Daytona 500 Picks & Predictions: Throwing Darts Blind Folded at Daytona

The skies have finally cleared, “fingers crossed it stays this way”, and the Great American Race is set to go green. That means it’s time to make some Daytona 500 picks and get our annual NASCAR betting expedition underway.

HA.. HA.. HA.. “predictions” at Daytona is a cruel joke. There is no such thing on this 2.5-mile super speedway that promotes bumping, blocking, and brings us the always anticipated “Big One”.

All that said, it’s NASCAR’s Super Bowl so just like last Sunday, we’re here to have some fun, and hopefully keep the losses to a minimum. And hey, maybe we’ll even get lucky and win a bet or two. So without further ado, here are my 2024 Daytona 500 Picks, Predictions, and Best Bet.

Daytona 500 Picks & Predictions

I like to say that making Daytona 500 picks and especially trying to predict the winner, is like trying to hit a bullseye in darts blind-folded. And the last three years have only added to this belief with all three winners having been 30-1 or longer at some point leading up to their respective races. So watch out, it’s dart throwing time.

Daytona 500 Odds

Christopher Bell to win +2000 (DraftKings) .25u

The Bell has already rung once this weekend in Daytona with Christopher claiming the checkered in Duel no.2 on Thursday night. Toyota’s looked great on track in their new body styles wininng both Duel races and posting the fastest times during practice on Friday.

Bell has been very competitive at Daytona in the past and although we haven’t seen a Duel winner take home the Harley J. Earl trophy that same weekend since 2012. If what we saw leading up to today is any indication, I expect to see Bell and multiple other Toyotas competing for the Daytona 500 win. 

Austin Dillon Top Chevy +1400 (Caesars) .25u

I’m trying to hit a moving dart board with this one but I feel the odds are a little too long and offer some potential value.

Corey LaJoie to finish on lead lap +100 (BetRivers) 1u

Ole Corey LaJoie… We’re talking about a driver who has the 2nd best average finish at Daytona since 2019 and just one, yeah, that’s right, just ONE finish worse than 16th here since jumping in the no.7 Spire car in 2021.

More impressively, LaJoie has finished the Daytona 500 worse than 24th just ONCE during his seven appearances. He’s one of only five drivers to have been RAF (running at finish) of at least 8 of the last 10 races at Daytona. And only one driver (Joey Logano), has completed a higher percentage of the possible laps at the World Center of Racing.

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Corey has seven Great American Race apperances and finished on the lead lap in the last four of them. Over his 14 total races at Daytona, he has had LLF’s (lead lap finishes) in exactly 50% of them, with two finishes just 1 lap down.

These odds imply there’s a 50% chance of this hitting but considering his recent successes at Daytona, especially in the 500 with Spire, I think we’re getting a little bit of value here. Lajoie is a machine at Daytona International Speedway, especially during the 500, which is why I bet him pretty much every time we visit this track. And what makes this my favorite bet among all these Daytona 500 picks.

Michael McDowell -110 Over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (DraftKings) 1.1u

No matter the unpredictability here, I’m still trying to find value with my Daytona 500 picks. I think these odds fit that mold and aren’t just wrong, but wrong by a lot. Not only should McDowell be the favorite here, he should probably be pinned against someone higher up the Daytona 500 odds board.

We recently found out that Front Row Motorsports is now in alliance with Team Penske which thrusts McDowell and his team up a rank in terms of equipment grade. And should promote more teamwork between he and the Penske garage that boasts three really good to great super speedway racers.

Feb 14, 2024; Daytona Beach, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Michael McDowell (34) during qualifying for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This news, along with the fact that Stenhouse Jr. is driving for the one car team of JTG Daugherty Racing, should have pushed these odds well in Michael’s favor.

Ironically, McDowell has significantly shorter odds than Stenhouse in pretty much every placement market on DraftKings and at pretty much every single book offering Daytona 500 odds. That info alone means these odds should be way shorter than they are, and I haven’t even dove into their head to head history at Daytona which also leans in McD’s favor as you can see below. 

StatMichael McDowellRicky Stenhouse
500 H2H (5)41
Avg. finish16.621.4
LLF (Lead Lap Finish)72
RAF (Running at Finish)86

2024 Daytona 500 Best Bet

Unpredictability, chaos, and an exciting race/finish

Austin Dillon (3), William Byron (24) and others crash in overtime during Sunday's Daytona 500. Big One: Nigel Cook/News-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Sorry, I can’t in good conscience give out a “best bet” for the most unpredictable and crazy race. The fact that even the best active driver at Daytona and quite possibly superspeedways as a whole, Denny Hamlin, only finishes on the lead lap here 64% of the time says it all.

No matter the amount of research or data, me or anyone else pulls for this race, it can all go up in flames quicker than it takes them to fire up the engines. So if you’re so inclined, find your favorite Daytona 500 picks and make a few small fun bets. Then sit back and relax as the 2024 NASCAR season gets underway with the Great American Race!

written by

Brian is just a regular guy whose first passion was sports. He's either been playing, watching, now working in, and recreationally betting on sports for over 30 years. His favorite sports to bet are Football (NFL/NCAAF), College Basketball, and the NASCAR Cup Series. In addition to being a content contributor here at Bleacher Nation, Brian co-hosts the Angle of Pursuit Nascar Betting Podcast , & is also the FantasyLifeApp breaking news moderator/manager.

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