Daytona 500 Betting Preview: Head-To-Head Matchups Worth Closer Look

Going driver vs. driver can help bettors narrow their focus

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February 17

Trying to find a needle in a haystack can be a lot like trying to pick a winner for the Daytona 500.

No, we didn’t get that backward.

Predicting the victor in the “Great American Race” can be so difficult, it’s fitting to turn the cliché above on its head. With at least 35 guaranteed losers, your chances of picking the right guy don’t feel so great.

Head-to-head matchups can be a less daunting way to get in on the betting action, though. Instead of betting on one driver against the entire field, you take one driver in a mano a mano battle against one other driver. But you’d better do your homework on both of them.

Here are the head-to-head matchups we’re taking in Sunday’s race, with all odds via Westgate SuperBook.

Mike Cole: Christopher Bell (-110) over Tyler Reddick
Not only do I like Bell to win this matchup, he’s definitely worth a look to win this thing outright at 25-1. He popped here last year, starting fifth and finishing 16th while leading 32 laps in the process. He had his share of success on Xfinity Series, too, finishing no worse than sixth in his last four appearances at Daytona. A couple of Joe Gibbs Racing wins at Daytona since 2019 don’t hurt the case, either.

Ben Watanabe: William Byron (+105) over Kyle Larson
After covering why Byron isn’t a great pick to win — a point which still stands — it feels safe to bank on him finishing better than Larson. It all comes down to which one can stay on the track. Both the ceiling and the floor are higher for Byron, though. Although he’s failed to finish four of the eight races he’s run at Daytona, Byron has one win and a P2 (both in the summer event) in the four races he’s finished. Larson has six DNFs and has never placed in the top five.

Dakota Randall: Bubba Wallace (+105) over Kyle Larson
Wallace still hasn’t enjoyed a ton of success at the Cup level, but you can argue he’s been at his best in restrictor plate races. His only Cup win came in last October’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, and he has three top-five finishes in nine starts at Daytona, including a pair of runner-ups. Larson is the superior driver and has the better equipment, but that doesn’t always guarantee success in the Great American Race.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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