Daytona 500 Odds, Top Bets & Ultimate 2021 Wagering Guide
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It’s the first, the biggest and the highest-paying NASCAR race of the year. It’s also a high holy day for NASCAR betting, as auto racing bettors wake from their long winter hibernation and emerge into the bright sunlight of Daytona Beach, Florida.
For serious and casual auto racing bettors alike, the Daytona 500 can prove irresistible. The Super Bowl is in the rearview mirror, and there’s no other marquee sporting event until the NCAA Tournament in March. With a Sunday afternoon timeslot, network television coverage and a week of on-track events as a lead-in, Daytona stands as a loud, colorful beacon that commands both attention and action.
And betting on the Daytona 500 can be as simple as you want: Which driver will take the checkered flag? NASCAR, though, is a sport loaded with nuance, and wagering options extend well beyond picking individual race winners.
Here, then, is your betting guide to the Great American Race, beginning with how it stands apart in NASCAR for reasons beyond money and prestige. First, the latest 2021 Daytona 500 winner odds.
|Martin Truex Jr.||+1800||+550|
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What Makes Daytona Different?
The two biggest tracks in NASCAR, Daytona and Talladega in Alabama, are so fast that cars can go airborne in the event of a crash. To try to prevent that, NASCAR limits horsepower at those venues. For years, this was done with something called a restrictor plate; now it’s achieved with a piece called a tapered spacer.
The result of that horsepower reduction? The cars bunch up in packs, making it easier for drivers to draft to the front. That puts many more drivers in the mix to win or grab a top-three finish – something bettors should know keenly. Drivers on lesser-funded teams that you’d never expect to see in contention at Atlanta or Bristol can be right near the front in the final laps at Daytona.
The rub is that wrecks at the NASCAR season opener at Daytona can be huge, with so many cars running in such tight quarters. Even the best drivers can crash if someone goes sideways in front of them. There’s a degree of randomness at Daytona that doesn’t exist at most other races, and it can impact who gets knocked out as well as who wins.
But Aren’t Some Drivers Really Good At Daytona?
Indeed. Despite the unpredictability at Daytona, some drivers are flat-out aces there. That includes Denny Hamlin, who entered 2021 with back-to-back wins in the 500. Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch are both drafting masters who are regulars in the top 10.
Then there are guys such as Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who owns a win in Daytona’s less-prestigious summer race and has an excellent track record there overall. Austin Dillon, a surprise Daytona 500 winner in 2018, owns top-10s in half of his career starts. Bubba Wallace, who in 2021 will wheel the car for a new team co-owned by Hamlin and Michael Jordan, has a second and a fifth.
Even a lesser-known driver like Michael McDowell – one of those guys who just has a knack for Daytona – can jump up and steal a high finish. Bettors should be aware of who’s good at Daytona and who’s not. Because if a driver knows how to get up front, he can leave all the chaos behind.
How Should I Bet on the Daytona 500?
The most straightforward wager is taking a driver to win. For the 2021 race, the odds favorite is Hamlin at +700 (according to DraftKings), which means he’d earn bettors $700 for every $100 wagered. But potential winners can also be found with more favorable betting odds, such as Harvick at +1300, Kurt Busch at +1800, or even a longer shot like Dillon at +2400.
Bettors can look beyond previous winners and get creative. Drivers such as Wallace or Stenhouse might be a better wager for a top-3 finish, where they can still carry favorable odds in the +600 or +700 range. And many oddsmakers take wagers on top-10 finishes, where it’s perhaps most prudent to take a flier on the likes of McDowell or Tyler Reddick, who’d be also-rans most anywhere else.
Bettors might also wager on the highest-finishing driver within an individual manufacturer, which manufacturer will win the race, or which team will win. At some tracks, it can be tempting to load up on one driver – taking him to win, his manufacturer to win and his team to win. Daytona, though, is not one of those places. For the Daytona 500, diversifying your portfolio is smartest.
Bettors can also wager on drivers head-to-head, or in a group — say, Hamlin vs. Harvick, or the highest finisher among Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. – with each driver carrying different odds. The bigger the race, the more bets that will be available, so for the Daytona 500 it’s easy to find enough options to spread your bankroll around.
From there, it’s just a matter of visiting the array of legal online sportsbooks available at Bookies.com, checking the options in your state, and shopping around for the best NASCAR odds that fit the bets you want to make.
Best Bets for the 2021 Daytona 500
Kevin Harvick to Win (+1600, BetMGM)
He didn’t win the NASCAR Cup title in 2020, but Harvick was still the best driver with a series-best nine victories. He has crashed in two of his last three Daytona 500s, but when he’s been running at the end, his average finish is 7.7 dating back to his victory in 2007. This is a savvy driver with a fantastic crew chief who undoubtedly enters 2021 with a chip on his shoulder given how last year ended, and these are attractive betting odds.
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Denny Hamlin Top 3 Finish (+250, FOX Bet)
At Daytona, there’s nobody better right now than the back-to-back defending champion, who since 2014 has just one finish worse than fourth in the 500. Given the unpredictable nature of the race, winning three straight is asking a lot. Nobody’s ever done it, and the race dates back to 1959. Still, expect him to be in the mix in this year's race.
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Ryan Blaney Top 3 Finish (+350, Unibet)
An underrated great NASCAR driver at Daytona is Blaney, who twice has finished second in the Daytona 500, including last season. Like many other young drivers, the 27-year-old has been in his share of crashes. But he also knows how to draft to the front and has a proven Penske car beneath him.
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Ford Winning Manufacturer (+170, Resorts)
The blue oval boys haven’t won the Daytona 500 since 2017, but Ford boasts a pool of capable drivers that’s deeper than what any other manufacturer can present. Harvick, Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola — all of those guys can win. By comparison, Chevy’s drivers outside of Chase Elliott and Kurt Busch are still largely unproven, and Toyota is essentially just the Joe Gibbs Racing team.
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Denny Hamlin Top Toyota (+240, DraftKings)
Martin Truex Jr. is the odds favorite among the Toyota drivers, but make no mistake — the best bet in that camp remains Hamlin, who over the past 10 races at Daytona has collected more points than anyone else. That track record, plus that relative value, equal a no-brainer.
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Kurt Busch Top Chevrolet (+850, DraftKings)
Casual bettors will gravitate toward reigning series champion Elliott, though he has a history of crashing in the 500 and has never finished better than 14th. The value pick here is the veteran Busch, a former Daytona 500 winner who exceeded expectations last season and might be the savviest drafter in the sport.
Bubba Wallace Top 10 (+140, Unibet)
Wallace moves this season to a new car co-owned by Hamlin and Michael Jordan, and will drive a Toyota that should be a step up from the Richard Petty Motorsports car he piloted last year. A very good superspeedway driver, Wallace is the best choice among those who carry a positive moneyline for a top-10 finish.
2021 Daytona 500 Time, Date & TV
Race: Daytona 500
When: Sunday, Feb. 14, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Defending champion: Denny Hamlin (+700)