Coke Zero Sugar 400 Predictions, Betting Odds, Picks
- Former Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon gets a final chance to secure a Playoff spot.
- Denny Hamlin will try to end his drought at one of his favorite race tracks.
- Can Kyle Larson pick up his first superspeedway victory? He’s won everywhere else.
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As NASCAR Cup Series drivers head for Daytona International Speedway for Saturday night’s regular-season cutoff race, 15 of the 16 berths in the 10-race Playoff already have been claimed.
Tyler Reddick currently occupies the final Playoff-eligible position by 25 points over Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon, but there are 13 other drivers behind them in the standings who can steal the final Playoff spot with a win.
The Coke Zero Sugar will be contested over 160 laps (400 miles), with stage breaks scheduled after 50 and 100 laps. William Byron is the defending winner of the race.
How to Watch Coke Zero Sugar 400
|Coke Zero Sugar 400 Information|
|Race||Coke Zero Sugar 400 NASCAR Cup Series race|
|Location||Daytona International Speedway|
|Time||Saturday, August 28, 7 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||NBC|
It’s Tyler Reddick vs. Austin Dillon for the Final Playoff Spot—Maybe
In all likelihood, the final NASCAR Cup Series Playoff spot will come down to a battle between Richard Childress Racing teammates Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon.
Reddick currently controls the final Playoff-eligible position, leading Dillon by 25 points. Those two drivers are the only two competitors who can advance to the postseason on points.
In fact, Reddick can clinch the final Playoff spot by scoring 31 points in the Coke Zero Sugar 400—if no driver below him on the Playoff grid happens to win the race. But that’s a huge “if.” The 13 drivers who can advance only by winning are likely to produce a wild and crazy finish to the cutoff event.
Similarly, Reddick and Dillon can advance by winning, and in that instance, Dillon is the more likely candidate. The second of Dillon’s three wins came in the 2018 Daytona 500, and Dillon sports and average finish of 14.8 at the 2.5-mile track to Reddick’s 27.8.
Accordingly, we like Dillon to win the race at +1300, a nice payoff if he can duplicate the feat William Byron pulled off last year—winning the final regular-season race to advance to the Playoff.
Denny Hamlin Is Great at Daytona, But He’s Never Been a Summer Man
Though Denny Hamlin hasn’t won a NASCAR Cup Series championship, the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota already is guaranteed a place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame by virtue of his three Daytona 500 victories and 44 career wins.
Hamlin was first to the finish line seven times last year, but in 2021, he is winless through 25 regular-season races—though he’s still in the fight for the regular-season championship.
As good as Hamlin is in February, however, we don’t expect him to win Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400, even though he’s the favorite at +750 according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Hamlin has never won the summer 400-miler at the World Center of Racing.
We’d rather put our money across the board on Hamlin’s teammate, Kyle Busch (+1600 to win, +525 to finish top 3 and +270 to finish top 5). Busch has the highest average driver rating in this event at 91.8.
Can Kyle Larson Claim His First Cup Win on a Superspeedway?
Whether it’s asphalt or dirt, Kyle Larson can win anywhere—except on a superspeedway. In 27 combined starts at Daytona and Talladega, he has a total of seven top 10s and no top fives.
So why is Larson second choice to win Saturday’s race (+1100 at DraftKings Sportsbook)? The only justification is that Larson is driving Hendrick Motorsports equipment for the first time this year.
But in the Coke Zero Sugar 400, that won’t be enough to get Larson to Victory Lane. We’re more partial to the drivers who have more respectable records at the superspeedways.
However, Larson can secure the regular-season championship by retaining any part of his 28-point lead over Denny Hamlin. We’re betting that will happen, despite Hamlin’s superiority at Daytona.
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]