Daytona 500 odds, picks 2019: NASCAR prediction model says Aric Almirola surprises

The day of The Great American Race has finally arrived, as the 2019 Daytona 500 drops the green flag to begin 200 laps of pulse-pounding action on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. After weeks of testing, speed trials, practice and then the Advance Auto Parts Clash and the Gander RV Daytona Duels, the 40-car field is set. Hendricks Motorsports teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman sit on the front row, though they're both still considered long shots at 40-1 and 30-1, respectively. Duel winners Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano join Brad Keselowski as 8-1 co-favorites in the latest 2019 Daytona 500 odds. But before you make your 2019 Daytona 500 picks and NASCAR predictions, be sure to check out the projected leaderboard from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

Developed by DFS pro and SportsLine predictive data engineer Mike McClure, this proprietary NASCAR prediction computer model takes factors such as track history and recent results into account.

It made some huge calls in NASCAR last year, including correctly projecting wins for Kyle Busch at Chicago and Martin Truex Jr. at Sonoma. It also nailed three of the top four finishers at Michigan, and two of the top four at last year's Daytona 500. Anybody who followed its picks finished way, way up.  

McClure, who has a mechanical engineering degree, grew up around race tracks. Big events like the Daytona 500 are in his blood. And now that the 2019 Daytona 500 lineup is taking shape, his model simulated the event 10,000 times and the results were surprising.

One of the top Daytona 500 2019 picks we'll give away: Aric Almirola makes a charge to the front with 12-1 odds.

At 34 years of age and having spent the last seven seasons as a full-time driver on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Almirola is coming off the best season of his career. He won the second race of the season at Talladega, NASCAR's other 2.5-mile superspeedway, and finished with 17 top-10 finishes for a 10th-place finish in the NASCAR standings.

Almirola should be using a similar car setup at this year's Daytona 500 and he also has had some success at Daytona International Speedway, taking the checkered flag at the 2014 Coke Zero 400 for his first career victory. Almirola will start Sunday's race in eighth and he has the potential to deliver a strong payout with those 12-1 odds and an unquestionably fast car.

One surprising pick: Keselowski, one of the Vegas favorites, makes a strong run but falls short of the checkered flag. Keselowski finished eighth in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Standings last season with three wins, and expectations are high for him heading into 2019. 

But he's struggled historically at Daytona International Speedway, failing to finish his last four races at this track due to accidents. And though he had a win at this track three years ago, he finished 20th in the Daytona 500 that season. In 19 career races at Daytona, his average finish position is 17th, so there are far better values to win it all than the 8-1 premium he's commanding. 

The model is also targeting four drivers with 2019 Daytona 500 odds of 12-1 or longer to make a serious run at winning it all. Anyone who backs these long shots could hit it big. 

So who wins the 2019 Daytona 500? And which long shots stun NASCAR? Check out the latest 2019 Daytona 500 odds below and then visit SportsLine to see the full projected Daytona 500 leaderboard from the model that crushed its NASCAR picks last year.

Brad Keselowski 8-1
Kevin Harvick 8-1
Joey Logano 8-1
Clint Bowyer 10-1
Denny Hamlin 10-1
Chase Elliott 12-1
Aric Almirola 12-1
Kyle Busch 16-1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 16-1
Kurt Busch 18-1
Martin Truex Jr. 18-1
Jimmie Johnson 20-1
Daniel Suarez 25-1
Paul Menard 25-1
Austin Dillon 30-1
Alex Bowman 30-1

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