NASCAR Preview - Brad Keselowski and Fords Favored in Daytona 500, Odds, TV Schedule
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
NASCAR is back following the off-season and the running of the non-points paying Auto Zone Clash last weekend. There are new rules, drivers with different teams, new teams and a few rookies ready to kick off the official 2019 schedule starting with the Daytona 500. But one thing has not changed, Ford’s are predicted to pick up right where they left off while Brad Keselowski is favored to win the 500.
Keselowski and his teammate Joey Logano both have shown speed during practice last week and during the Clash. The two drivers seem to be carrying over the success they had last season. And, both are skilled Superspeedway drivers. Plus, both drive Fords which seems to be the hot car thus far. That could change following the 500 heading into Atlanta as rule packages will change slightly. We will know if Ford is still the brand to beat in two weeks.
The Ford theme is one I touched on last week prior to the Clash and it’s worth noting again as oddsmakers have keyed in on it as well. Last season Ford won nineteen times in route to their Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Joey Logano took home the crown with two other blue oval drivers, Kevin Harvick, and Aric Almirola, finishing in the top-five.
Now, here are the current odds, through +1200, heading into the Daytona 500 with driver, manufacture, and their odds courtesy of Intertops.
Brad Keselowski, Ford
Joey Logano, Ford
Kevin Harvick, Ford
Clint Bowyer, Ford
Denny Hamlin, Toyota
Chase Elliott, Chevrolet
Aric Almirola, Ford
Ryan Blaney, Ford
Did the Clash Race Tell Us Anything?
The Clash proved a few things, NASCAR should avoid racing in the rain, Jimmie Johnson can still win – wrecking the field is another article topic, and Ford’s are still strong despite changing to the new Mustang body style.
Paul Menard, driver of the famed No. 21 Ford for Wood Brother’s Racing, led for almost the entire race. He was out front of the 20-car field for 51 laps. The Clash is a 70-lap shootout that was shortened to 59 laps due to rain following the wreck, and red flag caution, set off by Johnson when he pulled down in front of Menard. Kyle Bush led the first lap, Austin Dillon led 3 laps and Johnson ended the day with four laps out front.
Anything can happen on a Superspeedway, as was demonstrated during the Clash, but there is strong evidence that Ford’s will have the upper hand at the Daytona 500 and the Gander RV Duels to be run on Thursday night.
Can Austin Dillon Defend his 500 Win?
Oddsmakers have Austin Dillon buried at +3500 deep in the field. His 2018 Daytona 500 win proved the young driver can put the No. 3 Chevrolet back into victory lane as he now has two Cup Series wins. The first came in 2017 at Charlotte with his second being at the 500 last year. However, despite winning the biggest race of the year, Dillon failed to follow it up.
Some of that was being in the wrong place at the wrong time as he suffered three DNF’s. He did manage two top-five and eight top-ten finishes but he only led 23 laps for the entire season. And, his average finishing position was 17.5 which is only a slight improvement over his average 18.8 starting position.
The another factor last year was that Chevrolet teams as a whole were on the downside. The Chevy team fought through a rough changeover from the old SS body style to the new Camero which made its Cup Series debut in 2018. Dillon’s chances of winning the 500, or any race in 2019, may ride on how much improvement Chevrolet and the teams under their banner have improved. He’s got the talent, but has Chevy closed the gap with Ford and Toyota?
Remaining Odds for Winning 2019 Daytona 500
Martin Truex Jr
Complete On Track Schedule for Daytona Race Weekend
Last weekend the Clash was run for the Cup Series with the Menards ARCA Racing Series starting their 2019 race season as well. This week the NASCAR Cup Series will share track time with the both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
Thursday, Feb. 14
• Truck Series: Practice — 1:25 p.m., Fox Sports 2 • Truck Series: Practice — 3:35 p.m., Fox Sports 2 • Cup Series: Duel at Daytona (two qualifying races; 60 laps, 150 miles each) — 6 p.m., FS1
Friday, Feb. 15
• Xfinity Series: Practice — 11:05 a.m, Fox Sports 1 • Cup Series: Practice — 12:05 p.m., Fox Sports 1 • Xfinity Series: Practice — 1:05 p.m., Fox Sports 1 • Cup Series: Practice — 2:05 p.m., Fox Sports 1 • Truck Series: NextEra Energy 250 qualifying — 3:40 p.m., Fox Sports 1 • RACE - Truck Series: NextEra Energy 250 (100 laps, 250 miles) — 6:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Saturday, Feb. 16
• Xfinity Series: NASCAR Racing Experience 300 qualifying — 8:40 a.m., Fox Sports 1 • Cup Series: Final Practice — 11:05 a.m., Fox Sports 1 • RACE - Xfinity Series: NASCAR Racing Experience 300 (120 laps, 300 miles) — 1:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Sunday, Feb. 17
• Cup Series: Daytona 500 (200 laps, 500 miles) — 1:30 p.m., Fox