DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – The Daytona 500 always brings more attention to sleepers than any of the other 35 races on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. See, this is NASCAR’s grandest stage. It’s their Super Bowl. But, due to the racing package, it’s also one of four races each year where any one of the 40 drivers have just as good as a chance as their counterparts.
There’s a high chance of an upset winner in it. We’ve had two unlikely winners in each of the last two years. Do we see a third straight?
Kurt Busch (+1600)
He won this race in 2017 and has had a quietly good Speedweeks thus far. He finished second in the Clash and fifth in his Duel.
Paul Menard (+2800)
He’s been extremely quick this Speedweeks. If not for a crash with Jimmie Johnson at the end of the Clash, Menard who led 52 laps that day would have won. This Wood Brothers car won in 2011 and was runner-up in 2017. Menard himself has brought this car home sixth last year and has three top six finishes in his last four points paying Daytona starts. He finished third in his Duel too.
Austin Dillon (+3300)
He’s the defending Daytona 500 winner but listed as a sleeper. He’s been quiet. Dillon, nabbed a top 10 in the Clash last weekend and has four top 10 finishes in his last six Daytona starts.
Ryan Newman (+4000)
The former Daytona 500 winner has a chance on Sunday. Newman, has three straight top eight finishes at Daytona and is driving a better car. Ford has won 13 of the last 18 points paying plate races as Roush Fenway Racing, Newman’s new team, has been at their best at Daytona.
Darrell Wallace Jr. (+4000)
He was the story last year. He finished runner-up in the season opener at Daytona. Wallace, also has three top 15 finishes in as many tries at Daytona.
Michael McDowell (+6600)
He’s always a good sleeper pick on a plate track. McDowell, has five top 15 finishes in his last six Daytona starts including a ninth place run in last year’s Daytona 500. Front Row Motorsports has two career NASCAR wins, both came on plate tracks.
Matt DiBenedetto (+6600)
Watch out for him. Leavine Family Racing is with Toyota now and has some big momentum. LFR has five top 15 finishes in their last six Daytona starts. DiBenedetto, also has three top 13 finishes in his last four Daytona starts too.
Chris Buescher (+8000)
This is a high value pick. Buescher has three straight top 10 finishes at Daytona including two fifth place runs last year. JTG now has Hendrick power under their hoods. This has sleeper potential.