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Daytona 500: Cash, Crypto, and the Race to the Metaverse

NASCAR’s first official race of the season promises a big payday for top finishers and a peak under the hood at the future role of cryptocurrency and collectibles in racing.

Racing season revs up in Daytona this weekend with today’s top drivers vying for a trip down victory lane. But that’s not the only storyline gaining momentum in anticipation of NASCAR’s biggest race.

The 500-mile sprint at Daytona International Speedway (Sun., 2:30 ET) offers several other interesting narratives related to new cars, notable sponsorships deals, and NASCAR’s new home inside the metaverse.

And let’s not forget the star power.

Not only is NFL Hall of Fame cornerback and 1997 Heisman winner Charles Woodson the Grand Marshal, but country music star Trace Adkins will sing the national anthem, and be sure to keep an eye out for Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his new NASCAR team.

It’s the 64th running of the Daytona 500 and there’s plenty to pay attention to, but first let’s get up to speed on who’s favored to claim the checkered flag on race day.

Who’s in the Driver’s Seat?

There’s plenty at stake in this season’s inaugural run at Daytona.

While the official amount of money the winning driver could earn is not known — NASCAR stopped reporting driver earnings in 2016 — racing pundits surmise it is likely much more than the $1.5 million Joey Logano earned for his win at Daytona in 2015.

And don’t count out how lucrative a potential breakout performance can be — last year’s winner Michael McDowell was 0 for 357 before winning the big race and earning himself some newfound stardom complete with new sponsors and more money.

In the days leading up to qualifying, oddsmakers had a few of the usual suspects in the running as favorites.

Three-time Daytona champion Denny Hamlin was the odds-on favorite, followed not far behind by the likes of Bubba Wallace, Kurt Busch, Logano…the list goes on.

2021 Cup Series champion Kyle Larson was the fastest in qualifying, followed by Alex Bowman, meaning both will start at the front of the pack on Sunday.

Here are the odds from FanDuel following qualifying.

FanDuel | Outright Betting Odds

  • Denny Hamlin (+900)
  • Chase Elliott (+1200)
  • Ryan Blaney (+1200)
  • Kyle Larson (+1200)
  • Joey Logano (+1300)
  • Kevin Harvick (+1700)
  • William Byron (+1700)
  • Brad Keselowski (+1700)
  • Kyle Busch (+1900)
  • Bubba Wallace (+1900)
  • Kurt Busch (+1900)
  • Austin Dillon (+2000)

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A Race to the Metaverse

There’s been plenty of buzz surrounding NASCAR’s new home in the metaverse in the lead-up to the Great American Race.

Here’s a look at a few of the ways racing is adapting to the times.

NFT platform Candy Digital launches “Candy Racing”

Candy’s newest collection of digital collectibles, created in partnership with Race Team Alliance, features “digi-cast” non-fungible tokens of 23  NASCAR Cup Series drivers from 10 racing teams.

The NFTs are available for purchase at candy.com/racing. A bundle of all 23 NFTs retails for $500, while single NFTs start at $50.

And when the checkered flag waves, collectors who own NFTs of the Daytona 500’s top three finishers will receive a subsequent, unique NFT honoring the champion.

Momento NFT Partners with Floyd Mayweather Jr. to Bring NASCAR to Web3

Momento NFT, a direct-to-fan NFT social network that allows fans and collectors to own the best moments from content creators, has partnered with Mayweather’s lifestyle brand TMT racing to bring NASCAR to the metaverse and empower creators to explore the untapped potential of web3.

In the partner announcement, Mayweather said he is looking forward to diving headfirst into the world of NFTs to bring one of the world’s most popular and lucrative sports to the metaverse.

“I love fast cars, and I love to compete,” Mayweather said. “I know NASCAR will not be easy, but anything easy isn’t worth doing, to me. With that being said, this move into auto racing seems to be a perfect fit for the Mayweather brand.”

ZED RUN Celebrates the Return of NASCAR with Special Race Track

The leader in virtual horses is celebrating the the start of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series and the Daytona 500 by launching a new NASCAR-themed virtual horse racing track.

“Stable owners” will be able to try out the new track, with ZED RUN boosting the frequency of races to ensure that everyone can participate.

Team Hezeberg Partners with Rare Goods, Inc. for Exclusive NFT

It’s an exciting partnership for Team Hezeberg, the first NASCAR Cup Series team entirely from Europe.

The collab gives NASCAR fans the opportunity to create their own customized NFT — NFT ME — on the unique NFT sports platform.

One lucky winner from a random drawing will have their NFT ME made into a decal and placed on the B-Post of the No. 27 Ford Mustang and ride along with driver Jacques Villeneuve.

JJ Yeley Inks Sponsorhip with Crypto Company HEX.com

Triple Crown Champion JJ Yeley plans to run the Daytona 500 with sponsorship from the HEX.com crypto community in partnership with Malco Enterprises, MBM Motorsports, and AXA Holdings. 

The crypto community helped raise the money needed for HEX.com to sponsor the car, pulling in over $600,000 in just five days.

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