Dale Earnhardt Jr. among Daytona 500 betting favorites

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(OddsShark.com) — After a dominating Can Am Duel victory on Thursday earned him a second row start in Sunday’s Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has emerged as a favorite to claim his third career victory in NASCAR’s top race with +385 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Earnhardt picked up his first Daytona 500 win back in 2004 and will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance in last year’s race, failing to maintain a lead he held for 30 laps and eventually finishing third.

The 41-year-old North Carolina native, who trails the favorites on the odds to win the Sprint Cup championship at 10/1, has finished in the top three at Daytona in each of the past four years, including a win in 2014, and will be starting from the first two rows for the seventh time in 17 appearances in The Great American Race.

Denny Hamlin had to settle for a fifth-place Can Am Duel finish on Thursday, but prepares for Sunday afternoon’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway trailing only Earnhardt on the odds at +750.

Hamlin is followed by two-time Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson, who joins Kyle Busch at +975 despite being forced to start from the rear of the field in a backup car after being involved in a crash in the final lap of Thursday’s second Can Am Duel race.

Johnson last won the Daytona 500 in 2013 and recorded a fifth-place finish a year ago, en route to a disappointing 10th place finish in the Sprint Cup standings.

The 15-year NASCAR veteran is a 7/1 bet to claim a record-tying seventh career Sprint Cup championship, joining Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth and trailing only Kevin Harvick, who enters the week as 5/1 chalk to claim his second Sprint Cup crown in three years.

Harvick, hungry for a win after falling just one point short of a Sprint Cup championship repeat last season, enters at +1250 on the Daytona 500 odds, trailing Logano and Brad Keselowski, who are knotted at +1100, and Matt Kenseth at +1200.

Logano picked up his first career win at Daytona last year, while Keselowski completed just 160 laps in last year’s race after recording top-five appearances the previous two years. Kyle Busch, the man who edged out Harvick to finish atop the 2015 Sprint Cup standings, opens the NASCAR season with 8/1 odds of repeating as champion, followed by Keselowski at 9/1.