NASCAR:  Daytona 500, The Great American Race, on Feb. 26
2012 Daytona 500 Free Picks

Even if your parents drove a Pinto or Yugo (I’m jealous if you don’t remember what a Yugo was!), there were two races in the United States that had nothing to do with equines that you knew about as a kid.  The first was the Indianapolis 500.  The second was the Daytona 500.

Nowadays, there’s only one race that every child in America knows, that’s the Daytona 500.  The popularity of NASCAR has exploded to such great heights that the Daytona 500 is arguably as popular as the Kentucky Derby.  It’s called The Great American Race.  NASCAR is a sport that derived from moonshiners outrunning cops during Prohibition.  Before moonshining, there was no stock car driving.  Then, in 1947, Bill France Sr., who resided in Daytona Beach, Florida, organized a meeting to discuss issues facing stock card driving.  Out of that meeting arose NASCAR.

With an amazing history behind it, is there any doubt that winning the Daytona 500 is at the top of every NASCAR driver’s bucket list? The Daytona 500 also offers a chance for NASCAR sportsbook betting handicappers to make a sweet score on the race.  Underdogs have won the Daytona 500 in three out of the past four runnings:  Ryan Newman in 2008, Jamie McMurray in 2010 and Trevor Bayne in 2011.  Even Matt Kenseth, who won the race in 2009, went off at overlaid odds.

There’s definitely money to be made wagering on the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26.  Let’s get right to the Contenders, Top Underdogs, and Pretenders as well as a Wagering Strategy for The Great American Race.

 

Daytona 500

When:  Feb. 26 at 12 pm ET

Where:  Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida

Past history isn’t always an indication of future success at Daytona.  Dale Earnhardt Jr., the +800 favorite, hasn’t won the race since 2004.  Jimmie Johnson last won the Daytona 500 in 2006 and Tony Stewart has never won the Daytona 500.

Contenders

Carl Edwards +1200 - - Jump on the betting odds, NASCAR handicappers.  The man has already secured the pole for Sunday’s race, finished second in the Daytona 500 to Trevor Bayne in 2011 and finished second in the Sprint Cup Standings to Tony Stewart last season.  He’s ready to win the Daytona 500.

Kyle Busch +1000 - - He won the Budweiser Shootout on Feb. 18, and has five total Top 5 finishes at Daytona International Speedway.  Kyle should solidify himself as Joe Gibbs’ top racer this season and he’s maturing more and more every year.  He’s got a legitimate shot to win on Sunday.

Jimmie Johnson +1500 - - Jimmie’s streak of winning Sprint Cup Championships ended in 2011.  No worries!  Hendrick Motorsports, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. also drive for Hendrick, is still the most talented outfit in NASCAR.  JJ should bounce back big time this season and the +1500 odds to win the Daytona 500 make him a nice overlay in the contenders’ category.

Tony Stewart +1000 - - It’s well-known that Smoke wants to win the Daytona 500 as badly as Donald Trump wants real hair.  The man created his own team with Margaret Haas, Stewart-Haas Racing, just a couple of years ago meaning that it took Tony about 730 days to win a Sprint Cup title as a driver/owner.  Uh, yeah, Smoke knows what he’s doing.

 

Top Underdogs

Marcos Ambrose +5000 - - The man could secure a Top 10 starting position for The Great American Race after the Duels later this week.  That will put him in the hunt.  He’s never had success at Daytona but that’s why he’s at +5000.  For $10 bones, you could win a stunning $500.  That’s cool, right?

Juan Pablo Montoya +3000 - - Had a horrible 2011, but he did finish 6th in the Daytona 500 last year and the odds are way north of where they should be.

A.J. Allmendinger +2500 - - A.J. finished 11th in the Daytona 500 last season.  He could be this year’s Trevor Bayne.

Mark Martin +4000 - - Eventually, Hendrick Motorsports’ amazing connections and deep pockets are going to help the old man of NASCAR start winning races again.  Why not consider a wager on Double-M to take the checkered flag this Sunday in Florida?

 

Pretenders

Dale Earnhardt Jr. +800 - - He’s not really a “pretender”, per se, because he does have a shot, but he’s the only driver in the online sportsbook going off at less than double-digit odds and he didn’t secure the pole, like he did last year, leading me to believe that he’s an underlay in the race.  At +1200, Edwards is a much, much better pick.

Jeff Gordon +1000 - - His 2011 wasn’t awful, but Gordo hasn’t won the Daytona 500 since 2005.  The odds simply don’t justify a wager on JG to take home the trophy on Feb. 26.
Jamie McMurray +1500 - - Sure, McMurray won the 2010 Daytona 500, but like I wrote above, past history doesn’t always ensure future success.  I’d expect at least +2500 odds on McMurray to win this race before considering backing him, and I’m not seeing it.

 

Wagering Strategy

The Daytona 500 comes around only once a year.  So, I’m going to double up on my usual NASCAR race bankroll, from $100 to $200, to wager on the race.

 

$60 to win on Carl Edwards

Potential Return = $720

 

$50 to win on Kyle Busch

Potential Return = $500

 

$25 to win on Tony Stewart

Potential Return = $250

 

$25 to win on Jimmie Johnson

Potential Return = $375

 

$10 to win on A.J. Allmendinger

Potential Return = $250

 

$10 to win on Marcose Ambrose

Potential Return = $500

 

$10 to win on Juan Pablo Montoya

Potential Return = $300

 

$10 to win on Mark Martin

Potential Return = $400

 

Total Investment = $200

 

Good luck!