NASCAR Daytona 500 2024 Drivers, Predictions and Best Bets: Denny Hamlin starts the season right

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin battle during a 2020 race
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Matt Selz


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NASCAR handicapper for Pickswise, looking to give you winners throughout the season! For Matt Selz media enquiries, please email
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The 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season kicks off on Monday with the drop of the green flag for the Daytona 500. It was supposed to get started on Sunday, but unfortunately it had to be postponed 24 hours to Presidents’ Day due to rain. The Great American Race as it’s known is the Super Bowl of NASCAR with its pomp and circumstance. It’s the most prestigious race in the sport and it’s also the biggest race to bet of the year.

What bets should we look at for the Daytona 500? What strategies can we use to give us good chances of winning at Daytona? Let’s take a look at that plus winner predictions and prop bets for the 2024 Daytona 500.

What To Bet For The Daytona 500

The Daytona 500 is a standalone race of sorts. Not only is it the biggest race of the year, in size and scope, but the betting is also different. We’re going to see longer odds for most bets than we would at most any other race on the schedule. A typical race favorite, at a standard track, is +400 to +550 to win. At Daytona, it’s rare to see favorites shorter than +1000. Top-10 props are the same way. Normally you’d see a handful of drivers between -100 to -250; at Daytona, though, it’s more than half the field in that range. How come? The chaos and volatility in the race means a lot of driver have fair shots at top-10 finishes. Last year in the 36-car field, 30-plus drivers had previous top-10 finishes. Even with the longer odds, we still want to bet what we’re comfortable with — don’t overextend just because the return is better because, frankly, there’s a reason they are.

2024 Daytona 500 Betting Strategies

The Daytona 500 is about avoiding the chaos, both to win and for betting. That’s the main strategy for Sunday. We’ll have 40 cars on track all within a couple of seconds of each other; that’s always going to cause big wrecks. So how do we avoid the chaos? By understanding the typical flow of the race. The first half of the first stage will be spent side-by-side before settling down into a mostly-single-file line. The second stage is likely to be more of the same as drivers try and make it to the all-important third stage. That’s where things will get nuts. History suggests that drivers who lead the most laps don’t win the race in the end, nor do we see drivers who have won the first stages win the race. The drivers who have a history of top 10s here and completing the most laps (not leading but completing) are the ones we want to look at. Simply put, you have to be on the track late to have a shot at winning, right? Drivers with the higher percentage of laps completed have proven they can do that.

NASCAR Daytona 500 Predictions and Best Bets

Denny Hamlin +1100 (Caesars)

Hamlin has won this race 3 times in his career and was up front in the duels on Thursday night. The Toyotas look fast and handle well which is a very good combo at Daytona, especially for a driver of his ilk. Hamlin is starting P8 but will likely spend a lot of the race toward the back and wait until late to move up and avoid the wrecks.

Chase Elliott +1500 (BetMGM)

It was a rough 2023 season for Elliott between a broken leg, seven races missed, a suspension and not winning a race. He’s back, he’s healthy (relatively) and he’s looking to end the winless streak the first chance he gets. Elliott has been quite good at locking down top-10 and top-5 finishes at Daytona while not winning it. This year he has a car with the right balance of handling and speed that should make him a threat late in the race.

Christopher Bell +1700 (BetMGM)

Bell has had a rough history in the Daytona 500 but has generally run well in other plate races. However, he did win his duel race on Thursday at nearly these same odds (+2000). Perhaps that’s a switch in confidence he needs to nab his first Daytona 500 win and kick off the 2024 season in the way he wants.

Bubba Wallace +1800 (DraftKings)

Wallace is always a threat when it comes to plate races and has won at Talladega in the past. He has been leading the 500 in a spot to win previously, too. His skill is enough to put him here, but then add that the Toyotas are looking great and now there’s more to work with. It makes him a very interesting bet.

Martin Truex Jr. +2500 (BetMGM)

Truex Jr. s not typically a driver we think of at plate races given his rough finishes. But, hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut at some point. He looks fast this week and would have had a shot to win the duel if not for his pit crew. Yes, it’s another Toyota but sometimes you have to strike when the iron is hot and that’s the case with Truex.

Corey Lajoie +5000 (BetMGM)

Lajoie is always in play at plate tracks. He circles these races as his best chances to win on the NASCAR schedule. He has proven that, too, as he has been in a spot to win a couple of times now — including leading on the last lap on the backstretch. Besides, he doesn’t like cheering for the margarita car? That’s what we have here with his Chili’s paint scheme.

Justin Haley +8000 (DraftKings)

Haley has several wins across all 3 NASCAR series at Daytona and Talladega. Making his move to Rick Ware Racing won’t hurt him this week at Daytona where are the equipment is nearly equal and so why not sprinkle a few bucks on an 80-1 long shot with his kind of winning history in style of racing?

Daytona 500 Best Prop Bets

Brad Keselowski Top-10 Finish -130 (BetMGM)

Keselowski is known as one of the best plate racers in the field on Sunday and while he has not won as often recently at these tracks, he is generally always in contention. The Fords are also the manufacturer that is the best at managing the pack and strategically pushing which will lead to a late-race top-10 spot for Keselowski.

Kyle Larson Top-10 Finish -115 (BetMGM)

Larson isn’t known as a plate racer, but he has gotten better at making it to the finish lately. That recent run of success is enough to make this bet intriguing just needing to finish in the top-quarter of the field.

Bubba Wallace Top-10 Finish +100 (BetMGM)

Here’s a hedge. It’s just that simple, if he doesn’t win but does finish and lands in the top quarter of the finishes then we double our money. Not a bad bet for a guy who’s one of the best plate racers in the field.

Chris Buescher Top-10 Finish +110 (BetMGM)

Dad power! Buescher is back in North Carolina awaiting the birth of a child but will be back at the track for the race. We love a good narrative bet and this is as happy of one as we’ll get. The RFK duo has strong cars and is looking for a strong start to 2024, this’ll do it.

Joey Logano vs Ty Gibbs +110 (BetMGM)

Sure, Logano has a great record here and is on the pole, but I’m playing off off 2 things. Firstly, the pole sitter doesn’t typically do as well here as most other tracks. Secondly, Logano’s aggression tends to get him into trouble here. Gibbs has been quite good in previous plate races just letting the race play out rather than forcing moves. That should give Gibbs the upper hand in finishing higher than Logano.

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