The NFL season is in the books, but sports bettors can rev their engines for the start of the 2021 NASCAR season with the annual Daytona 500.
The NASCAR Cup Series race, where speed and drafting reign, takes place Sunday (2:30 p.m., Fox). However, a week full of activities leads into Sunday’s running of the Great American Race.
Now, with Virginia sports betting well underway, race fans have more opportunities than ever to wager on the motorsports juggernaut. (And the options could be even more plentiful with sportsbooks potentially coming to Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway.)
And as the 2021 NASCAR season gets underway, all eyes are on young phenom Chase Elliott, who’s also the reigning champion.
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) February 5, 2021
The 25-year-old, who’s the son of 1988 NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, is one of the favorites to win this year’s title. He’s also one of the NASCAR betting favorites to win this year’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
2021 Daytona 500 odds to win
As you can see below, Elliott (+900 to +1,000) is one of the favorites for Sunday’s race.
So, too, is three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin (+700 to +800), who won the 200-lap, 500-mile race in both 2019 and 2020. The 40-year-old finished fourth in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series standings and second in wins (seven).
Other notables include 2020 Talladega winner Ryan Blaney (+1,000 to +1,200), 2012 champion Brad Keselowski (+1,000 to +1,400), and 2018 champ Joey Logano (+1,000 to +1,200).
Here are the 15 drivers most likely to win the 2021 Daytona 500, according to odds on Monday:
|Martin Truex Jr.||+1800||+1700||+2000||+1800|
A futures bet is the most straightforward way to wager on Sunday’s big race. However, there are other options, depending on the sportsbook.
For example, DraftKings and William Hill are both offering odds for Tuesday’s Busch Clash (7 p.m., FS1). The invitation-only exhibition race marks the start of the NASCAR portion of “Speedweeks” at Daytona International Speedway.
However, in addition to those “pick a winner” wagers, other types of NASCAR bets include:
- Head-to-head: Predict which of two drivers will finish in a better position in a race.
- Top 3, Top 10: Predict if a certain driver will finish in third (or 10th) place or better.
- Prop betting: Predict the car number of the winning driver (odd/even or higher/lower than 10.5).
NASCAR season championship
Elliott won his first season championship in 2020. He won five races, including the final two of the year.
That’s a big reason the Hendrick Motorsports driver is the odds-on favorite to win a season title this year.
Here are the 2021 NASCAR season championship odds for the top drivers:
|Martin Truex Jr.||+750||+800||+800||+650|
As you can see, 2014 season champ Kevin Harvick (+550 to +600), Hamlin, and two-time Cup Series champ Kyle Busch (+700 to +900) also have short odds.
Harvick, the 2014 Cup Series champ, finished first in top 5s (20) and top 10s (27) in the 2020 season. However, he’s looking for his first win at Daytona, the Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing, since 2007.
Oddsmakers are also big on Kyle Larson. The 28-year-old lost his ride with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2020 after using a racial slur during an iRacing event. Now reinstated with NASCAR, Larson will be driving for Hendrick Motorsports in 2021. He’s one of the favorites to win a season championship, with odds between +900 and +1,200.
2021 NASCAR in Virginia
Race fans won’t need to wait long to see the NASCAR in Virginia.
In fact, April will be a showcase month for the region’s tracks.
And before the Virginia swing, the first-ever Food City Dirt Race will take place at Bristol Motor Speedway. NASCAR will covert the famed short track, which is on the Tennessee-Virginia border, into a dirt oval for the first time in Cup Series history.
— BristolMotorSpeedway (@BMSupdates) February 3, 2021
The Cup Series will then return to Richmond on Sept. 11 for the Federated Auto Parts 400. It’s the second of 10 NASCAR Cup Championship Playoffs races to close out the year.
Martinsville, meanwhile, will host the penultimate race of the season with the Xfinity 500 on Oct. 31.
Truex Jr. and Elliott were winners in Martinsville during the reshuffled 2020 pandemic season. Keselowski, meanwhile, won the lone 2020 race at Richmond.