Danica Patrick will start the 55th Daytona 500 in the pole position but sportsbooks are hoping she’ll finish anywhere but first Sunday.
Patrick has been the popular play at most sportsbooks, both online and Las Vegas, and could hand books a big loss if she wins NASCAR’s season opener. She was as high as 150-1 at some markets before running the fastest qualifying time and earning the pole last weekend.
“To put it simply, if the winner doesn’t have a meat and two veg in his pants, our motorsports traders will be looking for a new job come Monday morning,” jokes Russ Candler of UWin.com.
Patrick jumped to around 60-1 odds after qualifying and has been bet down as low as 28-1, continuing to take action as NASCAR betting heads into the weekend. She was able to run a safe and crash-free Budweiser Duel race, protecting her main car from damage.
Other drivers drawing notable action to win the Daytona 500 are Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, who each won their respective Duel race Thursday. Busch opened at 10-1 while Harvick opened at 11-1. Both are currently 9-1 favorites at Bet365.com.
In Las Vegas, Tony Stewart has been one of the more popular plays. The owner/driver is one of the best at Daytona International Speedway, owning an average finish of 19.2. However, Stewart has never won the Daytona 500. He opened at 15-1 at the LVH Superbook in Las Vegas in December and is currently 12-1 heading into the weekend.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., renowned for restrictor-plate racing, is also among the more popular plays. At the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas, Earnhardt is the most-bet driver among the field and is down to 8-1. The 2004 Daytona 500 winner owns the second-best average finish at DIS at 18.7.
Last year’s winner, Matt Kenseth, is currently priced at 10-1. He could become only the fourth driver to win consecutive titles at Daytona and the first since Sterling Marlin in 1994-95. Kenseth, who also won in 2009, would become just the fifth driver with three or Daytona 500 wins if he is victorious Sunday.