Daytona 500 Odds: Best Bets for Great American Race

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IFebruary 21, 2013

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, stands in garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Tony Stewart is a strong bet to win the Daytona 500, but his 9-to-1 odds and favorite status make him a bad bet.

There are too many variables in this race to jump on the driver with the lowest odds. While the issue of variables is a huge factor in every race, they are even more prevalent in this year's Daytona. 

With the Generation 6 cars presumably forcing the action back to more of a pack-racing style, and making cars harder to control in the draft, there is bound to be at least one big wreck and plenty of craziness. 

So, below I've selected three drivers who offer more bang for your buck in relationship to their odds. 

*All odds according to Bovada on Feb. 20. 


Jeff Gordon, 11/1

Gordon's odds are just a shade lower than Stewart's, but I like Gordon's chances better to begin with. 

His Hendrick Motorsports' car is ready to roll. He showed off its speed by qualifying second for the race. 

The rest of the field is in trouble if Gordon has the fastest car come race day. The return of pack racing hearkens back to the days when he was the king of NASCAR. 

Gordon will be right at home in the Generation 6 cars, and in my mind, he should be considered the favorite. That makes this a great play. 


Denny Hamlin, 14/1

Hamlin has never won the Daytona 500, but he is a solid performer at the iconic track. He has led at least one lap in nine of his 14 starts at Daytona, with his best finish good for third place.

Hamlin is really peaking as a driver, and he and his team will be anxious to make a big statement to start the season. 

They are already off to a strong start: Hamlin posted the seventh-fastest qualifying time. 


Trevor Bayne, 33/1

Long gone are the days of tandem racing that helped Bayne shock everyone to win the 2011 Daytona 500. 

However, Bayne clearly has a nice comfort level on this track, and he has the car to win it. He posted the third-fastest qualifying time. 

If I just had to pick, regardless of odds, the three drivers most likely to win the Great American Race, Bayne wouldn't crack the list. 

However, 33-to-1 odds for a past champion in the third-fastest car is a worthwhile bet.