Well the wait is over and it’s time for another season of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing as the traditional opener of the season is set for Sunday with the Daytona 500. Also known as “The Great American Race” the Daytona 500 has become to biggest single race each year in the United States with the highest TV ratings of any race run annually. The Daytona 500 is known for its breathtaking competition in which packs of cars are separated by mere inches due to restrictor plates set on each engine to slow down the cars in what is called the interest of safety. What instead often happens are multi-car wrecks that will knock out much of the field including many top drivers. This makes for a lottery type element that makes for a challenging handicap.
Daytona 500 “The Great American Race”
Date and Time: Saturday, February 17, 2019, 2:30 p.m. ET
Location: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona, Florida
Daytona 500 Odds at Bookmaker.eu: 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 500 TV Coverage: FOX
The Daytona International Speedway was opened 60 years ago in 1959 and hosts two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races each year with the Daytona 500 each February to start the new NASCAR season followed by the Coke Zero Sugar 400 that takes place around July 4 each year. The track is a tri-oval that is 2.5 miles in length with turn banks of 31 degrees and 18-degree banking on the tri-oval.
The first Daytona 500 was held in 1959 and was won by Lee Petty, father of the “King” Richard Petty. And in fact, Richard Petty is the all-time leader for wins at the Daytona 500 with seven. Austin Dillon was the winner last year with Kurt Busch winning in 2017 and Denny Hamlin taking the checkers in 2016. The last man to win consecutive Daytona 500’s was Sterling Marlin in 1994 and 1995.
Drivers to Watch
Joe Logano is the defending MENCS champion and is one of the top active drivers at Daytona. As a matter of fact, Logano was the 2015 Daytona 500 winner. Logano was criticized by some, including then defending MENCS champion Martin Truex Jr, for his aggressive driving tactics in the playoffs last fall. Logano gave Truex a love tap on the rear bumper at the end of a race at Martinsville that proved to be the difference in his winning the championship. Overall Logano has 20 career starts at Daytona with one win, eight top ten finishes, and an average finish of 17.7.
“The Big Three” of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Truex Jr dominated last year’s regular season. Harvick has been strong at Daytona while Busch has been hit and miss as Truex Jr has struggled.
Kyle Busch has never won the Daytona 500 although he did win a summer race there. In 27 career starts at Daytona, Bush has one win and eight top ten finishes with an average finish of 19.2.
Kevin Harvick has a whopping 35 career starts at Daytona with two wins and 14 top ten finishes with an average finish of 17.3. Harvick was the winner of the 2007 Daytona 500.
Martin Truex Jr has simply not found the formula for success at Daytona with just four top ten finishes in 27 career starts. His average finish at Daytona has been 21.7.
Among active drivers Austin Dillon has been among the most effective at Daytona. Dillon has 11 career starts there with one win and seven career top ten finishes with an average finish of 13.4.
Daytona 500 Free Picks
Kevin Harvick simply gets better with age. He has the proven record to go with experience at Daytona!
Daytona 500 Pick: Kevin Harvick at BookMaker.eu