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Daytona 500 Predictions: The Enigma of the Great American Race

Written by: Reid Spencer
Updated February 16, 2024
8 min read
  • The Toyota contingent looks racy after sweeping the Duel 150s.

  • Denny Hamlin can join elite company with a Daytona 400 win.

  • Kyle Larson has a fast car, and he’s hungry for a Daytona victory.

Daytona 500 Betting Odds

Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook. Click the odds below to head over to DraftKings and place your bets.

Joey Logano+1000
Denny Hamlin+1000
Brad Keselowski+1100
Ryan Blaney+1200
Kyle Larson+1200
Kyle Busch+1400
Christopher Bell+1400
Chase Elliott+1400
Bubba Wallace+1600
Chris Buescher+1600
William Byron+1800

Our Picks for the Daytona 500

Daytona 500 Prediction Nascar Cup

Daytona 500 Predictions

After Redemption in the Duels, the Toyotas Look More Than Capable

After Wednesday’s time trials at Daytona International Speedway, the brass at Toyota Racing Development was concerned—and with good reason.

While Ford drivers Joey Logano and Michael McDowell locked out the front row by topping the speed chart, the best Toyota, driven by Erik Jones, was 22nd fastest.

Things turned on a dime on Thursday when Toyota drivers Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell swept the two Bluegreen Vacations Duel 150-mile qualifying races and put their Camrys in position to challenge for the victory in the Great American Race.

Clearly, the Toyotas lacked speed during single-car runs on Wednesdays but raced exceptionally well in close quarters with other cars on Thursday.

Denny Hamlin Can Elevate His Status with Fourth Daytona 500 Win

So if the Toyotas are quick in the draft, which Camry driver is most likely to take the checkered flag on Sunday.

A pool of drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series garage would lead to an overwhelming conclusion: Denny Hamlin resides at the top of the pyramid when it comes to negotiating nail-biting superspeedway racing.

The proof is in the statistics. Hamlin has three Daytona 500 victories—in 2016, 2019 and 2020. No other full-time driver in Sunday’s race has more than one. Seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson has two Daytona 500 wins, but he’s now a part-timer who narrowly squeaked into the field with a last-lap pass in Thursday’s first Duel.

Hamlin is one of four drivers to have won back-to-back Daytona 500s, the others being Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, and Sterling Marlin. Only two drivers have won four or more Daytona 500s—Petty with seven and Yarborough with four.

So Hamlin already is in elite company. We just don’t think he’ll ascend any higher—not this Sunday, at least, so we’re steering clear of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver at +1000 via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Chevy Driver Kyle Larson Is Overdue for Victory on a Superspeedway

Despite starting on the front row at Daytona International Speedway four times, Kyle Larson has never fashioned a top-five finish at the track.

This year, Ford driver Joey Logano broke an 11-year streak of Chevrolets on the pole for the Daytona 500. Hendrick Motorsports drivers were the top qualifiers in eight of the last nine years.

But there’s a silver lining for Larson and his Hendrick teammates. No driver has won the Daytona 500 from the pole since Dale Jarrett accomplished the feat in 2000. That’s why we’re laying off Logano this week.

Larson was third fastest in Wednesday’s time trials but will start the Daytona 500 from 17th after being shuffled back in the last 300 yards of Thursday’s Duel.

But we like the speed in Larson’s car, and he’s due for a breakthrough on a superspeedway. Larson is a generational talent who can drive anything (he’ll also attempt the Indy 500 this year), and we think he’ll be in Victory Lane on Sunday.

At +1200 via DraftKings, he’s an attractive bet.  

How to Watch the Daytona 500

  • What: Daytona 500 NASCAR Cup Series Race

  • Where: Daytona International Speedway

  • When: Sunday, February 18, 2:30 p.m. ET

  • How to Watch: FOX

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Reid Spencer

218 Articles

Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]

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