Everybody loves a Daytona 500 long shot; in all sports, bettors strive to scratch that itch of betting on an underdog. NASCAR bettors are no different, and the Daytona 500 is no exception. Long shot plays are arguably the most “fun” to bet on – even if “fun” doesn’t always translate into a positive return on investment.
Talk about a longshot: the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League were 100-1 on many books to reach the Super Bowl at the beginning of the 2022 season. Though their season ended in a heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl LVI, the thrill that their unlikely run provided to the degenerate bettors who rode the Bengals train is forever priceless.
There was definitely a literal price to be paid for those bettors. The ones who didn’t have to pay a price, however, were the geniuses who picked Michael McDowell to win the 2021 Daytona 500. He ranged anywhere from 50-1 to 100-1 on most books and got the job done for his degenerate followers.
With all due respect, if you bet money on McDowell to win that race, you are a betting degenerate.
And I mean that with all due respect. Many would take that as a compliment, actually.
Nonetheless, a full year has passed and here we are: only a few days away from the 64th Daytona 500. Who is the next “Cincinnati Bengals”; the next Michael McDowell? Who are the highly coveted longshots supposed to be for the Great American Race?
Let’s get right into it.
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— dale tanhardt (@daletanhardt) February 14, 2022
*All odds are via DraftKings Sportsbook
Best Daytona 500 Long Shot Plays
Chris Buescher: +3500 to win, +1000 for a Top 3
Statistically, Buescher has to be the most attractive play to be the next McDowell. Buescher finished 2nd at Daytona in the fall race last year but was disqualified for failing post-race inspection (which is odd for a superspeedway race), so on the stat sheet it says he finished 40th. He legitimately finished 2nd.
So with that considered, Buescher has 6 Top 10’s and 4 Top 5’s in his last 8 races at Daytona. Hell, take away the Buescher P2 that didn’t count, and the stats are still solid.
I love Buescher’s chances to be there at the end. Counting Talladega, Buescher has been running at the end in 7 of the last 8 superspeedway races. Surviving is key for an upset to occur, and Buescher has been excellent at doing just that.
Chase Briscoe: +5000 to win, +1500 for a Top 3
There’s almost no statistic that can support this bet. But, oftentimes at Daytona, there’s a certain magic that transforms the Daytona air in February.
The Fords are fast. Briscoe drives a Ford, and he ran all the laps in 3 of the 4 superspeedway races in 2021.
There’s your betting research and analysis for Briscoe. The rest of what I’m about to tell you will convince you to bet on him because of the narrative associated with “Daytona Juju”.
Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer will commentate this race with Mike Joy on Sunday. Both Stewart and Bowyer drove the #14. Neither won a Daytona 500, which is especially disappointing for Tony considering how prolific he was at Daytona and all the accolades he boasts throughout his career.
It would be the ultimate irony if Briscoe won while Tony commentates his first-ever Daytona 500 with the former driver of the #14 alongside him. I promise you all: Daytona Juju is a very, very real spell. I could write a book about its effects over the years.
But for now, let’s just put the house on Briscoe and trust the Daytona Juju to work its magic once again.
Cody Ware: +2000 for a Top 5, +1000 for a Top 10
The fact that Cody is still listed with the likes of BJ McLeod, Timmy Hill, and is more of an underdog than JJ Yeley (+600 for a Top 10) is baffling to me. Rick Ware Racing aligning closely with Stewart Haas Racing should be recognized in the betting lines.
There is going to be a massive difference between the equipment Ware drove in 2021 vs. what we’ll see in 2022. I’m not saying that’ll translate to stout Top 10’s every week, but this is a driver and team that spent many races last season getting lapped repeatedly- I expect that to be a figure of the past this season.
I think these guys will play the race conservatively and will have the engine power to compete in the Top 10 and, if the crashes and high unpredictability we typically see impact this race once again, Cody could find himself with a career-best finish on Sunday.
David Ragan: +10000 to win, +3500 for a Top 3
I can’t just write about Fords, right?
Wrong. I’m on the hype train. But I was on the train way before practice on Tuesday. The Fords have been spectacular on the superspeedways over the recent years, and David Ragan is no slouch when it comes to this style of racing.
Ragan wouldn’t jump into a ride that just had absolutely no chance of winning. He will race in the #15 Rick Ware Racing Ford. I already talked about their new alliance and Cody’s chances, so let’s talk about the former Daytona winner’s chances.
In 8 of his last 12 appearances, Ragan has been running at the end. In 4 of those races, he has 4 Top 15’s, 2 Top 10’s, and 1 Top 5 (February 2020).
I like a veteran who has gotten the job done twice at superspeedways, and knows how to get to the front and contend. The stats aren’t sexy by any means, but for a savvy veteran in what I expect to be a solid racecar, I’d at least try Ragan out for a Top 10. But this is about long-shot bets.
High risk? High reward. Ragan’s still got it. Keep an eye out on Sunday.
For all of my Daytona 500 bets with specific unit allocations, follow me @daletanhardt on the Action Network Sports Betting app by downloading it for free here.