Wager Alarm Best Bets: Coke Zero Sugar 400
Matt Selz studies the track, the drivers, the odds, and everything else to bring you the best bets for NASCAR's Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Daytona Baby! Plate racing at its finest is happening under the lights on Saturday night. If there is one thing that’s predictable about this track, it’s that it’s unpredictable from race to race. You’ll notice that by the odds and how the “favorites” stack up against other recent races we’ve looked at.
There are 160 laps in the 400-mile race on Saturday around the 2.5-mile layout that makes up Daytona International Speedway. That’s an eternity to survive in the chaos of the pack racing environs that this track requires.
Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano - 7/1
The teammates at Penske are the two best plate racers in the field each time we get to a plate track. Keselowski and Logano are starting in the top-three on Saturday, Logano on the pole and Keselowski P3, with the Pole Sitter having won at Daytona 18 previous times. They don’t have the best histories in this specific race, but their experience on plate tracks and their aggressive nature this week, they’ve stated it in press conferences, make them appealing at 7/1 odds a piece.
Denny Hamlin - 10/1
Hamlin won the Daytona 500 earlier this year and has two top-10 finishes in the last five July races here. His 11.4 average finish in the last 10 Daytona races is the second best in the field this week and with him starting P6 for the race he should be able to stick up front most of the night. Going off at 10/1 is a nice return for a sneaky good plate racer in Hamlin.
Chase Elliott - 12/1
Elliott is the most recent winner on a plate track this year as he won the Talladega race a few months back. He hasn’t had the most success at Daytona just yet but with the new found confidence from the win at ‘Dega that can change things this week. He will start P7 on Saturday placing him in a good position to stay up front and could pay off on the 12/1 odds.
Clint Bowyer - 13/1
Bowyer is one of only two drivers in the field this week to have four top-10s in the last five July races. He also has an average position differential of +7.2 meaning starting at P16 he has a great shot of getting into the top-five and then finishing it off with his first win of the year. He’s also had a very fast car the last few weeks, but has been derailed by mechanical issues.
Ricky Stenhouse - 17/1
Stenhouse is one of the most aggressive drivers in the field on any kind of track but especially plate tracks which works in his favor and has led to his two wins at plate tracks in the last few years. Stenhouse is starting P19 this week but that hasn’t been a problem in the past since he’s come from the middle of the pack to win before in these races. The odds matching his car number is a nice payday if it hits come Saturday night.
Erik Jones - 25/1
Frankly, I’m shocked to see these odds here for Jones. He won this race last year and then finished third at the Daytona 500 in February and then started P27 at Talladega while finishing P19 showing he can move up once again. On Saturday, he will roll off the grid in P17. When he won here last year he started 29th and in the 500 he started 28th so starting 17th should make moving up that much easier.
Austin Dillon - 40/1
Dillon has a win in the Daytona 500 and he is the other driver with four top-10s in the last five July races. The RCR driver shines at plate tracks with six top-10s here in the last 10 races overall and he finished in the top-15 at Talladega this year as well. He will start P21 on Saturday and could be a nice long shot play at these odds if he gets his second win at Daytona in his career.
Bubba Wallace - 88/1
Wallace doesn’t have a ton of experience in the Cup series at plate races, but he has a very good history at them. In his first Daytona 500, in 2018, he finished P2 and has an average finish of 14.5 in his two July races here. The RPM team is one that puts on a good show at plate tracks and with him starting P29, the odds aren’t shocking, but keep in mind it’s where Erik Jones won from a year ago in this race.
David Ragan and Michael McDowell - 88/1
The Front Row Motorsports teammates join the gaggle of drivers at 88/1 this week but it’s surprising to see them in this part of the odds list since they both are very good plate racers. Ragan has an average finish of 14.2 in the last five July races and McDowell tops that with an 11.8 average finish and seven top-15s in the last 10 Daytona races overall. They also both finished top-six in this race in 2017 after starting P30 and P23 respectively. McDowell and Ragan have made a habit of consistently running inside the top-10 at these plate races making their 88/1 odds all that more appealing.
Clint Bowyer Top-3 Finish - 39/10
Bowyer finished second in this race in 2017 as that was part of his four-straight top-10 finishes here. A near 4/1 return on a top-three finish from Bowyer this week with him starting P16 is nice upside as a small quick hitting bet.
Erik Jones Top-3 Finish - 15/2
Jones, as stated above, finished P3 in the Daytona 500 and won this race last year while starting further back in the field than where he is starting on Saturday. Jones is an underrated plate racer and at 7.5/1 return for a place bet, it’s a nice play.