Daytona 500 2021: Predictions, Odds and Top Drivers for NASCAR Season Opener

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2021

Aric Almirola (10) beats Christopher Bell (20), Ryan Newman (6) and Joey Logano (22) to the finish line to win the first NASCAR Daytona 500 duel qualifying auto race Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

It’s time for racing fans to start their engines. This Sunday, the Daytona 500 will ignite the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series at the legendary Daytona International Speedway in Florida.

According to the DraftKings Sportsbook, Denny Hamlin (+750) is the favorite to cross the finish line first, followed by Chase Elliott (+1000), Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano (+1200).

Bubba Wallace, who shot to the top of the leaderboard at one point in Wednesday's qualifying for Michael Jordan's 23XI Racing, will start the Great American Race from the sixth position.

Here's a quick look at the full starting lineup along with the latest racing line odds.


The #Daytona500 logo is always unique. Here are the last 15. https://t.co/YgmTjLPhYl


Daytona 500 Starting Lineup

1. Alex Bowman (+2000)

2. William Byron (+1600)

3. Aric Almirola (+1500)

4. Austin Dillon (+2500)

5. Christopher Bell (+3000)

6. Bubba Wallace (+1600)

7. Ryan Newman (+3300)

8. Kevin Harvick (+1400)

9. Joey Logano (+1200)

10. Kyle Busch (+1400)

11. Ryan Preece (+10000)

12. Chase Elliott (+1000)

13. Kyle Larson (+1600)

14. Ryan Blaney (+1200)

15. Daniel Suarez (+10000)

16. Corey LaJoie (+10000)

17. Michael McDowell (+6600)

18. David Ragan (+10000)

19. Jamie McMurray (+6600)

20. Kurt Busch (+2500)

21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+2500)

22. Chris Buescher (+5000)

23. Matt DiBenedetto (+4000)

24. Brad Keselowski (+1400)

25. Denny Hamlin (+800)

26. Martin Truex Jr. (+1600)

27. Cole Custer (+5000)

28. Joey Gase (+50000)

29. Tyler Reddick (+5000)

30. Chase Briscoe (+5000)

31. Erik Jones (+6000)

32. Derrike Cope (+60000)

33. Quin Houff (+40000)

34. Ross Chastain (+3500)

35. Cody Ware (+50000)

36. Anthony Alfredo (+20000)

37. Josh Bilicki (+50000)

38. BJ McLeod (+25000)

39. Austin Cindric (+6000)

40. Kaz Grala (+20000)

Hamlin is in a unique position as he gears up for Daytona 500.

He is the favorite to win, but he's also co-owner of No. 23, another car on the track with a driver who turned heads on Wednesday during practice.

Club Shay Shay @ClubShayShay

.@BubbaWallace on if he’ll bump & run Denny Hamiln to win the Daytona 500: “Let me say, Denny is minority owner, MJ is majority owner. 😂 But, if he didn't wreck me to get by then I won't wreck him. I'm going to do everything but that to win my 1st race, to win the Daytona 500." https://t.co/nwyG2GEH0c

But as much as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver will be chasing history with a potential three-peat, all eyes will also be on the team named after his partner, who is arguably the greatest basketball player ever.

Together, they hope to make racing history with Wallace, who is acutely aware of the moment.

"My bosses are a three-time Daytona 500 winner and maybe the greatest athlete who ever lived," Wallace told ESPN's Ryan McGee of Hamlin and Jordan. "My crew chief has already won a Daytona 500. I am going to listen to everything they have to say whenever they have to say it, no matter when that is."

Wallace has made waves on and off the track, but on Sunday, he'll have a chance to remind racing fans about why he's worthy of so much coverage.


Four drivers have gone back-to-back in the Daytona 500. Nobody has won three straight. https://t.co/MeWrTxpfX1

As for Hamlin, he'll no doubt have a vested interest in Wallace's success, but he's still in the driver's seat himself, and that means the driver of the 23XI Racing car and everyone else on the track better watch out for the odds-on favorite.

Prediction: Hamlin will be tested by Wallace, Elliott and Lagano, but no one will get in the way of him completing the trifecta. He wins his third straight Daytona 500 on Sunday.


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