Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN) Betting and Race Preview

WHO WILL WIN THE COKE ZERO SUGAR 400

Favorites to bet

Denny Hamlin (+650)

Pretty low odds for a superspeedway race, but Hamlin has won the Daytona 500 in three of the last five years including two straight. While he’s never won the annual summer race, he’s the best superspeedway racer in the game right now, so take him for these odds.

Kevin Harvick (+1000)

Harvick hasn’t necessarily been known as a great speedway racer, but he did finish fifth in February’s Daytona 500 and the SHR driver will likely play it conservative on Saturday night just as he did back in February. With seven wins on the season, all coming during the pandemic, why not? You also get him for good odds too.

Joey Logano (+1200)

Crazy you can get him here for these odds. Logano, has four points paying superspeedway wins. He won his Duel at Daytona back in February. He also has six top four finishes since 2013 and enters with six straight top 10’s on the season.

Ryan Blaney (+1400)

He just won at Talladega this past summer and was second in February’s Daytona 500. Combine the Fall race at Talladega last October and he has three straight superspeedway top two finishes.

Longs shot to bet

Jimmie Johnson (+1800)

Good odds for a guy going for a playoff berth. He will keep it conservative until the end and with likely a lot of carnage, I expect Johnson to be there in the end. He has five top 10 finishes in his last nine superspeedway starts.

Kurt Busch (+2000)

He should have won this race last year. He pitted. Lightning came out. The race never resumed and he lost. Busch, has five top 10 finishes in his last 11 superspeedway starts.

Aric Almirola (+2200)

He’s better at Talladega but his first ever Cup win came in this very race in 2014. He should have won the 2018 Daytona 500, was fourth in the 2017 Daytona 500 and seventh in this race last year.

William Byron (+2500)

He won his Duel this past February too. He enters with two top 10’s in his last three starts on the season. He also finished runner-up in this race last year.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+2500)

You get the Daytona 500 pole sitter from earlier this season for these odds. Stenhouse, has been great on superspeedway’s with both wins coming on them.

Ryan Newman (+3000)

Take him for the storybook factor. You get good odds here and how about winning a race on his first Daytona oval start since that frightening last lap crash there in February. He was leading the race coming off the final corner. A win to put him in the playoffs? Newman, has five top 10 finishes in his last six Daytona starts.

Austin Dillon (+3300)

He won the 2018 Daytona 500. Enough said.

Chris Buescher (+4000)

Solid sleeper here with four top 10 finishes in his last six Daytona tries including three of those being in the top five. He was third back in February.

Michael McDowell (+4500)

What a story this would be. McDowell, has three top 10 finishes in his last six Daytona starts.

Ty Dillon (+5000)

Three top six finishes in his last five Daytona starts makes him a solid sleeper.

Corey LaJoie (+15000)

Worth a risk. LaJoie has two straight top eight finishes at Daytona.

How I’d Bet

Those are drivers I’d pick, but how would I bet them? Click here to find out

Coke Zero Sugar 400 Preview

The time is here. The regular season of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule will wrap up for Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN). To have a cut off race at the Daytona International Speedway is going to cause a lot of fireworks even with the race moving off the Fourth of July race weekend for just the second time ever. The other came in the wildfires in 1998.

Still, we have 13 drivers that have clinched a spot to the postseason with three more spots available for the taking. Clint Bowyer just needs to finish 34th or better on Saturday night and he gets one. That would leave two spots for three drivers right now with Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron and Jimmie Johnson being separated right now by just nine points. Byron to Johnson is only four points. As we sit, two make it and one’s championship hopes are over.

But,  two may end up missing it if someone behind them wins though. It’s entirely possible too.

Amazingly, five drivers who are currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, have hoisted Daytona trophies in NASCAR’s premier series, and the list reads like a “Who’s Who” in the sport. In order to guarantee a spot in the playoffs, they will need yet another piece of historic “World Center of Racing” hardware. They include:

  • Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet; the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion is currently 17th in NASCAR Cup standings, winner of two DAYTONA 500s (2006, 2013) and one Coke Zero Sugar 400 (2013). He is the last driver to sweep both Daytona Cup races in a single season.
  • Erik Jones, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota; Currently 17th in NASCAR Cup standings, winner of the 2018 Coke Zero Sugar 400
  • Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet; Currently 24th in NASCAR Cup standings and pole sitter for this year’s DAYTONA 500, winner of the 2017 Coke Zero Sugar 400
  • Ryan Newman, No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, currently 25th in NASCAR Cup standings, the 2008 DAYTONA 500 Champion
  • Matt Kenseth, No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet; Currently 28th in NASCAR Cup standings, a two-time DAYTONA 500 Champion (2009, 2012).

If any of them win, Byron or DiBenedetto are out. You also can’t count out guys like Bubba Wallace (2nd in 2018 Daytona 500), Ty Dillon (3 top 6’s in last 5 Daytona starts), Corey LaJoie (2 consecutive Daytona top 10’s), Michael McDowell (3 top 10’s last 6 Daytona starts) or Chris Buescher (4 top 10’s last 6 Daytona starts, 3 of which top 5’s, 3rd in February).

But, I also wouldn’t put it past one of the top guys to win either. Ryan Blaney was second in February and has three straight top two finishes on superspeedway’s. He won at Tallladega this past June.

Joey Logano won his Duel in February and has 19 top 10 finishes (5 wins, 4 runner-ups) since the Fall race at Talladega in 2015. Kevin Harvick has seven wins, all since the break, has 11 top five finishes in his last 12 starts on the season and was fifth back in February.

A couple of favorites I wouldn’t risk on is Chase Elliott (0 top 10’s in 9 Daytona starts) and Martin Truex Jr. (4 top 5’s in 61 superspeeday starts, 0 wins). While they enter on hot streaks this season, don’t risk on them this weekend.

BETTING DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

Last weekend you were wise to just bet the favorites at Dover. This weekend, you’d be wise to bet sleepers and longshots. I mean, it’s Daytona so the odds are already in your favor, even with favorites, but more so this weekend with this being the final regular season race. The playoffs are set on Saturday night and if any one that hasn’t already won this season wins, they get a playoff berth.

That’s why this race is going to be an intense one that could lead to a surprise winner. I mean, just look at recent Daytona winners. Kurt Busch/Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2017 races), Austin Dillon/Erik Jones (2018 races) and Justin Haley (July 2019).

Denny Hamlin has won each of the last two Daytona 500’s but has never won the summer race. Just twice since 1982 has someone swept both Daytona races in the same year. So, Hamlin (+650) being the favorite doesn’t have good odds to do so.

Everyone else is +1000 or back. That’s good news.

STAT TO WATCH

Just once over the last nine Daytona points paying races has the winner come from a top five starting spot.

THEY SAID IT

“I have ended up at the infield care center the last two years there,” Matt DiBenedetto said as he sits on the playoff bubble at +9 entering Daytona. “We keep getting caught up in everyone’s mess.

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