Daytona Duels Picks and Predictions

Updated: February 11, 2021

The Daytona Duels qualifying races set the stage for this Sunday’s main event in Florida, the Daytona 500, and there are plenty of racers providing good value.

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The annual Bluegreen Vacations Duels in Daytona (7 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN) at the World Center of Speed will set the lineup for 40 drivers at this Sunday’s Daytona 500. Covers Experts’ Auto Racing Advisor has broken down the field for our best Daytona Duels picks and long-shot predictions to get you set for tonight’s races.

Daytona Duels provide a great opportunity for NASCAR betting and these qualifying races are a fun lead-in to the big Great American Race. From favorites like Denny Hamlin to value picks like Ricky Stenhouse Jr., let’s take a look at the starting lineups and betting trends for this event.

Daytona Duels 1 favorites

Denny Hamlin (+550)

You can never count him out. Hamlin has won each of the last two Daytona 500s and has two Daytona Duels wins overall since 2014, including five Top 10s in that time frame. 

Joey Logano (+650)

He’s won a Duel in each of the last two years to go along with six consecutive Top-8 finishes. Furthermore, he’s actually finished in the Top 3 in seven of the last eight years. He will start 11th in Duel 1. 

Kyle Larson (+700)

He has four Top-8 finishes in seven tries including a third-place result just last year. He has a better car now and rolls off eighth.  

Daytona Duels 1 best value picks 

Aric Almirola (+750)

He’s a good superspeedway racer and starts third. 

Alex Bowman (+900)

This car finished runner-up last year and Bowman has had good speed in past Daytona Duels. Does Bowman as the ‘500 pole-sitter risk crashing his car to go for a win?

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+1,000)

He had a car capable of winning last year’s Daytona Duels but as the pole sitter for the Daytona 500, he elected to keep it somewhat conservative so he didn’t get caught up in a crash. Now he rolls off third and, in my mind, is the favorite. 

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Daytona Duels 2 favorites

Chase Elliott (+900)

He’s won two Daytona Duels and has scored a Top-8 finish in four of his five tries. 

Ryan Blaney (+1,100)

He won a Duel in 2018 and has scored four Top-6 results in six Daytona Duels starts. He starts ninth in Duel 2.  

Kevin Harvick (+1,300)

He’s had just one Daytona 500 win over his career, but Harvick has done his best at the Daytona Duels. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has six straight Top-6 finishes in these qualifying races, including a third-place effort in 2017, a runner-up in 2018, and a win in 2019. 

Daytona Duels 2 best value picks

Kyle Busch (+1,400)

Three of his last four Duels have seen him finish outside of the Top 10 but he also has three Top 5s since 2015, including a win in 2016. He won the Clash and now starts eighth on Thursday night. 

William Byron (+1,600)

He won a Duel last year as well as the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Be a little wary, though, as most pole sitters for these races just ride conservatively to save their cars for Sunday’s race. 

Bubba Wallace (+2,000)

Worth the risk here. He was quickest in practice Wednesday, qualified fourth overall Wednesday night, and rolls off second on Thursday night. 

Kurt Busch (+2,000)

Never say never. Busch has six Top 5s in his last eight Daytona Duels, including 15 Top-8 finishes overall in 20 tries. He was third, third, fifth, fifth, and eighth, respectively, in his last five tries. He starts seventh. 

Austin Dillon (+2,500)

He has four straight Top-10 finishes in the Daytona Duels and five in eight starts. He starts fourth in Duel 2. 

Daytona Duels betting trends 

  • Over the last 29 Daytona Duels, just once has a pole winner won that race.
  • Seven straight Daytona Duels have been won from the 3rd starting spot on back.
  • The last 11 Daytona Duels have been won from a starting spot in the Top 4 Rows.
  • 13 of the last 14 Daytona Duels have been won from a Top 10 starting spot.
  • 20 of the last 24 Daytona Duels have been won from Row 2 on back.
  • Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske, and Joe Gibbs Racing have all combined to win 14 of the last 15 Daytona Duels.
  • The Daytona 500 winner has come from the first 7 Rows in eight of the last nine years. That means the Top 7 finishers in Thursday night’s race will certainly land on the favorites list for Sunday.
  • The last Daytona Duels winner to win the Daytona 500 was Matt Kenseth in 2012. He’s the only one to do it in the last 16 years. In fact, it’s only been done five times since 1996.
  • Nine of the last 10 Daytona Duels have run to completion in less than one hour, including 14 of the last 18. In fact, the longest Duel since 2009 lasted 1-hour, 8-minutes, and 25-seconds.

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