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NextEra Energy 250: Zane Smith Looks to Jump-Start Another Remarkable Season

Written by: Reid Spencer
Updated February 17, 2023
12 min read
  • Chase Elliott is “slumming” at Daytona as the prohibitive Truck favorite.
  • Never underestimate Grant Enfinger on a NASCAR superspeedway.
  • Reigning champ Zane Smith looks to jump-start another great season.

NextEra Energy 250 Betting Odds

Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.


Chase Elliott


Zane Smith


Ty Majeski


Grant Enfinger


Corey Heim


Ben Rhodes


Corey LaJoie


Stewart Friesen


Christian Eckes


Carson Hocevar


Matt DiBenedetto


Parker Kligerman


Our Picks for the NextEra Energy 250

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NextEra Energy 250 Predictions

NextEra Energy 250 Predictions

Interloper Chase Elliott Is the Odds-On Favorite. Should He Be?

The 2023 season is one of the massive realignments in NASCAR’s Truck Series. First and foremost, Craftsman has returned as the title sponsor, replacing Camping World.

The field also is replete with driver and manufacturer changes. Accompanying Kyle Busch’s move from Joe Gibbs Racing to Richard Childress Racing is the switch of his Kyle Busch Motorsports truck team from Toyota to Chevrolet.

ThorSport Racing returns to the Ford camp from Toyota, while the newly-christened TRICON Garage picks up the Toyota banner.

All that said, the season-opening NextEra Energy 250 will feature a NASCAR Cup Series champion in its midst when Chase Elliott gets behind the wheel of the No. 35 McAnally Hilgeman Chevrolet.

As the most formidable veteran talent in the field for Friday night’s race, Elliott probably deserves to be the favorite.

But you have to weigh the utter unpredictability of speedway racing against Elliott’s obvious acumen, and that balance favors betting on a driver at higher odds than the +650 Elliott carries at DraftKings Sportsbook.

So we recommend looking elsewhere for your winner.  

Never Underestimate the Superspeedway Prowess of Grant Enfinger

Why would we focus on Grant Enfinger when the driver of the No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet finished 29th in both superspeedway races last season?

The answer: those races were an aberration, and both results stemmed from late crashes that were not of Enfinger’s making.

The Alabama driver is an experienced veteran who brings ample superspeedway skills to the table. His resume includes one win at Daytona and one at sister track Talladega, as well as four top fives and six top 10s in 17 combined starts at the two facilities.

Accordingly, we give Enfinger considerable respect at +1000 via DraftKings Sportsbook. But he’s our second choice to win the race, not our first.

Zane Smith Looks to Jump-Start Another Remarkable Season

The 2022 campaign hardly could have gone better for Front Row Motorsports Ford driver Zane Smith.

He opened the season with a victory at Daytona International Speedway. He closed the season with a victory at Phoenix Raceway, securing the series championship in the process.

Smith won four races in 2022 and finished second five times to post an outstanding average finish of 7.7 for the season.

He comes to Daytona brimming with confidence, and by the time he gets behind the wheel of his truck for the first time on Friday, he will have run laps in a NASCAR Cup Series car as he tries to race his way into the Daytona 500.

All things considered, we like Smith to repeat as the winner of the Daytona season opener at +1000 via DraftKings.

And for an extreme long shot, we think Matt Crafton is worth a look at +4000. The three-time series champ doesn’t have a glowing record on superspeedways, but he’s a 23-year veteran with a new manufacturer (Ford) and a new crew chief (Shane Wilson).

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How to Watch the NextEra Energy 250

  • Race: NextEra Energy 250
  • Location: Daytona International Speedway
  • Time: Friday, February 17, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: FS1
Image for Reid Spencer


Reid Spencer

220 Articles

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]

More info on Reid Spencer
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