Daytona 500 Starting Lineup: Predictions and Odds Ahead of 2022 Duels

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2022

Kyle Larson crosses the finish line during qualifying for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Larson took the pole position for Sunday's race. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Hendrick Motorsports dominated the Daytona 500 qualifying session on Wednesday night. 

Kyle Larson took the pole position for Sunday's race, and Alex Bowman ended up on the front row alongside the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion.

Larson and Bowman have nothing to race for in Thursday's Duels, which takes out half of the Hendrick cars for victory contention in the two qualifying races. 

Most of the recent Duel winners have come from NASCAR's big teams. Team Penske has a Duel win in three of the last four seasons, and Stewart-Haas Racing picked up wins in 2019 and 2021. 

Ryan Blaney is the top non-Hendrick driver scheduled to take part in Duel 1 on Thursday. Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch will attempt to get results for their new teams. 

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch headline the Duel 2 lineup. Hamlin is a three-time Daytona 500 champion. 


Updated Daytona 500 Odds

Denny Hamlin (+850; bet $100 to win $850)

Chase Elliott (+1000)

Kyle Larson (+1100)

Joey Logano (+1200)

Ryan Blaney (+1200)

William Byron (+1500)

Kyle Busch (+1500)

Brad Keselowski (+1600)

Kurt Busch (+1700)

Kevin Harvick (+1800)

Alex Bowman (+1800)

Austin Dillon (+1800)


Duels Predictions

Ryan Blaney Captures Duel 1

Ryan Blaney has the potential to grab a second-row starting spot on the Daytona 500 grid through a win in Duel 1. 

Blaney put down the fastest time in the second practice session on Tuesday, and he is just a few years removed from winning a Duel race in 2018.

Blaney has one teammate to work with in Austin Cindric. The two Team Penske drivers should work together to reach the front. 

The No. 12 car driver faces a major threat from the three Hendrick cars in Duel 1, but one of those drivers is not racing for anything. Larson likely will not be as competitive as he preserves his car for Sunday's race. 

The two Penske drivers could control the race alongside Chase Elliott and William Byron since a bunch of drivers from smaller teams are entered into Duel 1. 

Team Penske proved it has the horsepower on Tuesday, and its best opportunity to extend its Duel-winning run to four times in five years comes via Blaney in a weaker Duel 1 field. 


Joe Gibbs Racing Cars Control Duel 2

One of the best things to have at Daytona International Speedway is a teammate or two to draft with throughout the race. 

Joe Gibbs Racing has its full complement of cars in Duel 2. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell all start between the second and fifth rows. 

The four drivers can team up to remain near, or at, the front of the competition for the duration of the race. 

Even though Hamlin is a three-time Daytona 500 champion, the Joe Gibbs cars have not won a Duel since 2017, when Hamlin captured the second qualifying race. 

The quartet of drivers should try to stick together in an attempt to win Duel 2 and to be lined up behind each other for the Daytona 500.

The second Duel race will determine the even-numbered starting positions, which means all of the Gibbs cars will start on the same lane on Sunday. 

Hamlin, Busch, Truex and Bell could use Thursday's race as practice for how they can control the main event on Sunday, and that should result in all of them running at the front. 


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