NASCAR is back this weekend. No, it’s not the Daytona 500, that’s next weekend, but it’s the same cars on the same track with just a little more than half the distance of next Sunday’s big race and a little more than half of the drivers. Plus, the odds are similar.
The top odds to win the Daytona 500 right now? +1000. The top odds to win Sunday’s Busch Clash? +800. No brainer right?
Well, 18 drivers will suit up to race Sunday afternoon at the Daytona International Speedway (3 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN) in an All-Star race that pays everything to win and nothing to lose. That ramps up the intensity even more for drivers who’ve been sitting idle for three months waiting for Sunday’s event.
With that being said, how do you bet this race?
First off, look at Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing.
Penske And JGR Show
Over the last six Clashes, Jimmie Johnson in his No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports is the only one to reach victory lane outside of the Team Penske or Joe Gibbs Racing camps in the Clash. Penske has won two of the last three years with Joey Logano being victorious in 2017 and Brad Keselowski in 2018. JGR won with Denny Hamlin in 2014 and 2016 and Matt Kenseth in 2015. Can Penske make it 3-for-4? Can JGR earn their fourth win in seven years?
They won half of the points paying superspeedway races last year.
Starting Position Next
Starting up front hasn’t gone well lately for this race. While there’s no qualifying to set the field, as positions are instead being drawn, four of the last five winners of this race have come from a starting spot of 13th or worse.
Furthermore, just once in the last seven years has the winning driver actually came from the top four rows (Denny Hamlin in 2014 was on the pole). Really, unless you’re starting on the front row, you may want to draw a position out outside of the top 12.
Since 2003, we’ve had three winners come from the top five, both on the front row (Hamlin -2014, Kyle Busch 2012, Kevin Harvick 2010). Other than that, 12 of the last 17 Clashes have seen the winner come from 13th or worse. Throw in the three on the front row and that’s 15-for-17.
Eight of the first 12 Clashes saw the winner come from the top five, six of which from the top three. The best odds to win the race from? 15th (14.6%).
The average starting spot for the race winner now is 9.9. The average starting spot for the runner up? 9.775.
To me, find the JGR or Penske drivers who are starting outside of the top 10 and throw some money their ways. Ironically enough, four of the seven drivers are – Erik Jones (12th), Joey Logano (13th), Ryan Blaney (14th) and Denny Hamlin (18th).
Hamlin/Keselowski The Favorites?
No one has been better in this race lately than Hamlin. He’s finished in the top six in three of his last six starts. In fact, Hamlin is only eight laps away from passing Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the all time laps led chart for the Clash. He’s led 142 circuits around the high banked 2.5-mile track in 13 career starts in this race. The next best on the active list is Brad Keselowski with 97. He’s two laps away from passing Dale Earnhardt and 12 from getting by Jeff Gordon.
Neither remarkably led a lap last year but are hungry for more this Sunday.
Hamlin, has led at least 27 laps in three of the last six Clashes though including leading 39 laps in 2016 and 48 in 2017.
Keselowski, has led at least one lap in five of his last six starts. He led 43 laps in his win a in 2018.
They start at opposite ends of the field too with Keselowski (2nd) on the front row and Hamlin (18th) on the last one.
Sleepers To Watch Too
Kurt Busch (+1300)
Worth a look here. Busch, is a past winner (2011) and has three top seven finishes in his last four Clash starts including a third place run in 2018 and runner-up last year. Trends say, he will win on Sunday afternoon. He rolls off outside of the top 13 too, so there’s a lot going his way.
Alex Bowman (+1700)
While he’s only got one Cup victory to his credit, how about an all-star victory to start 2020 off with? Bowman, was third in this race in 2017 and fifth in his second career start last year.
Erik Jones (+2000)
This is another value pick. His first ever Cup win came at Daytona in a Coke Zero Sugar 400 triumph in 2018. Jones, may have been credited with a last place finish last year after being a part of that 17 car crash on Lap 55, but he also finished eighth in this very race a in 2018 and this car won in 2015.
Austin Dillon (+2500)
A former Daytona 500 champion, was the pole sitter in this race in 2018, albeit that was by a draw. Dillon, has three top eight finishes in his last four Clash starts including a fifth place run in 2018 and sixth last year.