The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season has been unforgettable. From the sheer number of drivers to win a race (13 in total) to the dominance of Kyle Larson and even some of the drivers who have yet to reach victory lane (cue Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick), there has certainly been a little bit of everything. Saturday night sees the drivers and teams return to the same track where the season began: Daytona International Speedway. Both the final spot in the NASCAR Playoffs and the regular-season points championship still hang in the balance. Bettors have plenty of storylines to monitor when trying to handicap what should be a thrilling Coke Zero Sugar 400.
One playoff spot remains. pic.twitter.com/cJMxWgxBKF
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 26, 2021
The following outlines some of the best NASCAR betting picks for Saturday evening’s Coke Zero 400. Analysis of the top odds and picks to win outright is also included.
Coke Zero Sugar 400 Best Bets
The following sections detail the top NASCAR betting picks for Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway.
Top 10 Finish: Michael McDowell (+160 at DraftKings)
It’s only appropriate that we kick off this week’s top plays with this year’s Daytona 500 winner, Michael McDowell. While his victory in February might have been his first career NASCAR Cup Series win, McDowell had proven his ability to run well at the superspeedways long ago. In fact, his average finish of 11.0 over the last ten races at Daytona is the best among all current full-time drivers. He has five top-10s and a whopping nine top-15s over that span.
Even when he isn’t crossing the line first, McDowell is consistently staying out of trouble and surviving to post a solid finish. Bettors should expect more of the same from the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports team this Saturday. A +160 price on a top-10 is tremendous value on one of the best plate racers in the business.
Note: NASCAR no longer uses restrictor plates in the superspeedway setup but being a strong “plate racer” has a much better ring to it than “tapered engine spacer racer”.
Best Finish in Group 2: Ryan Blaney (+275 at FanDuel)
Next up, the momentum special. Sure, Daytona International Speedway is a very different beast than Michigan. That said, it’s hard to come into Saturday’s night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 with more momentum than last week’s winner, Ryan Blaney. Chevrolets ran out front for much of the day at Michigan, but Blaney was able to get to the lead on a late restart and extend Ford’s dominant streak at their home track. Chevy won’t have near the advantage at Daytona as they have on the low horsepower tracks this season, making the Group 2 betting odds very compelling.
At +275, Blaney is the third choice in the group. He sits behind the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Kyle Larson (+210) and Chase Elliott (+240) and ahead of another Ford driver, Kevin Harvick (+300). Of the four drivers in the group, Blaney’s average finish of 19.2 in the last ten races at Daytona is behind only Kyle Larson. Looking at a more recent sample size, Blaney has finished second and sixth in two of the last three races here. Drafting help figures to be no issue as Blaney’s Team Penske running mates, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Matt DiBenedetto, are all excellent superspeedway racers. So long as he stays out of trouble, Blaney has a great chance to beat the competition in this group on Saturday.
Top Toyota Finisher: Bubba Wallace (+600 at DraftKings)
Bettors have any number of ways to play against the Coke Zero Sugar 400 favorite, Denny Hamlin. One unique option available at DraftKings is to pick another Toyota driver to be the manufacturer’s top finisher. There are only seven Camrys in the field, two of which are part-time teams that could struggle to keep up with the draft for the entire race. Despite what the odds may suggest, the top choice to beat Hamlin has to be Bubba Wallace.
There have certainly been growing pains for Wallace and 23XI Racing in the team’s first year of existence. With only one top-10 finish on the season to date, it’s no surprise that Wallace’s current points standing shows that he must win on Saturday to qualify for the NASCAR Playoffs. While he has never won at Daytona, Wallace has shown his ability to run well at the superspeedways. In eight Cup Series starts at ‘The World Center of Racing’, Wallace has a pair of top-5 finishes and an average placing of 15.1. This really feels like a head-to-head between Wallace and his team’s co-owner, Hamlin. After all, the other two veteran Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., hate plate racing. Meanwhile, Christopher Bell lacks experience and certainly won’t be the top Toyota if he is aggressive early like he was in this year’s Daytona 500. With a 6-1 return available, look to back the No. 23 car to be the first Camry over the line.
NASCAR Betting Odds to Win | Daytona
The table below offers a comparison of the NASCAR betting odds to win the Coke Zero 400 across three major U.S. sportsbooks. The top 30 drivers in terms of odds are included.
Favorite: Denny Hamlin (+850 at FanDuel)
A quick glance at the odds to win the Coke Zero Sugar 400 sees Denny Hamlin stand out as the only driver in single digits. His pedigree for racing at superspeedways, particularly Daytona, precedes him. Hamlin has won the penultimate Daytona 500 three times in his career. Oddly enough, he has never reached victory lane in this 400-mile race. Nonetheless, his average finish of 13.5 over the last ten races here is second only to Michael McDowell among full-time NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Furthermore, Hamlin has two wins and four top-5s in the last five races. +850 odds to win at Daytona are far from a “value play”, but Hamlin is more than deserving of being the outright favorite. Plus, after signing Kurt Busch to be a second driver for his 23XI racing team, co-owned by Michael Jordan, Hamlin figures to be pretty fired up behind the wheel Saturday night.
We got our guy.
— 23XI Racing (@23XIRacing) August 27, 2021
Value Bet: Matt DiBenedetto (+2600 at FanDuel)
Bettors looking to back Matt DiBenedetto have three key things working in their favor this week. First, momentum is on the side of the No. 21 team. DiBenedetto was solid again last week on his way to a sixth-place finish. One would have to go all the way back to the month of June to find the last time he finished worse than 11th in a race. Second, despite the recent run of consistency, DiBenedetto remains in desperation mode. Thanks to a horrendous early-season stretch, his only shot at qualifying for the NASCAR Playoffs is to win the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Finally, as a pseudo-teammate of the Penske Fords, DiBenedetto figures to have plenty of help when it comes to drafting. The Penske camp has established itself as the team to beat on superspeedways. While DiBenedetto technically drives for the affiliate Wood Brothers Racing team, he also has shown a canny ability to run well in the draft. He figures to be in a position to challenge for the win at the end.
Longshot Hopeful: Ryan Newman (+3300 at FOX Bet)
It has been a season to forget for Ryan Newman. It also stands to be his final year driving the No. 6 car for Roush Fenway Racing, as Brad Keselowski is set to take over the ride in 2022. Newman has just one top-10 finish in the last eight races. In fact, he hasn’t finished better than 22nd in any of those other seven starts. And yet, the veteran has been taking money across the betting market to win the Coke Zero Sugar 400 outright. Newman certainly has been on both sides of the spectrum at Daytona International Speedway over the years. The former Daytona 500 winner almost lost his life in a last-lap wreck here last February. When it comes down to it, Newman’s average finish of 16.2 over the last ten Daytona races is one of the best among active drivers. He has five top-10s and two top-5s over that stretch. With superspeedways being the best tracks to bet on improbable longshots, don’t count Newman out this weekend.
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