Daytona 500 2020: Odds and Predictions for Great American Race

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2020

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 09: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Peak Ford, leads Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, during the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway on February 09, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

The curtain raises on the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday, when the Daytona 500 gets underway at Daytona International Speedway in Florida.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start on pole next to Alex Bowman, while Joey Logano and William Byron locked out the second row by winning Thursday's Bluegreen Vacations Duel.

Defending Cup Series champion Kyle Busch has never won the Daytona 500. He came second last year to Denny Hamlin, who will be aiming to win the Great American Race for a third time.

Hamlin will start the race as one of the favourites, along with Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick.

                         

Daytona 500 Starting Lineup (Odds)

1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+1,500; wager $100 to win $1,500)

2. Alex Bowman (+2,500)

3. Joey Logano (+1,000)

4. William Byron (+2,200)

5. Aric Almirola (+2,800)

6. Jimmie Johnson (+1,400)

7. Ryan Newman (+2,500)

8. Kyle Larson (+1,800)

9. Brad Keselowski (+900)

10. Kevin Harvick (+900)

11. Darrell Wallace Jr. (+4,000)

12. Cole Custer (+6,000)

13. Austin Dillon (+2,500)

14. Erik Jones (+3,000)

15. Martin Truex Jr. (+1,000)

16. Matt DiBenedetto (+2,200)

17. Christopher Bell (+4,000)

18. Kurt Busch (+2,200)

19. Chris Buescher (+5,000,000)

20. Ross Chastain (Field, +2,200)

21. Denny Hamlin (+900)

22. Tyler Reddick (+5,000,000)

23. John Hunter Nemechek (+7,500)

24. Ty Dillon (+5,000,000)

25. Chase Elliott (+1,200)

26. Michael McDowell (+7,500)

27. Ryan Blaney (+1,600)

28. Kyle Busch (+1,000)

29. Clint Bowyer (+2,500)

30. David Ragan (Field, +2,200)

31. Ryan Preece (+7,500)

32. Timmy Hill (Field, +2,200)

33. Justin Haley (Field, +2,200)

34. Brennan Poole (Field, +2,200)

35. Quin Houff (Field, +2,200)

36. Corey LaJoie (Field, +2,200)

37. Joey Gase (Field, +2,200)

38. B.J. McLeod (Field, +2,200)

39. Brendan Gaughan (Field, +2,200)

40. Reed Sorenson (Field, +2,200)

Odds courtesy of Caesars Palace.

                          

Harvick finished the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series in supreme form.

In the last 12 races of the year, he finished outside the top 10 only once and picked up wins at the Brickyard 400 and the AAA Texas 500.

Harvick will start No. 10 on the grid on Sunday after finishing fourth in Duel 2 on Thursday. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has tasted victory before in the Daytona 500, winning the iconic race in 2007. Recently, though, it has not been his race. He has finished outside the top 20 in the past three editions despite qualifying in the top 10.

Keselowski has endured similar disappointment. The 36-year-old has not had a top-10 finish in the Daytona 500 since 2014, with his best finish since then coming last year, when he was 12th.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 09: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 MoneyLion Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway on February 09, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/G
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

It is a different story for Hamlin.

The Florida-born driver has a superb record in the season-opener, missing out on the top 10 just twice in the past eight years.

In that time, he has won the Daytona 500 twice, finished on the podium a further two times and placed fourth twice.

He also had two wins in the last five races of the 2019 NASCAR season.

The only other two-time winner in Sunday's field is the legendary Jimmie Johnson, who won the race in 2006 and 2013 and has six other top-10 finishes in the Daytona 500 to his name.

Sunday signals the start of the seven-time champion's final season in NASCAR, and if he could somehow manufacture a victory, it would be a fairytale for the 44-year-old. It seems like a long shot, though. Johnson has not been at his best in recent seasons and most recently claimed victory at the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover in June 2017.

                   

Prediction: It is difficult to look beyond Hamlin. He goes into the 2020 season on the back of an excellent finish to 2019 and has a superb record in the Daytona 500. He takes the opening win of the new campaign Sunday and becomes the first back-to-back winner since Sterling Marlin in 1995.

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