- The 2021 Daytona 500 is set for Sunday, February 14th with the race starting at 12:30 PM EST
- Denny Hamlin has won the race in back-to-back years but no driver has ever won this race three times in a row
- Which drivers are a good bet for this Sunday? Check out the odds, analysis, and best bets below
The 2021 NASCAR season gets underway with the Daytona 500 on Sunday. As per usual, the race will take place at Daytona International Speedway with a start time of 12:30 PM EST.
Traditionally, this is a tough race to handicap, but Denny Hamlin has actually won it in two straight years. Is he the best choice here, or should bettors look elsewhere?
2021 Daytona 500 Odds
|Martin Truex Jr.||+1700|
Odds taken Feb .11 at FanDuel
Can Hamlin Three-Peat?
Hamlin has an incredible track record at Daytona International Speedway, and that includes the always-tricky Daytona 500. For him, it hasn’t been that much of a challenge; he’s won it back-to-back times and three times in the last five years. When it comes to this track overall (not just the Daytona 500), he’s finished third or better in three of his last four showings.
Taking a look further back, Hamlin has actually finished in the top six in nine of his last 14 starts here and in the top four in eight of his last 14. The 40-year-old is third in the NASCAR Cup Series odds prior to the regular tournament schedule starting.
The tricky part here is that no driver has ever won the Daytona 500 three years in a row, so history is not on his side. He’s obviously a safer play for the Top 10 prop.
Joey Logano Is Worth a Look
Anytime we’re talking about superspeedways, Joey Logano has to be in the conversation. He has four career wins on them. The challenge is that he’s fresh off a so-so year and didn’t place well in either of the Daytona races last year. He finished 26th at the Daytona 500 and then 27th in the August race.
However, if we take a look further back, Logano has actually finished in the top six at the Daytona 500 in four of his last five starts here. He always seems to get great starting positions too, posting an average starting position of 4.9 over his last seven. He’s a decent bet to contend on Sunday and possibly win.
Past Daytona 500 Winners
Pass on Chase Elliott
One driver who bettors might want to pass on is Chase Elliott, who is the defending Cup Series champion. Sure, he’s among the favorites with short odds but there is very little evidence to support that he’s a good bet to win this race. He’s finished 30th or beyond in five of his 10 Daytona starts.
Taking a look with closer detail, he only finished better than 14th once with his recent showings being 37th, 14th, 33rd, 17th, and 17th. He ranks 30th in terms of average finish among all active drivers. Also, no Cup Series champ has won the Daytona 500 (the following year after claiming the trophy) since 2000. If he was a bit of a longer shot, maybe he’d be worth a look. With such short odds, he’s a pass.