2024 Daytona 500 Picks & Predictions

by | Last updated Feb 14, 2024 | nascar

Race: Daytona 500
Date: Sunday, February 18, 2024
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Time: 2:30 pm ET
Channel: FOX

Welcome back to NASCAR!

Denny Hamlin got the first win of the season! Honestly, it doesn’t mean much, but a win is a win. Although it was a non-points race at a track they won’t race at anymore throughout the season, Hamlin still showed strength amongst the field. There’s something to be said for that. I’m not sure what, but there’s something, I’m sure. He thought he was clever by letting everyone know that he beat their favorite driver, but truth be told, Hamlin is still looking for a championship. The guy is a good driver. I won’t deny that, but his attitude has to go. But I guess Jr. was right when he said every sport had to have “one.” Denny is that guy. We’ll have to see if he can keep the momentum going this year as we head into the regular season getting started this week.

The Duels precede the 500 at Daytona, and we’re going to get a taste of real racing as the teams get on track Thursday. The Coliseum is alright, but it just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t get the point of these cars on that track, but maybe it’s just to garner new fans. Whatever the case may be, there’s no substitute for Daytona. Denny Hamlin is actually pretty decent here, so he’s got a shot. Restrictor plate tracks are challenging for some and natural for others. Dale Earnhardt Sr. could “see the air” and navigate through the draft on these tracks like no one else. Not many could or can do what he did. They will attempt to do so this week, though.

Where Are We Headed This Weekend?

Daytona is iconic when it comes to NASCAR. Ask anyone on the street to name a NASCAR track and fan or not; they can tell you Daytona. This track has an immense history within the sport, being built back in 1959 by Bill France Sr. The banking was his idea, providing speed through the entire track and keeping momentum with little to no banking across the 2.5-mile tri-oval. The turns boast an impressive 31 degrees of banking, with 18 degrees through the tri-oval and just 3 degrees on the backstretch. This really is an impressive site amongst the entire circuit. There aren’t many places this large. The complex is the country’s third largest sports complex with lights. It didn’t have lights until 1998. It’s changed a bit over the years, going through 4 renovations. With the different cars brought to the track, speeds have also ebbed and flowed, with cars now being governed quite a bit compared to what they used to run. Over the years, drivers have flipped, barrel-rolled, and slammed walls. It’s no wonder NASCAR is doing what it can to mitigate safety concerns. When Dale Sr. died, that was a massive wake-up for the series in terms of safety precautions, thus the advent of the HANS device. Overall, Daytona still remains an exciting race at every event.

Wager on who wins plus driver vs. driver matchup bets at Bovada!

Odds and Value Picks

All it takes is just one touch of a car to put the entire field into chaos. That’s the part of Daytona that makes it hard to predict. We’ve seen quite a few veteran winners but also many rookie guys sprinkled in the winners’ circle. That’s the beauty of Daytona. When it comes to picking a winner, it’s important to remember who’s got friends and who’s got enemies. The draft is oh so critical to maintain, and if you get pushed out of the draft or if you don’t have a partner to hit the track with after pit stops, you’ve set yourself up for failure. Teamwork is the name of the game here. Who’s got it, and who doesn’t? Let’s take a look at your potential winners heading into Sunday’s big race with odds provided by Bovada Sportsbook:

  • Top Pick: Denny Hamlin +1200
  • Mid-Range Pick: Brad Keselowski +1200
  • Dark Horse: Josh Berry +4500

Berry is going to be one to watch this year. As the interim driver for two Cup drivers last year, this guy put in quite the show. With no Cup experience previously, he really did a fantastic job filling the shoes of some of the biggest drivers for HMS. Berry is someone that is only going to get better. He landed a fulltime ride taking over for Kevin Harvick at SHR. Stewart told everyone at the end of 2023 that this team was going to be strong in 2024, and I’m here for it. I’m excited to see what Berry can do. Brad Keselowski definitely deserves all of the credit for building the RFK team last year, and I really think we’re going to see some big wins from these guys. Keselowski is awesome on superspeedways in general and has multiple Daytona wins. He was second here in the race in August. He’s looking to start off the season strong, but he’s going to have to bump Hamlin down. Hamlin has three wins at Daytona and a good overall record with 11 top 5 finishes. He’s also led the most laps out of any active driver. After starting off the season with a win at the Coliseum, his confidence coming into this weekend is right where it needs to be. Look for Hamlin and all of the Gibbs guys to be competitive this weekend.

They’re going to all have their work cut out for them. They’re going to run the Duels on Thursday, setting the field for the 500. The drivers will qualify for the Duels on Tuesday night and then run the Duels to set the field for the Great American Race. The first Duel will set the inside rows for Sunday, while the second Duel will set the outside row. Each Duel is 60 laps, and it’s going to be so important to not damage these cars on Thursday. That can be a very difficult feat. They’re going to be racing hard no matter what. With qualifying on the line, you better believe they’re going to run hard. Starting position is hugely important here. If you aren’t out front, you can delicately work your way through the pack, but it can often be time-consuming and very challenging to move through the field. Qualifying up front is really the goal.

Sunday’s big race is going to be awesome. The smell of race fuel, the sound of cars on the track, and the deafening sound of all of the fans is back. It’s definitely going to be a wild ride. Theres really no other way to open a season other than the Daytona 500. Stay tuned for one of the greatest days in racing for 2024! NASCAR IS BACK!