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Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx SupportSmall Toyota, during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/Pool via Icon Sportswire)
January 19th, 2021
The 2021 NASCAR season is still about a month away, but odds are already online for the traditional opening race – the Daytona 500 – which will be held on Feb. 14.
As usual, generous odds are available on just about every driver in the field due to the wide-open nature of superspeedway racing. Let’s discuss the chances of the top three drivers in the field according to oddsmakers – Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano – and determine whether or not each driver is worth a wager.
Anyone who says that Daytona races are a total crapshoot have clearly not seen Denny Hamlin drive over this course lately.
Denny Hamlin wins the 2019 Daytona 500. pic.twitter.com/hBH7qsG7j5— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) February 18, 2019
Denny Hamlin wins the 2019 Daytona 500. pic.twitter.com/hBH7qsG7j5
Hamlin has won two of the last four races held at the historic 2.5-mile oval and finished third in another. The No. 11 Toyota driver has taken an eye-popping three of the last four Daytona 500s, a run only equaled by the great Richard Petty, who won the 1971, 1973 and 1974 renewals of “The Great American Race.”
No active driver has led more laps at Daytona than Hamlin (530), and only Austin Dillon (15.5) has a better average finish than Hamlin (16.3) over this course (min. 15 starts). Hamlin is a deserving favorite in this spot.
Chase Elliott seeks his first ever win at Daytona. His initial 10 efforts over this course suggest that it will be a struggle.
Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott’s big crash at Daytona looked an awful lot like the wreck that collected both of them tonight at Daytona. (Wrecks spliced together for comparison’s sake) pic.twitter.com/SupoE50y9A— Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) July 8, 2018
Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott’s big crash at Daytona looked an awful lot like the wreck that collected both of them tonight at Daytona. (Wrecks spliced together for comparison’s sake) pic.twitter.com/SupoE50y9A
Elliott has managed just one Top 5 in his first 10 races at Daytona, leading a mere 87 laps in the process. Prior to 2020, the No. 9 Chevrolet driver wrecked in four straight tries at Daytona.
The defending Cup Series champion looks like a bad value bet here.
If it weren’t for bad luck, Joey Logano would have no luck at all lately at Daytona.
Despite going 8-for-8 in terms of collecting stage points over his last four races here (93 laps led), Logano has just one Top 10 result – fourth in the 2019 Daytona 500. Accidents ended his day early in each of his last two starts over this oval.
A power move by Joey Logano gives him the Stage 1 win at Daytona, presented by @Kroger #ClickList. pic.twitter.com/PWqfdEbRD2— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) July 7, 2019
A power move by Joey Logano gives him the Stage 1 win at Daytona, presented by @Kroger #ClickList. pic.twitter.com/PWqfdEbRD2
However, Logano has visited victory lane at Daytona before, taking the 2015 Great American Race. Based on his hot beginning in 2020, when Logano won two of the first four races before the COVID-19 shutdown, it would not be surprising to see the No. 22 Ford up with the leaders from start to finish.
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