NASCAR: Your 2024 Daytona 500 Preview

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
michigan sports news


  • The 2024 Daytona 500 starts at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday - weather permitting. The Daytona 500 has started every NASCAR season since 1982.
  • Ryan Blaney, the No. 12 car, is the defending Cup Series champion. He had three wins last year for Team Penske.
  • Two Michigan natives, including rookie Carson Hocevar (77 car) and Erik Jones (27) are expected to be in the field.

The Daytona 500 is another sign that spring is coming around the corner.

NASCAR launches its 2024 season with the traditional running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, but race fans know there’s more than just the Sunday race. There’s qualifying on Wednesday, and the duel races to set the field on Thursday.

If you’ve never tried gambling on NASCAR, you may be surprised at the wide array of options at Michigan sportsbooks. In addition to betting the overall winner of each race and Cup Series champion, FanDuel has bets on the make of the race winner (Ford, Chevy or Toyota), DraftKings has head-to-head markets, where you can bet on driver vs. driver finishes. Plus, there are prop bets related to car numbers.

What Do The Oddsmakers Say? 

The favorites and past winners usually get the rub at sportsbooks before races start and before qualifying.

FanDuel has Blaney as the favorite to win at +900, followed by Denny Hamlin at +1100 and Brad Keselowski and two others at +1200. Blaney is also the favorite at FanDuel to win the Cup Series, but keep in mind, it’s been over 10 years since anyone repeated as champ. 

DraftKings has Hamlin as the favorite to win at Daytona (+900) followed by Kyle Busch and then Blaney.

Hamlin (11 car) has won Daytona three times in 2016, 2019 and 2020. He would join NASCAR legends Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough as the only four-time champs with a victory Sunday.

What To Know About Daytona 

Hamlin also comes in hot, having won the hastily rescheduled Clash at the Coliseum in California two weeks ago. That was the unofficial start to the season - results didn’t count in the Cup Series standings.

Hamlin is coming off shoulder surgery, and despite all his success on the track - 50 wins and counting - he’s never won the Cup. He’s a polarizing NASCAR figure and content to play the villain at times.

Last year’s race went to double overtime - caused by two late caution flags - and was won by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after an accident on final lap. The bad news for this weekend is rain is in the forecast for both Saturday and Sunday.

Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is expected to compete for one of the open spots on the grid. Johnson is a part-time driver now.

Cup Series Preview 

NASCAR makes changes every season to its schedule. Michigan International Speedway will host its annual race in August, the FireKeepers Casino 400. The format for the season remains the same, 26 races with drivers scoring points to get to the top 16 racers who become eligible for the 10-race playoff.

There will be an Olympic break midway through the season for the series. NASCAR is bringing back the traditional Brickyard 500 in Indianapolis after staging it as a road-course race for the last three years. The Southern 500 in Darlington is the last race of the Cup regular season. The playoffs again conclude with the Cup Series Championship race November 10 in Phoenix.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.