Few races can match the Daytona 500 as far as excitement, drama, unpredictability and popularity. Indeed “The Great American Race” has become the biggest race of all in the United States. It is also one of the most difficult for handicappers to figure. Indeed, the Daytona 500 is one of the four “plate races” that take place each year in NASCAR where restrictor plates are used to control the speed of the cars. As a result, the drivers draft off each other and form large packs of cars that often end up in what is best known as “the big one” which is a polite way to describe violent multi car wrecks that are part of the lottery aspect of this race. Last year’s winner, Austin Dillon, was just the latest of the many surprise upset winners of this event. But that is what draws so many fans and gamblers to Daytona. The lack of predictability!
Daytona 500 from Daytona International Speedway
Date and Time: Saturday, February 17, 2019, 2:30 p.m. ET
Location: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona, Florida
Daytona 500 Odds at Betcris: Brad Keselowski +700, Joey Logano +700, Clint Bowyer +1370, Kevin Harvick +919, Denny Hamlin +1100, Chase Elliott +1500, Aric Almirola +2000, Ricky Stenhouse Jr +1800, Ryan Blaney +1000, Kyle Busch +2011, Martin Truex Jr +2160, Kurt Busch +2160, Daniel Suarez +2160, Erik Jones +2160, Jimmie Johnson +2160, Alex Bowman +2160, Kyle Larson +2976, Auston Dillon +3362, Paul Menard +3684, Bubba Wallace +4500, Ryan Newman +5000, Daniel Hemric +5000, Ryan Preece +5000, Field +1262
Daytona International Speedway
NASCAR boss Big Bill France built the Daytona International Speedway in 1959 in order to draw attention to stock car racing which, at that time, trailed Indy Car racing and the Indianapolis 500 in esteem with the public. In fact, France was once laughed out of Indy for running a “taxi cab racing” circuit that was considered too slow for the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But revenge was Big Bill’s as Daytona’s configuration made stock cars as fast as Indy Cars. The current track is 2.5 miles in length with high turn banks of over 30 degrees. The cars ended up going too fast and NASCAR had to put restrictor plates in them to prevent the vehicles from flying into the stands.
Daytona 500 History
The very first Daytona 500 set the stage not just for a new tradition of big time stock car racing but for this individual event itself. The race ended in a photo finish between Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp. Big Bill France had a keen sense of publicity and let the drama drag out for several days before declaring Lee Petty, father of future NASCAR “King” Richard Petty, the winner of the first ever Daytona 500.
Since that time “The Great American Race” has done what at that time was considered impossible and overtaken the Indianapolis 500 as the biggest race of all in the United States. Lee Petty’s son Richard is the all time wins leader for the Daytona 500 with seven. Among active drivers Jimmie Johnson is the career leader with two.
Surprise winners are often part of the drama at the Daytona 500. The most famous of all is when Derrike Cope overtook the late great Dale Earnhardt on the final lap of the 1990 Daytona 500. Earnhardt blew a tire as he was heading home to victory lane on the final lap which opened the door for Cope, who won only two races out of 427 in his career.
Drivers to Watch
Last year’s champion Joey Logano has also had a strong record of success at Daytona with 20 career starts, one win, five top fives, eight top tens and an average finish of 17.7. Logano was the winner of the 2015 Daytona 500.
Kevin Harvick won the 2007 Daytona 500 and has had a strong record of consistency at the track. In 35 career starts at Daytona Harvick has a total of two wins, nine top fives and 14 top ten finishes with an average finish of 17.3.
Daytona 500 Free Picks
Like a fine win Kevin Harvick gets better with age. His experience and record at Daytona should serve him well here.
Daytona 500 Pick: Kevin Harvick at Betcris
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