In most sports, the highlight event takes place at the end of the season. In football, you have the Super Bowl. In baseball, you have the World Series. Meanwhile, the Champions League final signals the end of the domestic soccer season in Europe. But in NASCAR, you have the Daytona 500 to kick off the Monster Energy Cup.
Widely labelled as the Super Bowl of stock car racing, the Daytona 500 is one of the most famous races on the planet. Formula One has made a small impact in the United States, but NASCAR remains the staple motorsports competition on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the Daytona 500 ahead of Sunday’s big race.
Brad Keselowski to Claim Maiden Success?
NASCAR fans will not be surprised to see Keselowski at the top of the betting. According to the latest odds, he is +800 to claim a first Daytona 500 victory. Keselowski completed 102 laps in the Daytona 500 last year before he was knocked out after a multi-car collision. Keselowski will be looking to make a real statement this weekend.
The Team Penske star recorded his best Daytona finish back in 2014, claiming third spot after an excellent race. Keselowski has been a huge hit during his racing career, winning five times at Talladega and this could be his year to finally notch a memorable Daytona 500 victory.
2015 Winner Joey Logano Will Be In Contention
Joey Logano is also priced at +800 in the Daytona 500 betting odds and Team Penske will be confident that one of their drivers will emerge victorious this weekend. Logano’s win back in 2015 came in dramatic fashion, beating his rivals after a green-white-checkered overtime restart.
To be fair, Logano has always been one of the most naturally gifted drivers on the NASCAR circuit. In 2009, he became the youngest-ever race winner in the history of the Monster Energy Cup series at just 19 years old. A decade on and Logano still holds this particular record - write him off at your peril.
Willian Byron to Defy the Odds from Pole?
The odds are stacked against William Byron. Valued at +3000, he will come under pressure from lights out and it is hard to put too much faith in the Hendrick Motorsports youngster. This is Byron’s first career pole in NASCAR’s top series and that is an achievement in itself.
No driver has won the Daytona 500 from pole since the great Dale Jarrett in 2000 – chances are Byron is going to struggle on Sunday. Teammate Alex Bowman, priced at +2500 for the win this weekend, started on pole last year but finished a lowly 17th. The writing is on the wall for Byron; he is talented but it is going to be tough.
Second Victory Unlikely for 2018 Champion Dillon
Austin Dillon is the defending champion but he is priced at +3300 to retain his crown. His win last year was emotional, with Dillon driving the No. 3 Chevrolet that had been piloted by the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. Dillon’s win came exactly 17 years after Dale Sr. was killed in a crash during the Daytona 500.
To say that Dillon’s win in 2018 was a shock is an understatement. He was only the second driver in history to win the Daytona 500 after leading only the final lap. With no repeat Daytona 500 winner for over 20 years, punters may look elsewhere ahead of the 2019 event. Despite winning last year, he is a +3300 chance for a reason.
Fingers Crossed for an Entertaining But Safe Race
Emotions will be high this weekend and NASCAR fans will be hoping for an exciting race in 2019. First and foremost, safety is paramount and supporters will have everything crossed for the drivers to emerge unscathed from this weekend’s events.
Picking a Daytona 500 winner is always difficult but your 2019 champion could come from the list above. So what are you waiting for; make your pick, sit back and relax and watch what could be a memorable renewal of this world-famous race. It is one of the highlights of the American sports calendar and should be appreciated by all.