Alliances count for a lot on the NASCAR track, which is something to keep in mind when picking an individual driver to win the fabled Daytona 500.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the +450 Daytona 500 betting favorite and Brad Keselowski is at +700 at the top of the futures board for Sunday’s race at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Earnhardt’s odds owe to his status as a two-time Daytona 500 champion and perhaps some plaintive hope that he is on the comeback trail after a 2016 season marred by post-concussion symptoms. Keselowski’s odds stem from a feeling that the Ford drivers, including those on his Team Penske such as Joey Logano (+900), have the edge in restrictor-plate racing. The two have combined to win four of the last eight restrictor-plate racings.
In contrast, while Hendrick Motorsports boasts Earnhardt, Jimmie Johnson (+1000), pole sitter Chase Elliott (+1200) and Kasey Kahne (+3300), the team has had issues handling the track at Daytona in recent times. That should give any bettor pause.
Keselowski and Logano will be counting on collaboration with Kevin Harvick (+1200), who also drives a Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing and is the favorite on the odds to win the 2017 Cup championship, during the race. Harvick does have a more enticing price. That said, Keselowski has a good record at the track, having won the July race at Daytona last season.
The SHR team also includes Kurt Busch (+2500), who is a three-time runner-up but has been an also-ran and hasn’t contended since 2011.
The race could boil down to the Ford drivers versus the Toyotas from Joe Gibbs Racing, who include Kyle Busch (+1000), defending champion Denny Hamlin (+1200), and two-time champion Matt Kenseth (+1400). Busch was third in the 2016 edition of the 500. Hamlin’s win last year was far from an anomaly since he’s been fourth or higher in four of his last five Daytonas, but no one has won back-to-back since Sterling Marlin in 1994-95.
The 2016 runner-up, Martin Truex Jr., is listed at +1400 on the 2017 Daytona 500 odds. A one-time champion worth considering, based on longshot odds alone, is Jamie McMurray (+2800) of Chip Ganassi Racing.
Danica Patrick is a +5000 longshot going into her sixth Daytona 500, but it will be her first behind the wheel of a Ford.