A few weeks ago, NASCAR waived the checkered flag on the 2018 season after Joey Logano won the Monster Energy Cup Series championship in Homestead-Miami on November 18th. He outraced Busch, Harvick and Truex to win the first Cup championship of his career. A week later, NASCAR handed out annual awards and celebrated their biggest stars.
With this past season’s business all taken care of, we can now turn our attention toward the sport’s biggest race of the year – the Daytona 500 which takes place on Sunday, Feb 17th.
Depending on which expert you talk to or which NASCAR betting site you look at, the list of favorites vary from person to person. With that said, there are a handful of drivers that seem to be listed near the top of everyone’s list of possible winners.
Is Brad Keselowski Truly Ready for a Run at the Title?
Keselowski is already being touted as a favorite not only for the Daytona 500 in February, but also for the 2019 Cup championship. Brad finished 2018 with 3 wins and made things more interesting late in the regular season. Unfortunately, his 2018 Playoff run was cut short as he failed to even make it to the championship race. However, let’s not forget that Keselowski is the 2012 champion and has won 18 races since his title. Brad has an average finish of 23rd at Daytona, and has never won NASCAR’s Super Bowl race, but has won the summer race at this track.
Will NASCAR’s Big 3 keep their 2018 momentum going?
The Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas believes that NASCAR’s Big 3 of 2018 will pick up where they left off. Truex, Harvick, and Busch are all at the top of betting odds for the 2019 Daytona 500. In fact, Busch and Harvick are co-favorites with Truex right behind them.
Harvick is a 2-time winner at the Daytona International Speedway (DIS) and won the Daytona 500 in 2007. He has 14 top 10’s at this track and an average finish of 17.3. However, after winning 8 races in 2018, is Harvick really poised for another big year in 2019?
Kyle Busch also won 8 races in 2018, but he’s never won the Daytona 500. His only win at this track came in the summer race of 2018. Busch has an average finish of 19.2 and 7 DNFs at DIS.
Truex Jr. is moving over to JGR and will become a teammate with Kyle Busch, which should make this race team a powerhouse next year. Truex has never won a race at DIS and has an average finish of 21.7. With a new team and not much success at this track for his career, it’s hard to believe that Martin is really a favorite.
Is Joey Logano a true contender to win the Daytona 500 ?
The 2018 NASCAR champion isn’t quite at the top of anyone’s favorites list, but he’s not far behind the Big 3 and Keselowski. Depending on which sportsbook or NASCAR site you look at, Logano is in the Top 5 or Top 10 list of favorites. Logano did win the Daytona 500 in 2015, which is more than anything Busch and Truex has done. He also has a better average finish at DIS than Harvick at 17.7 to 19.2.
Last year, Logano finished 4th in the Daytona 500. In fact, he has 4 top-6 finishes in the last 4 years. With all of the momentum and confidence from this year’s championship, and proven success in this big race, Logano has to be a serious contender for winning the 2019 Daytona 500.
Any other potential winners not being considered?
Chase Elliott is at the top of the list for some NASCAR sportsbooks, but his average finish of 28.7 makes him less credible to many. Austin Dillon is another driver getting some love from oddsmakers and pundits. He won the Daytona 500 in 2018 and has 7 Top 10’s at this track in 11 career starts. His average finish of 13.4 makes him a serious threat to repeat as the Daytona 500 winner.
Jimmie Johnson will embark on his first season without longtime crew chief Chad Knaus. He’s in the middle of the pack according to betting odds at different sportsbooks. However, he leads all active drivers with 3 wins at DIS including winning the Daytona 500 twice. Johnson has an average finish of 18.6, 11 Top 5’s, and 14 Top 10’s in 34 career starts at this track.
One other driver that’s being overlooked by most is Denny Hamlin. The 2016 Daytona 500 winner has barely cracked the Top 10 favorites among most betting sites. Yet, he has an average finish of 17.7 and finished 3rd in 2018.
Who Will Win the 2019 Daytona 500?
NASCAR’s Big 3 will get the majority of attention, but Joey Logano should be the real favorite of the 2019 Daytona 500. His 2018 season was a model of consistency and his championship victory over the Big 3 gives him an advantage. Logano’s recent record at the Daytona International Speedway proves he’s on the cusp of another Daytona 500 win, and that will be in 2019.