Race: Coke Zero Sugar 400
Date: July 7th
Venue: Daytona International Speedway
2018 Winner: Erik Jones (3:13:12)
Daytona International Speedway. This track was built in 1959 by William France Sr, it is more open allowing drivers to really open up as the inaugural Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of 2017. Lights were introduced in 1998 and the track was most recently repaved in 2010. The track runs 31 degree high banks and is 2.5 miles long. At courses that open up like this and Talladega look for racers who do best under the restrictor plate races.
Denny Hamlin (third selection this year) — I’m going to be honest, Denny has not fared well here finishing outside the top 20 the last two years here but I have a hunch given his recent races (with two top six finishes in his last four races) that he’s in for a top five finish.
Kurt Busch (fifth selection this year) — If you take out the issue he ran into last year at Daytona, he had a good streak going with three straight years in the top 20. He has had four finishes in the top 20 in his last five races but only one in the top 10, I see him correcting that this weekend.
High Risk / High Reward
Paul Menard (fourth selection this year) — His records at Daytona are very up and down, he averaged 27th in 2016, 4th in 2017 and 17th last year. Honestly it’s his recent track record where he finished outside the top 20 in back to back races that has me optimistic that he is going to rebound. His year has been too strong for this minor blip to be the new normal for him.
Ryan Newman (second selection this year) — Ryan has about the best two year Daytona average among active drivers with an average finish around 10th place. He comes into the Coke Zero Sugar 400 with five consecutive top 20 races (and two within the top 10).
The Dark Horse
Darrell Wallace Jr. (first selection this year) — As a rookie here last year he averaged 8th place at Daytona, that’s honestly about as good as it gets among racers here.
Favorite: Avg Finish 12th (31st Percent)
High Risk/High Reward: Avg Finish 12th (32nd Percent)
Dark Horse: Avg Finish 19th (51st Percent)