The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Daytona International Speedway Sunday for the 2022 Daytona 500. The green flag is set to drop a little after 2:30 p.m. ET. Below we analyze the 2022 Daytona 500 odds and lines, with NASCAR picks and predictions.
Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell, in the No. 34 Ford machine, is the defending Daytona 500 champion. If you think he is a one-trick pony, think again, as he led the third practice session with a best speed of 192.678 mph. Ford had eight of the top nine times in the third practice run.
Ford posted the top eight fastest times in the fourth practice session with Wood Brothers Racing’s Harrison Burton’s speed of 188.355 mph leading the way. Also of note for Ford drivers was Team Penske’s Austin Cindric (188.265, third) and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe (188.229, fifth).
While Ford dominated the latter practice sessions, the Hendrick Chevrolets were on top in qualifying. Defending series champ Kyle Larson will start off the pole after turning a 181.159 mph speed and teammate Alex Bowman will be on his side. Hendricks’ William Byron was third-best in qualifying at 180.850 mph – he’ll start 23rd.
SHR’s Aric Almirola was fourth in qualifying and the top Ford at 180.527 mph – he’ll start 38th. The top Toyota in qualifying was Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. at 180.040 mph – he’ll start in the sixth position.
2022 Daytona 500: What you need to know
23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace, fresh off a Netflix Series, leads all active drivers with a 13.67 Average-Finish Position (AFP) with a minimum of four NASCAR Cup Series starts. He has three top-5 runs, three top-10 runs, and nine laps led at DIS.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott, who placed second behind McDowell at last year’s 500, has just a 21.1 AFP in 12 career Cup starts at Daytona. The runner-up was his best career finish at the track, but he also has four DNFs (did not finish), or one wreck in every three starts at the Florida superspeedway.
JGR’s Denny Hamlin has three Daytona 500 victories, including back-to-back checkers in the Great American Race in 2019 and ’20. He has 11 top-5 finishes at DIS with 635 laps led in 32 career Cup Series runs.
Who is going to win the 2022 Daytona 500?
Odds provided by Tipico Sportsbook; access USA TODAY Sports Scores and Sports Betting Odds hub for a full list. Lines last updated Saturday at 6:57 p.m. ET.
Hendrick’s LARSON (+1000) is going to be a popular choice going off from the top of Row 1. Not only is he the defending Cup Series champ, but he posted 10 checkered flags and 20 top-5 runs in 36 starts in a dominant 2021. Can he dominate in the new NextGen Chevy Camaro ZL1 this season? We’ll soon find out.
It’s not much of a sample size, but Larson was seventh in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel Race No. 1 Thursday with 34 laps led, and he took a fifth-place finish in the Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles Feb. 6.
The chalk is HAMLIN (+900), and rightly so. He leads the field with three Daytona wins and 635 laps led at DIS. The No. 11 machine goes off on the outside of Row 4.
Larson’s teammate BOWMAN (+2000) doesn’t have any Daytona wins, but he has a solid 17.45 AFP in 11 career starts with three top-10 finishes and just one DNF. As mentioned, he’ll start on the outside of Row 1 next to his pole-sitting teammate Larson.
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Long-shot bets for the 2022 Daytona 500
ALMIROLA (+2000) has always been a threat on the superspeedways. It’s where he does his best work as a Cup driver. The “Cuban Missile” has a new crew chief in Drew Blickensderfer. Almirola announced 2022 will be his final season as a full-time competitor, and it would be a storybook finish for the Florida-born driver in possibly his final 500.
WALLACE (+2000) has a runner-up at Daytona, and a third of his career Cup starts at the track have resulted in top-5 finishes, while he leads all drivers with a 13.67 AFP (min. four starts). At this price he is worth a roll of the dice.
CINDRIC (+3000) has slightly longer odds, but he looked good in practice, was 15th in his Daytona debut last season and he starts from the blackjack position at 21. TrackHouse Racing’s ROSS CHASTAIN (+4000), who qualified seventh, is also worth a small-unit play.
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