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The Daytona 500 starts off the 2022 NASCAR season in grand fashion this Sunday afternoon. It’s the most prestigious race in the sport and is coveted by all of the drivers as a career-making victory. Bettors want the big win on race day as well, and we’re here to help out by providing you with an in-depth Daytona 500 betting preview.

There are very few sports that start off their season with the most important event, but that’s the case in NASCAR. It’s a huge race that is not only a major prize in itself, but is also often a tone-setter for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship race. This Sunday’s action at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida, will be watched by thousands on site and millions on television.

One of the things that make betting the Daytona 500 so tricky is the fact that it is the first event of the year. A lot of things could have changed in the more than three months since these drivers last faced each other. Just because a driver dominated last season, it doesn’t mean that they’ll come firing out of the gate with success.

On top of that, you have to consider the fact that anything can happen to upset the apple cart in an auto race. In last year’s Daytona 500, Michael McDowell was tabbed with odds of over 100 to 1 at many gambling sites. But he benefitted from being in the right place at the right time when a crash wiped out several top competitors and ended up with a stunning victory.

What can we expect from this year’s race? To set the table, we’ll explore what’s happened in recent races as well as taking a look at the 2021 NASCAR season as a whole. We’ll then look at the odds of the top drivers at top legitimate sports betting sites to see if there are any that stand out as good value bets to win Sunday’s big race.

Timing Your Daytona 500 Bets

For the most part, the field of 40 for Daytona is close to set, with a couple of spots for wild-card types not affiliated with the top teams. But what we don’t know yet are the positions from which the top drivers will start. That will come to pass as qualifying takes place throughout the week, starting with Wednesday’s main qualifiers and closing out with Thursday’s Bluegreen Vacation Duels.

As a result, you have two choices on how to proceed.

You can wager before the post positions are set. If you do that, you’re going into your wagers without crucial information, but you’re also likely to get much more value throughout the field before the odds change to match the positioning.

Another way to go about it would be to wait until the starting grid is all set. The positive with doing it in this way is that you’ll know not only where each driver is starting, but also what their speeds were on the same track they’ll be taking on Sunday. But the oddsmakers at top gambling sites will also have made adjustments, which means it will be harder for you to get the same kind of value by waiting.

Recent Daytona 500 Results

As we mentioned, last year’s Daytona 500 was one of the biggest shockers in race history. Michael McDowell’s win was largely a testament to the fact that anything can happen in the course of those 500 miles. The fact that McDowell, who will compete once again at long odds (currently +30000) this year, didn’t win another NASCAR race all year long speaks to the flukish nature of the results.

The driver with the best Daytona 500 results of those who will be competing is Denny Hamlin. Hamlin has won this race three times before, including back-to-back jobs in 2019 and 2020.

Note:

He and Joe Gibbs racing have some excellent history in the race, so they’ll be brimming with confidence as the current third choice on the Daytona 500 odds board (+750.)

Other past winners competing on Sunday include the following:

  • Austin Dillon (2018)
  • Kurt Busch (2017)
  • Joey Logano (2015)
  • Kevin Harvick (2007)

It’s hard to say if having the winning experience makes a big difference at Daytona, where things change so rapidly. The fact that those other guys (besides Hamlin) haven’t been able to follow it up doesn’t speak well to the chances of a repeat. But it’s still probably better than long-time drivers who have a drought.

NASCAR Championship Recent Results

Take a look at how the NASCAR championship shook out last season:

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Martin Truex, Jr.
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Chase Elliott
  5. Kevin Harvick

Now let’s take a look at how the last five years of championships have played out:

  • 2021: Kyle Larson
  • 2020: Chase Elliott
  • 2019: Kyle Busch
  • 2018: Joey Logano
  • 2017: Martin Truex, Jr.

It’s interesting to note that there have been five different championship winners in the last five years (only Kyle Busch, who also won in 2015, has won twice.) In addition, you’ll note that of the Top 5 finishers in last year’s Cup standings, Hamlin and Harvick were able to sneak into that group even though they haven’t recently won a title (Hamlin never has, while Harvick did win a title in 2014.)

What does that all mean?

It means that it is difficult to find trends among the NASCAR drivers that have been sticking with any consistency. That’s good and bad news for bettors.

The bad news is that it can be hard to predict a winner from year to year, meaning that this bet is going to have a bit more volatility than others. But the good news is that it also means that the odds should be juicy for a lot of drivers who have a real shot to win. You can find your value on a Daytona 500 bet with little trouble if you make the right choice.

Cars and the Daytona 500

One other way to approach betting the 2022 Daytona 500 is to do it through the different car models that will be competing. Once again, Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford will be battling it out for bragging rights. And, just as is the case with the drivers, it’s hard to glean any definitive information from what’s happened with the winning makes of cars in the recent past.

Take a look at the results for the past ten Daytona 500 races in terms of the winning cars:

  • 2012: Ford
  • 2013: Chevrolet
  • 2014: Chevrolet
  • 2015: Ford
  • 2016: Toyota
  • 2017: Ford
  • 2018: Chevrolet
  • 2019: Toyota
  • 2020: Toyota
  • 2021: Ford

In case you’re counting, that’s four for Ford, and three each for Chevy and Toyota. It doesn’t get much more balanced than that. The days of giving a big edge to the Chevrolets (they once won 15 of 19 Daytona 500’s from 1989 to 2007) are long gone.

In this year’s race, the breakdown for the cars eligible for the Daytona 500 looks like this:

  • 17 Chevrolet
  • 16 Ford
  • 8 Toyota

We’ll see if quantity also means quality on Race Day. But the past results show us that there isn’t much of an edge one way or the other in terms of the cars. Again, that means bettors will have to take a stab more than they might like to do, even if it helps preserve the value.

Top Competitors for the 2022 Daytona 500

Let’s take a look at the drivers gaining the most attention at top betting sites in terms of their Daytona 500 betting odds. These are the guys that the oddsmakers feel have the best chance of making noise on Sunday. It should be interesting to see how those odds change once the field is set along with the post positions.

Kyle Larson (+350)

Kyle Larson NASCAR

Larson ended last season on one of the hottest streaks that the sport has seen in quite some time, rolling to wins in four of the last five races. That clinched his first-ever NASCAR Cup championship, and he’ll be looking to add his first-ever Daytona 500 to that as well. It’s a bit concerning that a driver who won the points title hasn’t won the Daytona 500 to start the next year since Dale Jarrett pulled off the feat all the way back in 2000.

Chase Elliott (+550)

Elliott is coming off a fourth-place finish in last year’s Cup standings.

He didn’t win after May, however, and this is a bet that’s all about winning.

Still, as a guy who is rising fast in the sport, he could be primed to make a big splash on the biggest stage Sunday afternoon.

Denny Hamlin (+750)

The three-time Daytona champ would like to get his fourth victory, as it would move him to a tie for second in terms of most victories in the race. He would match Cale Yarborough with the win, albeit he’d still be three back of Richard Petty. Coming off a third-place finish in last year’s Cup, he is clearly still at the top of his game.

William Byron (+800)

Byron is trying to shake off a poor record in the 500, as he has coughed up great post positions in each of the last three years, including the pole in 2019. He started last year off as a Top 10 machine but trailed off as the season progressed. The youngster is predicted by many to enjoy a career season, and if he does, Daytona could prove to be the jumping-off point.

Kyle Busch (+800)

Kyle Busch

Busch has two Cup championships to his credit, but has come up empty in the Daytona 500 in 16 attempts. He did have a second back in 2019, so it’s not like he hasn’t been close. A multiple-race winner a year ago, he has the experience to make those 8 to 1 odds quite fetching for those who are looking for value from their Daytona 500 bets.

Martin Truex Jr. (+1000)

Truex is yet another member of the Joe Gibbs racing contingent, as solid an outfit as there is in the sport. He has never won the Daytona 500 and hasn’t been closer than 13th over his last five tries. But he was second-best last year in the Cup standings behind Larson, so the timing could be right for him to have his afternoon in the sun in this race.

Joey Logano (+1000)

Logano couldn’t follow up a win in March of last year with another in the Series for the rest of 2021.

Further Info:

At one point, he had five straight Top 10 finishes in the Daytona 500, starting off with his memorable victory in 2015.

9th overall in last year’s Cup standings, he has proven his ability to rise to the occasion in the biggest races time and again.

Ryan Blaney (+1200)

Ryan Blaney

Blaney was fourth among drivers with three wins a year ago, finishing 7th overall in the standings. Just two years ago, he finished second in the Daytona 500 behind Denny Hamlin despite a mediocre starting point. That makes him intriguing as a value pick since he won’t be bothered as much by post position, regardless of what that turns out to be.

Kevin Harvick (+1400)

Now with 10 career Top 10s in the Daytona 500, Harvick is a guy you can feel pretty confident will be in the mix.

He’s also coming off another strong overall season, finishing 5th in the Cup standings.

Count him out at your own peril, yet many people will do just that because he’s not exactly a hot name anymore.

Ryan Bowman (+1600)

Bowman owns the qualifying rounds in Daytona, as he’s started in either the 1st or 2nd post position in each of the last four years. Yet he’s done no better than 11th in those races. You could say that he’s due, especially considering that his four Cup wins a year ago were second on the circuit behind only Kyle Larson.

Conclusion

Summing it up, this is shaping up to be another wide-open Daytona 500. While the winner might not be 100 to 1 like last year, an upset of major proportions shouldn’t be ruled out. Look for the checkered flag to go to somebody a bit surprising, meaning that you should be able to win a lot for a little bet at top gambling sites.