The sports world shifts from one of the year’s major events – Super Bowl LVII – to another – the Daytona 500. It’s the most prestigious of all NASCAR events and is the Cup Series’ first event of the new season.
For bettors, that means opportunity and there is plenty of it in this year’s race. One driver does stand head and shoulders above the rest of the pack.
Ryan Blaney has owned both Daytona and Talladaga recently. In the four combined races at the two tracks last year, Blaney led the most laps and had the best average finish position. Over the last 15 races at the two speedways, Blaney’s average finish position is 6.1. That includes two second-place finishes and three wins.
Breaking it down even further, Blaney led on 8.4 percent of all the laps in the four races last season. This is important as racing at speedways like Daytona and Talladega can be challenging due to their superspeedway status. Blaney led 90 of the 737 combined laps at the two speedways last year. That is more than any other driver in the circuit.
When you calculate Blaney’s win rate of 8.4 percent of laps led, his fair value for this Sunday’s race would be in the range of +1085. Blaney currently sits at +1200 to win this year’s Daytona 500 at BetUS.com
Blaney’s failure to win in 2022 was a terrible accident. At the Daytona 500 last year, he was just shy of taking home the victory thanks to a late block from teammate Austin Cindric (the eventual winner) and smooth driving from Blaney (fourth).
Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson now top the board at +1000 to win (odds from Everygame.eu). Larson was favored to win the pole, but was beaten by Alex Bowman. Larson will start in the front row, which will give him an opportunity to improve his seventh place standing in the NASCAR Cup series.
In 36 starts, Larson has three wins and 13 top-5 finishes. He is sixth overall in laps led, just a single lap behind Blaney.
Elliott is fourth in the Cup standings with five wins in 36 starts. Elliott has finished in the top-5 12 times and in the top-10 20 times. Elliott ranks No. 1 overall in laps led (854).
Because of the nature of speedways like Talladega and Daytona, the best measure of a driver’s performance on these tracks is laps led. This stat isn’t perfect, but you can use the percentage of laps led as a gauge for a driver’s probability of winning.
In the case of Aric Almirola, we find a strong longshot for this weekend’s race. At races at Daytona and Talladega since 2019, Almirola has led roughly 3.4 percent of the time. That would equate to odds of about +2900 at SportsBetting.ag
Almirola opened around +5000 and is now down to +3500 at various sportsbooks. There is plenty of value on him since he placed fifth at Daytona last year and he led the most laps at Talladega in last year’s playoffs.