DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — Wednesday night (8:15 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN) we’ll set the front row for Sunday’s 65th annual Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN). Nothing else matters for this night. 3rd quickest on back just sets your spot into Thursday’s Bluegreen Duels (7 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN) which in turn will then determine the starting lineup for the Great American Race.
So, in terms of betting, it may be wise to begin Speedweeks with some smaller bets to snag the Daytona 500 pole. You get similar odds as you’d get for the Daytona 500, but you also know that not many of these drivers can win a pole at the World Center of Racing.
Here’s who I think are wise bets to place.
- Hendrick Motorsports: Hard to pick against any of these four, so may be wise to side with all four in hopes of getting a pole out of one of them. Kyle Larson (+1000) won last year’s pole. In four superspeedway races last year, the Cup Series qualified in three of them with the fourth (Coke Zero Sugar 400) having quals rained out. In 2 of the 3 qualifying efforts, Larson started on the front row. William Byron (+1100) was 3rd, 8th and 9th respectively a year ago and has a pair of front row starts in the Daytona 500 in the last four years. Alex Bowman (+1200) has 5 straight front row starting spots for the Daytona 500. One HMS driver you can punt on is Chase Elliott (+1100) who was only 5th, 28th and 16th respectively a year ago and only has two Speedweeks front row starts. Hendrick Motorsports has to be the favorites among the Chevy camp as they’ve won seven of the last eight poles for here and 15 overall. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with JTG Daugherty Racing is the lone exception with winning the pole in 2020. Jeff Gordon started the streak in 2015. Chase Elliott won the pole in 2016 and again in 2017 followed by Alex Bowman in 2018 and 2021, William Byron in 2019 and Kyle Larson in 2022.
- Denny Hamlin (+1200) – His 3 superspeedway qualifying efforts a year ago was 8th, 7th and 3rd respectively. He last qualified on the Daytona front row in 2018.
- Trackhouse Racing: Both Ross Chastain (+1800) and Daniel Suarez (+2500) qualified in the top 10 at Daytona last year. Suarez was 9th, 4th and 14th respectively, so I like his odds here. Chastain was in the top 7 in 2 of the three.
- Christopher Bell (+2500): 2 poles in 3 superspeedway starts last year (both at Talladega) and 14th in Daytona.
- Martin Truex Jr. (+2500): 2 of his 3 superspeedway starts last year were 6th. He also has 2 front row starting spots in the Daytona 500 as well.
- Aric Almirola (+3000): He was 6th in Daytona 500 qualifying last year and 4th in the Fall Talladega race.
- Chase Briscoe (+3000): Qualified 5th in the last superspeedway race at Talladega and I hear Ford’s may have the quickest pace.
- AJ Allmendinger (+5000) Daniel Hemric qualified the car 11th, 3rd and 13th last year. Allmendinger has 3 front row starting spots in 6 Xfinity Series tries too.
- Harrison Burton (+5000): The Wood Brothers are always fast down in Daytona and Burton was 10th in Daytona 500 qualifying last year.
- Team Penske: They haven’t been too strong in qualifying on superspeedway’s lately. Joey Logano (+1300) was 12th, 13th and 11th respectively last year on them. He’s never had a front row starting spot for the Daytona 500. Ryan Blaney (+1400) was 13th, 22nd and 19th. He too has never started on the front row for the Daytona 500. Austin Cindric (+1800) 21st, 18th and 17th respectively.
- RFK Racing: Brad Keselowski (+1800) was only 17th, 15th and 18th in the three superspeedways last year. He’s never had a front row start in 27 Daytona starts. Chris Buescher (+2500) was 28th, 30th and 23rd respectively last year too.
The easiest favorite for the pole will be a manufacturer in Chevrolet. The bowties have won 10 straight Daytona 500 poles and 15 of the last 17. They’ve also won 30 total Daytona 500 poles besting Ford by 17 total poles with the blue ovals scoring 12 poles in the Great American Race, the last being in 2012.
The only two races since 2006 that a Chevy driver didn’t earn the Daytona 500 pole was in 2007 (David Gilliland) and 2012 (Carl Edwards).
Toyota, has never won a Daytona 500 pole.