Daytona 500 – Who’s got the wood?


The “wood” is an older poker player term for someone who is settled and quiet sitting on a blockbuster hand just waiting for the raises to come to them. They simply ride along, and then just as you forgot they were even involved, they lay the cards down and the rest of players at the table go silent. In Can-am duel #2, and in recent Daytona races clearly Hamlin has had the wood. He has the best driver finish average over the past (5) races at Daytona and with his showing so far there is little reason to see this changing. Currently he is the 3rd favorite in Las Vegas at 13/2 or 6.5/1 to win the 500 on Sunday. This is current as of the end of the 2nd practice Friday.

Lets take a look at the current odds for the 500. Drivers in this list, specifically the bold font represent who I would currently target in this race based on value to my true odds. Betting NASCAR is all about value in relation to odds. Quite frequently a value wager is not a winner but when it does strike it usually pays considerably more than betting the favorites. However, sometimes the favorite is also the best value so it really depends on the particular situations in play for that week. However, at a track like Daytona value is typically found deeper in the field. This principle can be applied to both wagering and DFS. From the group below I would select a probably One or Two main target drivers then take a few flyers on the drivers with the best value. Many are left of this list which means currently I have no interest in betting them. This betting interest can change and is independent of DFS. DFS will be examined even closer later in the weekend but a good car/driver is typically good in both phases.

Dale Earnhardt Jr – Las Vegas is very aware of the overwhelming Dale Jr fan base in NASCAR so his odds are not typically of value. I would NOT approach this bet. As of now not in DFS plans either due to ownership and value.
Denny Hamlin -As of now he is the favorite in my book. Avg. finish 5.2, Avg. starting spot 20th. 15/2
Kevin Harvick – He has the attitude and the car to win – 12/1
Kyle Busch – See above but he is starting considerably deeper in the field and that can be trouble. At 12/1 he is not a bargain currently. I do like him in DFS however as I think he will move up quite a bit barring trouble. More of a tourney play for me.
Clint Bowyer – For the odds and starting spot he is solid, and he is live in DFS. 20/1

Kurt Busch – I expect a very good run barring trouble, better in DFS.  22/1

Jamie McMurray – Great control, previous winner, and value! 25/1
Ryan Blaney – Better in DFS compared to wagering. 50/1
Ryan Newman – Previous winner at 37/1, great value here! 60/1
Aric Almirola -Wild card if things get crazy with leaders taken out anything is possible, and he will likely run much better than 70/1 would indicate. DFS top ten very possible.
As mentioned above only Daytona and Talladega would render this type of wagering on wild long shots. If this were most any other track betting and DFS would be approached in an alternate conservative manner.
Changes with detailed picks are still coming so stay tuned this weekend.
UPDATE: Kasey Kane, engine swap and to the back of the field.