The front row for the Daytona 500 is set, but the drivers starting in front on Sunday (1:30 p.m. CT on FOX) saw their odds to win The Great American Race adjust against conventional wisdom.
Superspeedway specialist Ricky Stenhouse Jr. posted the top time in Sunday’s qualifying with a fast lap of 194.582 mph. Stenhouse, who is making his first start in the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet, is 30/1 to win the Daytona 500 at the Westgate SuperBook despite opening with 25/1 odds.
Stenhouse, who is using a Hendrick engine under the hood of his Camaro, will take the green flag alongside Chevy teammate Alex Bowman. The No. 88 driver also had his odds lengthened, from 18/1 to 25/1.
Simply put, the front row isn’t the position you want to be in at Daytona until the checkered flag due to the likelihood of the infamous “Big One” that can knock out a large portion of the field in a matter of seconds. In fact, the last time a driver won the pole position and the race was 2000 by Dale Jarrett.
But could Stenhouse (or Bowman) be an exception this season? Over the past four races at Daytona, the duo owns the top two driver ratings and average running positions in the field. Stenhouse also won the 2017 Geico 500 at Talladega from the pole and Bowman’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and William Byron joined Stenhouse with the fastest lap averages in Practice No. 2.
Finding “dancing partners” late in the 500 is paramount to breaking the draft and making a move around Daytona’s high banks. It’s a truism witnessed at the end of Sunday’s Clash when Denny Hamlin pushed teammate Erik Jones all the way to finish line in an exhibition race that saw only six of 18 cars running at the finish. Jones led only the final lap—the 88th of the race and the 13th of overtime for the win as Hamlin was able to push him past Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer on the last lap.
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Jones (30/1 to win the 500) had the second-fastest lap average in Practice No. 1, with the Joe Gibbs Racing alliance of Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Hamlin and rookie Christopher Bell occupying spots 3-6 on the speed chart. Truex has seen his odds shorten the most of JGR drivers leading up to the race, adjusting from 25/1 to 14/1.
Unlike all other races this season, starting positions 3-40 for the Daytona 500 will be determined through the running of the Bluegreen Vacation Duels 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday (6 p.m. CT on FS1).
2020 Daytona 500 betting odds
|Martin TRUEX JR||25/1||14/1|
|Ricky STENHOUSE JR||25/1||30/1|
|Darrell WALLACE JR||60/1||60/1|
|John Hunter NEMECHEK||100/1||100/1|
|FIELD (all others)||18/1||40/1|
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