When the weekly NASCAR race started, putting a few bucks down on Austin Dillon to win at Daytona looked like a donation to the sportsbook. However, Dillon earned the improbable victory with the help of an epic “The Big One” and made some folks happy. We congratulate them for taking the 30-to-1 odds and cashing in but suggest they don’t go to that well too often.
And then there’s the NASCAR Cup Series bet to end all bets. Someone wagered $13.49 – and it was house money, no less – and turned it into just short of $1 million with the help of the late wreck that took out the entire lead pack.
It was a parlay so preposterous that no one will ever cash a comparable winning ticket again.
‘The Big One’ more than just decimated the Daytona summer race field
With two NASCAR Cup Series playoff berths on the line, there was every reason to expect drama at Daytona International Speedway, where the racing normally already includes danger in the form of “The Big One.” That’s the wreck that collects multiple cars at 190 mph and turns the 2.5-mile oval into a salvage yard.
Austin Dillon delivered the drama, gutting out a victory after a rain delay. It earned him one of the two berths, and Ryan Blaney secured the other after a battle of attrition with Martin Truex Jr.
Before all that, though, came the huge wreck triggered by the first raindrops. Dillon was running mid-pack when the precipitation hit in Turns 1 and 2. Leader Denny Hamlin slid first, turning into the wall and leaving multiple cars with nowhere to go but into the No. 11 Toyota.
Drivers to the inside also got jammed up, and just about every car involved suffered damage that ended their day right then or left them too beat up to contend when action resumed after the clean-up and rain delay.
Dillon was the lucky driver who found a hole and established himself as the leader, setting the table for his win.
Cody Ware and BJ McLeod led a cast of NASCAR unknowns
Earlier wrecks and mechanical issues had already pared the field to 30 cars, and The Big One took care of the rest. By the time the rain stopped and track dried, more than half the 37 teams that started had packed up on pit row and headed for home.
It made for a small field running the final 20 laps; many still in the hunt were there by virtue of being so far behind the major wreck that they easily avoided the damage. The top of the scoring pylon was littered with the likes of Cody Ware, BJ McLeod, Landon Cassill, and David Ragan, all normally also-rans.
While we’re sure they’re all fine gentlemen, no one could have expected any of them, let alone all four, to be in the thick of a race with playoff berths on the line. In fact, Ware was the only one even eligible to earn a playoff spot.
Somehow, some way, that didn’t stop a bettor from going on FanDuel and wagering $13.49 that all four would finish the final NASCAR Cup Series regular-season race of the year in the top 10.
The bettor played the ultimate longshot parlay
The winning bet was preposterous on its face: Cody Ware, BJ McLeod, Landon Cassill, and David Ragan would all finish in the top 10. Just look at the math involved:
- Ware (200-to-1 odds to place in the top 10) had never finished in the top 10 in 80 previous career starts.
- McLeod (200-to-1) placed ninth at the 2021 Daytona summer race, but that was his only top-10 showing in 104 starts.
- Cassill (150-to-1) began the day with one top-10 result in 333 races.
- Ragan (95-to-1) arrived with two wins and 42 top-10 finishes in 476 appearances but had raced just five times since the end of the 2019 season.
Picking any one of them to finish in the top 10 required a leap of faith. Taking all four for a parlay must have involved divine intervention. The bettor used $13.49 of free-play money provided by FanDuel as an incentive to open an account with the online sportsbook. The multiplier effect of the parlay effectively gave him or her 74,087-to-1 odds.
When Cassill finished fourth, Ware sixth, McLeod seventh, and Ragan ninth, it turned the ticket into a $999,433.63 jackpot. Because of the free-play aspect of the wager, the bettor must settle for applying $13.49 toward future bets. However, they can take whatever the government doesn’t assess in taxes as free-and-clear cash.
How to get help: In the U.S., contact the National Council on Problem Gambling helpline at 1-800-522-4700.
All stats courtesy of Racing Reference.