Elite Eight versus the rest
Based on the prevailing estimates of winning chances for the Daytona 500, there are eight drivers that are considered elite. (I define elite as at least twice the chance of winning as the average.)
The Elite Eight is as follows:
Kyle Busch (2.8 times the average)
Kevin Harvick (2.8)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2.8)
Tony Stewart (2.6)
Carl Edwards (2.4)
Jeff Gordon (2.4)
Jimmie Johnson (2.1)
Kasey Kahne (2.1)
If the odds were not considered and one had to pick a single driver to win, then pick from the Elite Eight. These drivers have impeccable track records and that has to mean something of an edge. Interestingly, what's implied in the odds is that there is about a similar chance of a winner coming from this group than from the other thirty five drivers. This doesn't sound quite right to me in a race as tight and volatile as the Daytona 500. Hence, if the odds are considered, then pick from the rest of the field. The Elite Eight track record comes with a sizable premium that is hard to justify.
The better drivers of the rest of the field are as follows:
Feeling lucky? Then there are many with slim chances of winning. These are better as 'lottery' picks given the odds.
The list below has the better names of this group:
(Please visit www.nascarone.com for a list of estimated winning chances for the upcoming Daytona 500.)