The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season begins in earnest this Sunday afternoon with the 64th running of the Daytona 500. When it comes to making NASCAR betting picks on The Great American Race, one of the key differences between this and most other races is the level playing field. This creates the opportunity to find real value on some Daytona 500 longshots.
Thanks to a whopping 31 degrees of banking in the turns, Daytona International Speedway is one of two NASCAR tracks that identify as a superspeedway. Because of the high banking, drivers have the ability to run open throttle all the way around the 2.5-mile oval. With safety in mind, NASCAR uses a rules package that caps the maximum speeds. Thus, even lower-budget teams have a legitimate shot when it comes to winning the “Great American Race”. The following assesses three drivers who have what it takes to defy the NASCAR odds and cash as 2022 Daytona 500 betting longshots on BetUS Sportsbook.
Top NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 Betting Longshot Picks
Daytona 500 longshot betting odds taken from BetUS Sportsbook.
Michael McDowell (+5000) | NASCAR Odds
It’s somewhat difficult to justify the defending Daytona 500 Champion as being a true “sleeper” pick. Yet, last year’s winner, Michael McDowell, is still available at a 50-1 price through BetUS. Several other sportsbooks have clearly taken some influential NASCAR betting action on the 37-year-old. At the start of Speedweeks, bettors could have found McDowell widely available at 60-1 or longer. Now, he is priced as low as +2800 at multiple shops. Clearly, the market has been willing to fire on the reigning champ.
Some people would undoubtedly argue that McDowell’s Daytona 500 victory from a year ago was pure luck. However, the Front Row Motorsports driver actually has a very impressive track history. McDowell has finished inside the top-10 in three of the last four editions of The Great American Race. Over the last ten NASCAR Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway, his average finish of 14.0 ranks third among drivers with at least five starts.
So far this week, McDowell already turned some of the fastest practice laps and finished second in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2. As a result, he is set to start on the third row for Sunday’s main event. He has proven capable of surviving the draft and being in position at the end on countless occasions at both Daytona and its sister superspeedway track, Talladega. McDowell has what it takes to cash as a Daytona 500 betting longshot for the second year in a row.
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Erik Jones (+6600) | NASCAR Odds
Following a lackluster first season as the lone ranger for Richard Petty Motorsports was lackluster, Erik Jones will have some more help this year. As a result of Petty merging assets with GMS Racing, Jones will have a true full-time teammate this season in Ty Dillon. When it comes to the Daytona 500 betting, having teammate help cannot be understated. Jones is also covered on the manufacturer alliance front. There are more Chevrolets in the field than both Fords and Toyotas.
When one considers that Jones only has an average finish of 21.5 over the last ten races at Daytona International Speedway, betting him to win on Sunday may seem foolish. However, when full context is accounted for, it becomes clear that the average finish is a bit misleading. In four of the last ten Daytona races, Jones got caught up in “The Big One” and finished 35th or worse.
When he has managed to survive to the end of the race, his numbers are much more respectable. Along with a win in the 2018 Coke Zero Sugar 400, Jones finished third in the 2019 Daytona 500 and has two other top-12 finishes over the last ten starts. The Cup Series veteran is capable of cashing as a Daytona 500 betting longshot and launching the new Petty GMS Motorsports era in style.
Noah Gragson (+10000) | NASCAR Odds
Alright, we’re going for broke with our final Daytona 500 betting longshot pick. Offering a 100-1 return, 23-year-old Noah Gragson is the epitome of a NASCAR betting longshot. Once again, we remind you of the level playing field created by the nature of NASCAR’s superspeedway racing package. Gragson may be starting 39th, but he will have plenty of time to make his way to the front.
Of course, you won’t find Gragson’s name listed among the recent NASCAR Cup Series driver stats for Daytona International Speedway. That’s because he competes in the Xfinity Series. His Xfinity Series stats at The World Center of Racing are quite impressive. Gragson has scored four top-15 finishes and a win back in February of 2020.
Gragson qualified for the 2022 Daytona 500 as an open entrant for Beard Motorsports. The No. 62 Chevrolet only runs in four races per year with each of those coming at the superspeedway tracks. Why only run at Daytona and Talladega? Because of the level playing field! For a non-points team like Beard Motorsports, the only thing that matters is trying to go out and win. The parity created by the superspeedway package is the only way a race team that has exactly one full-time employee has a legitimate shot at overtaking the big boys for a victory.
As a matter of fact, Beard Motorsports has already achieved some success. The results are headlined by four top-10 finishes with now-retired NASCAR veteran Brendan Gaughan behind the wheel from 2017-20. The best-ever finish for the No. 62 car in the Daytona 500 came in 2020 when Gaughan finished seventh. Given how strong Gragson is on the superspeedways, he just might achieve the impossible as a Daytona 500 betting longshot.