Coke Zero Sugar 400: Daytona Picks, Predictions, and Race Preview

It's do-or-die time for those on NASCAR's playoff bubble as the Cup Series contenders battle it out at Daytona for the regular-season finale. Get the lowdown on our Coke Zero Suger 400 picks, including a specialist who needs to deliver this weekend.

Last Updated: Aug 25, 2022 9:18 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Bubba Wallace Coke Zero Sugar 400 NASCAR odds
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

"If you ain't first, you're last!" may be a gimmicky quote from a satirical comedy, but the Talladega Nights punchline applies heavily to one Bubba Wallace at this weekend's Coke Zero Sugar 400, on a superspeedway no less.

One of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 odds leaders, Wallace sits just outside the playoff bubble, and essentially needs an outright win in the season's final race to qualify for the playoffs.

Luckily for him, he's a specialist on these tracks, and one of our Coke Zero Sugar 400 picks for this Saturday, August 27 regular-season closer.

Coke Zero Sugar 400 best bets

Picks made on 8/24/22 at 12:55 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick above to jump to the full analysis.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Coke Zero Sugar 400 favorites    

Chase Elliott (+1,000)

He was runner-up in the 2019 Coke Zero Sugar 400, runner-up in the 2020 Daytona 500, eighth in last year’s 400, 10th in this past year’s Daytona 500, to go along with sixth in Atlanta 1, seventh in Talladega, and a win in Atlanta 2.

Denny Hamlin (+1,200)

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

Ryan Blaney (+1,200)

He won the summer Daytona race last year and had two wins prior to that at Talladega. Six of his last seven Daytona results have been inside of the Top 6. However, only five drivers have ever posted consecutive summer race wins at Daytona International Speedway: Fireball Roberts (1962-1963), A.J. Foyt (1964-1965), Cale Yarborough (1967-1968) David Pearson (1972 – 1974) and Tony Stewart (2005-2006). Can Blaney be the sixth?

Bubba Wallace (+1,500)

He was runner-up in each of his last two Daytona starts, and he won the Fall Talladega race last year. Definitely worth a look at this price.

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Coke Zero Sugar 400 longshot picks

(Editor's Note: Since this is Daytona, where anything can happen, we've beefed up our longshot picks this week to include some drivers at longer odds, for bettors seeking a potentially huge payout in a race where it's worth digging deep on the board.)

Brad Keselowski (+2,500)

You can never count him out on superspeedways. He was a last-lap crash away from, at the very least, a Top-2 finish in the 2021 Daytona 500. Keselowski also led lot of laps in this February’s Daytona 500 (finishing ninth) including a Duel win three days prior. He won this race in July 2016.

Aric Almirola (+3,000)

Definitely one of the strongest of the sleepers. Almirola has two Top-8 finishes in four superspeedway starts in 2022, including a fifth-place run this past February. Two of his three Cup wins were on superspeedways.

Austin Dillon (+3,000)

He won a Duel in 2021 and was third in the Great American race that year as well. He’s also a past Daytona 500 champion (2018) and was runner-up this past April in Talladega.

Michael McDowell (+4,000)

He won the 2021 Daytona 500, was fifth in the 2019 Daytona 500, and ninth in the 2018 Daytona 500. Furthermore, since July 2014, the Arizona native has seven Top-10 finishes in his last 15 Daytona starts, and with teams like Leavine Family Racing and Front Row Motorsports at that. He was seventh in February, as well as eighth in Talladega this spring, too.

Justin Haley (+5,000)

Among the top superspeedway racers in the sport today. His only Cup win came here in Daytona a couple of years ago in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. He also just won the Xfinity race at Daytona last August. He’s had eight career NASCAR national series victories and five of them have been at either Talladega or Daytona. That’s saying something.

Corey LaJoie (+10,000)

He was eighth and ninth the last two years in the Daytona 500, sixth in the 2019 Coke Zero Sugar 400, had a fast car in last year’s race, and was a lap away from an Atlanta win last month.

Coke Zero Sugar 400 fades

Joey Logano (+1,300)

These have been arguably his worst tracks this season. Logano was 21st in the Daytona 500, ninth in Atlanta 1, 32nd in Talladega 1, and 26th in Atlanta 2. He was also 26th and 27th, respectively, in the pair of Daytona races in 2020, and 12th and 23rd in 2021. In this race in general, Logano has finished 35th, 39th, 25th, 27th, and 23rd in his last five tries.

Austin Cindric (+1,500)

The last two years for a Daytona sweep? 1982 and 2013. Buddy Baker and Jimmie Johnson accomplished those feats, I don’t see Austin Cindric adding his name to that list on Saturday night. He’s a better fantasy play after a first in the Daytona 500 and third in Atlanta 2.

Kyle Busch (+1,500)

He’s finished 20th or worse in seven of his last 10 Daytona starts. He was 34th and 33rd in 2020, 14th and 34th last year, and sixth in February. He’s 0-for-17 in the Great American Race.

Coke Zero Sugar 400 matchup pick

Ryan Blaney (-140) vs. Martin Truex Jr. (+120)

Blaney is at his best on superspeedways with three career wins on them. Truex is at his worst with 0 wins in 71 tries. 

PICK: Blaney (-120)

Coke Zero Sugar 400 preview

The final regular season race is here, and the trends are not on Ryan Blaney or Martin Truex Jr’s side, for different reasons.

Just five drivers have posted consecutive summer race wins at Daytona International Speedway: Fireball Roberts (1962-1963), A.J. Foyt (1964-1965), Cale Yarborough (1967-1968) David Pearson (1972 – 1974), and Tony Stewart (2005-2006). Blaney is looking to become the sixth.

Meanwhile, Truex Jr is a combined 0-for-71 between Daytona, Talladega, and the two races at Atlanta this year. 

To make matters worse for them, since the ‘Win and You’re In’ format to the Playoffs was initiated in 2016, Erik Jones’ 2018 summer race win and William Byron in 2020 are the only summer races at Daytona to catapult a driver into the postseason — the other three winners were either not eligible for the Playoffs due to not competing for a championship in the series (Haley in 2019) or the drivers had already previously won in the same season (Keselowski in 2016, Stenhouse in 2017).

For the Coke Zero Sugar 400, three of the last five winners have earned their first career Cup victories. One of the other two was for just his second. In the Daytona 500, Denny Hamlin has won three of the last seven years, but the other four winners were Austin Dillon (second career win), Kurt Busch (first career restrictor plate win), Michael McDowell (first career Cup win), and Austin Cindric (first career Cup win). 

So, the odds are great for a fluke winner, which is why you should side on a lot of sleepers this weekend. However, you may want to sprinkle in a few favorites too, only because the Top 10 winningest series drivers at Daytona are all also in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Coke Zero Sugar 400  key stats

  • Three of the last four Daytona winners came from Row 3.

  • Each of the last 13 Daytona winners started fifth on back.

  • 12 of the last 15 races on the season were won from the Top 4 rows, and six of the last nine from the Top 5. 

  • Only one Daytona pole winner has won here since 2011 (Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2016).

  • None of the last 11 points-paying Daytona races were won by a series champion.

  • There have been nine straight different winners in the Coke Zero Sugar 400.

Coke Zero Sugar 400 live betting trends to watch

  • In both Stage 1s of Daytona/Talladega this year, the race winner didn’t score stage points in either.

  • In just two of the last 13 races on the season did the eventual winner even finish in the Top 5 of the opening stage.

  • In both Stage 2s of Daytona/Talladega this year, the race winner was sixth (500), ninth (Talladega).

  • 14 of the last 18 races saw the eventual race winner get stage points in the second stage.

  • Since Memorial Day weekend, just once has a stage winner in either stage won a race (Chase Elliott in Atlanta).

  • The race winner didn’t lead a lap at Daytona/Talladega until the final lap.

  • Three of the last four Coke Zero Sugar 400 winners led seven or fewer laps, including two of the three leading just the final lap.

  • In eight of the last 11 races, including three of the last five, the eventual race winner led laps only in the final stage.

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