2018 Daytona 500 Vegas expert picks and predictions: Fade Martin Truex Jr., back Paul Menard

The 2018 NASCAR season begins with a bang Sunday with the Daytona 500, which starts at 2:30 p.m. ET. Brad Keselowski is the Vegas favorite at 5/1, followed closely by Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Chase Elliott at 8/1. Before you make any kind of bet on the 2018 Daytona 500, you need to see what Micah Roberts has to say.

As a Vegas bookmaker, Roberts was the first to offer expanded NASCAR betting. Now he hands out NASCAR winners to his followers.

In the 2017 NASCAR playoffs, Roberts picked nine of the 10 winners. That wasn't a fluke, either. In 2016, he told readers to back Denny Hamlin at 15/1 in the Daytona 500. The result: Hamlin edged Martin Truex Jr. for the checkered flag. Roberts also nailed Hamlin at 40/1 to win at Watkins Glen later that year.

Now, he has analyzed the 2018 Daytona 500 from every possible angle and locked in his picks. You can see his entire projected leaderboard at SportsLine.

One huge surprise Roberts is calling for: Paul Menard, listed at 50/1, makes a serious run at the checkered flag as one of his favorite long shots. Menard's skills "show best when the plates are on," says Roberts. Menard is a target for anybody eyeing a big payday.

Menard, who's driving the No. 21 Ford that Ryan Blaney drove last season, placed third and fifth in a pair of Daytona races last year.

Another curveball: 2017 Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. finishes closer to 20th than the Top 10. Roberts notes Truex only has one top-5 finish in 25 career Daytona starts. And he has zero plate wins in his career.

Truex Jr. finished 34th in last year's summer Daytona race. In the 2017 Daytona 500, he took 13th.

Roberts is also eyeing a big underdog who's had plenty of success at Daytona before. Anyone who backs this long shot could hit it big.

So who wins the 2018 Daytona 500? And what long shots stun the racing world? Visit SportsLine now see the full projected leaderboard from the nation's premier NASCAR handicapper, and find out!

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