NASCAR betting: Ryan Blaney has better Daytona odds than Martin Truex Jr. in battle for final playoff spot

The NASCAR Cup Series wraps up its regular season on Saturday at Daytona (7 p.m. ET, USA Network) with all but one playoff spot locked up. That spot will go to either a 16th different race winner, Ryan Blaney or Martin Truex Jr. Blaney sits 25 points ahead of Truex Jr. and his 779 points are the third-highest total of the season, but because the Cup Series’ “win and you’re in” playoff format, could be shut out.

The playoff field is composed of every driver to win a race that season – unless there are more than 16, in which case the top 16 winners on points qualify. One condition to that is in the unlikely scenario the regular season points champion has not won a race, they automatically qualify. Blaney and Truex sit comfortably in the top 16 on points but since neither have notched a win and just one opportunity remaining, one will be out.

The points and recent history are on Blaney’s side. Blaney has four Top 10s in the past five races at Daytona including a win in this event last year. Truex Jr. has an average finish of 20th at the speedway in that same span. Blaney’s Team Penske counterpart Austin Cindric won the Daytona 500 in February. Blaney has the best odds for victory among non-race winners this weekend.

Of course, restrictor plate racing tends to put up the odd random winner and if a mid-pack driver rises up to win on Saturday, it would render all of this moot. Here’s what you need to know to bet the last race of the regular season. All odds are from BetMGM.

Coke Zero Sugar 400 favorites

  • Chase Elliott (+1000)

  • Ryan Blaney (+1200)

  • Denny Hamlin (+1200)

  • Kyle Larson (+1200)

  • Joey Logano (+1200)

  • Bubba Wallace (+1200)

Elliott enters as the favorite having already clinched the regular season points championship (and its 10-point playoff bonus) but will still be looking to bank all-important playoff points via stage wins. Hamlin boasts the most wins at the speedway with three and the only other drivers with a win at Daytona are Blaney and Logano with one apiece. Larson has been on the pole for the last two races at Daytona but failed to finish higher than 20th in either of those outings, while Wallace has finished second in the last two trips to the speedway.

Feb 16, 2022; Daytona, FL, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (23) during qualifying for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Bubba Wallace has finished second in each of his last two trips to Daytona and has an average finish of 5.75 at each of the last four NASCAR restrictor plate races. (Photo by John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

Good mid-tier value

  • Aric Almirola (+2800)

  • Austin Dillon (+2800)

Almirola and Dillon both boast a win at the speedway and three Top 5s apiece. Dillon has finished 15 of his 18 starts running.

Don’t bet this driver

  • Daniel Suarez (+2500)

Trackhouse Racing has had a breakout season with Suarez and Ross Chastain combining for three wins and making the playoffs, but Suarez at 25-to-1 isn’t worth taking. He has never finished higher than 17th at Daytona and only finished running there twice in 10 starts.

Looking for a longshot?

  • Justin Haley (+5000)

Haley won this event in 2018, ran sixth in the Daytona night race last year and has finished the race running in each of his four starts at the speedway.