2021 O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 Betting Preview
Last week's Daytona 500 was one for the history books. Despite the final laps being dominated by the race's biggest favorites in Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick, Michael McDowell emerged from the chaos to earn his 1st career victory in NASCAR's biggest race. Before the race, McDowell was a 66 to 1 long shot to pull off the victory, and while we may have missed out on the big victory, another opportunity awaits this Sunday right back on the sandy shores of Daytona Beach. Instead of the high-banks of Daytona's 2.5-mile oval, the Cup Series will compete on the 3.61-mile road course for the 2nd official race of the season.
Many of the Cup Series' biggest stars competed on the road course at the start of Daytona Speedweeks in the Busch Clash last Tuesday. Kyle Busch earned the victory in the non-points paying event after Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott wrecked while battling for the lead on the final lap. Despite not leading any laps prior to the white flag, Busch led the only lap that mattered to score the victory. Bettors can look back at the Busch Clash and last year's Go Bowling 235 for the only two events that have transpired on Daytona's Road Course to yield expectations for this weekend's race. Chase Elliott won the inaugural race last season on the road course in the Go Bowling 235 in a relatively dominating fashion. Elliott led over 50% of the laps in the win. At the time, it was Elliott's 3rd straight victory in the Cup Series at road course venues, but he bested that mark last fall at the Charlotte ROVAL meaning he has won 4 consecutive points-paying races at road course venues.
As a result of the prior success and the fact Elliott drove an ill-handling car to near victory in the Busch Clash, the former 2020 Cup Series Champion tops my list as the best betting target for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 despite conservative betting odds. Bettors should lock-in Elliott as the primary option and look for additional drivers that could contend if things go south for the #9 team. Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex are two drivers that standout for strong performances in both prior events at Daytona's road course that I mentioned above. Truex arguably had the best car in the Busch Clash but wrecked on the backstretch when he over drove the chicane. I consider Truex the best road course talent behind Elliott in the Cup Series, and he will definitely have an opportunity at redemption on Sunday.
Still, we would like better betting value behind Elliott to keep a sufficient ROI ratio for our final bet slip. A few drivers that fit into those categories include Ryan Blaney, William Byron, and perhaps an even bigger long shot in Tyler Reddick. Blaney's recent near-victory in the Busch Clash will likely have a negative impact on his betting odds, but he remains one of the more underrated road course talents in the Cup Series. Both Blaney and William Byron have performed extremely well at the Charlotte ROVAL, which is very similar in layout and design to Daytona's road course. Personally, I like the value Byron brings to betting lineups despite the fact Blaney is the more developed driver with the higher win probability.
Lastly, Tyler Reddick is also on my radar for Sunday's race. Reddick performed surprisingly well for a rookie at the road course venues last season, recording finishes of 18th at Daytona and 12th at the ROVAL. Obviously, those are not numbers that would suggest the #8 car will be battling for a win this week. However, Reddick did drive the #8 to a 4th place finish in the Busch Clash. Obviously, Reddick is a relatively big underdog for Sunday's return to the road course, but I believe he provides a ton of value in the form of H2H match-ups. Reddick is one of those drivers this week that provides excellent leverage in H2H match-ups and should be targeted aggressively in those formats.