2021 Daytona 500 betting preview: Denny Hamlin is the favorite as he goes for 3 in a row

·4 min read

2021 Daytona 500

Sunday, Feb. 14, 3 p.m. ET (Fox)

2020 winner: Denny Hamlin

Betting on a NASCAR race is one of the trickiest propositions in all of sports betting. There are so many drivers capable of winning a race and innumerable variables that can impact a driver’s chances of winning.

Especially in the Daytona 500. NASCAR’s biggest race is also one of its most treacherous to pick a winner simply because of the big crashes that can strike at nearly any time. A driver can get taken out in a crash that isn’t of his doing from the lead or from last.

With the 2021 Daytona 500 coming up on Sunday, here’s some help if you’re looking to put some money down.

Brad Keselowski (2) and Denny Hamlin (11) race side by side through Turn 4 during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin are two of the favorites for Sunday's race. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

The odds on Sunday’s race from BetMGM.

The favorites

Denny Hamlin (+800)

Chase Elliott ( +1000)

Joey Logano (+1000)

Ryan Blaney (+1000)

Brad Keselowski (+1400)

William Byron (+1400)

The favorites are about who you’d expect if you’re a NASCAR fan. Hamlin is going for his third straight Daytona 500 win and fourth in six years. Elliott is the defending Cup Series champion. Logano is always up front at Daytona and Talladega. Blaney has won at Talladega in each of the past two seasons. Byron won the last Daytona oval race. Keselowski is one of the most accomplished drivers in the field without a 500 title.

Among this group, it’s hard to bet against Hamlin, though no driver has ever won three consecutive Daytona 500s. While Hamlin has established himself as the best driver at Talladega and Daytona, he’s also liable to get taken out in a crash through no fault of his own. That goes for any driver on this list.

Good mid-tier value

Matt DiBenedetto (+3000)

Ryan Newman (+5000)

Erik Jones (+6600)

There’s a lot to like among this group if you want to take some chances here. DiBenedetto has been better at Daytona and Talladega than his stats suggest (three top 10s in 23 starts). With a Penske-supplied car that will likely be very strong, he should be a threat to run up front.

Newman was a few hundred yards away from winning the 500 a year ago before his horrific crash. A win would be an incredible comeback story and he could be in the mix at the end if he hangs back for the first three-quarters of the race like he’s apt to do.

Jones joins Richard Petty Motorsports for 2021. Both he and the team have run well at Daytona. He should have a fast car too — and if you’re going to bet on Jones at all in 2021, you should do it at either Daytona or Talladega.

Don’t bet these drivers

Ross Chastain (+2000)

Austin Cindric (+4000)

Chastain’s odds are way too low for someone with just one top-10 finish in 79 Cup starts taking over a car that severely underperformed in 2020. While Chastain should flash some speed at times at Chip Ganassi Racing this season, betting on a win in his first race with the team with those relatively low odds isn’t a worthy proposition.

Cindric will be in a Penske-prepared car for his attempt at the 500. But he’s not guaranteed to be in the race. He has to get in via qualifying on Wednesday or via the Duel races on Thursday. If you are going to bet him, wait until he’s in the race. And even then, it’s probably wise to look outside of a driver potentially making his first Cup Series start.

Looking for a long shot?

Anthony Alfredo (+50000)

Alfredo is also making his first career Cup Series start. And he’s raced just 32 times combined in the Truck and Xfinity Series. He’s not going to win the Daytona 500. If he does, it may be the biggest upset in race history.

But here’s why he’s a driver you should put a buck on if you’re throwing a Hail Mary. Alfredo’s odds are worse or the same as multiple drivers who aren’t even entered in Sunday’s race and drivers who will be in far worse equipment. Alfredo is guaranteed a starting spot with Front Row Motorsports and the team’s Daytona and Talladega cars are going to be able to keep up with the pack just fine. There’s no reason why he should be last among all drivers on the board.

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