-5 finishes, but each of those were at super speedways and were within the last two seasons. He has four top-10 finishes in the last nine Daytona races. The odds are against him, but his odds are pretty favorable for a driver with quality pack-racing skills.
Justin Haley +6000
Technically, he’s a past Cup Series winner at Daytona. The win was fluky. It was a lightning shortened summer race at Daytona. His Xfinity Series success is a different story. It’s not fluky at all. He has two wins at Daytona and two wins at Talladega. He also earned a runner-up finish in his first Xfinity Series race at Daytona in 2019.
Race Winner — Daytona 500
Noah Gragson +5500
Cup Series super-speedway winners are favorites. Xfinity Series super-speedway winners are undervalued and have much longer odds. A win at Daytona is a win at Daytona regardless of the series. The driving is the same. The skill it takes to win a drafting race in the lower series is the same in the premier series. Gragson won at the season opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona in 2020. In 2022, he scored another plate track win at Talladega. Aside from his stats, there is a narrative that could provide extra motivation. This is Gragson’s first official race since being suspended and released by Legacy Motor Club last season. The fiery driver known to get in fights at the track doesn’t need any extra motivation, but he’ll have it for the Daytona 500.
Daniel Hermic +8000
His odds should be longer. Through 283 races in the Truck, Xfinity and Cup Series, Hemric has one win. That’s a cool 0.3% win rate. Not three percent — 0.3%. Hemric likely won’t win anywhere anymore, but if he has one shot, it’s at a super speedway. His talent may be suspect, but his car is not. Kaulig Racing dominates the super speedways in the Xfinity Series. They have yet to win a Cup Series plate race, but they know how to build a fast super-speedway car. If Hemric can get lucky — a stretch for a one-win driver — then Hemric could be another surprising Daytona 500 winner. If anything, he’s due.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.