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NASCAR heads to Daytona International Speedway for its annual Independence Day weekend tradition, the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Sunday afternoon’s race features the second race run under the new superspeedway rules package.
The first, at Talladega, produced fantastic racing similar to traditional restrictor plate races of the past.
I expect the same for Daytona, where the draft should play a large role, keeping cars packed tightly together. These racing conditions always lead to fear of the “Big One” where multiple cars — sometimes numbering in the double digits — are taken out in one major accident.
The draft and the potential for calamity make longshot value quite relevant at Daytona.
Ignore practice times when handicapping a superspeedway race — the draft renders practice irrelevant. Instead, look for drivers who have good superspeedway history and may be undervalued by the market.
Only one driver can win, but multiple longshots have chances at top-three, top-five and top-10 finishes.
Let’s get into the best futures bets for tonight’s Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+2000) to Win
William Hill is offering a generous price on Stenhouse, a two-time superspeedway winner. Stenhouse is an incredibly aggressive driver who likes to lead these types of races. Stenhouse led twice at Daytona and three times at Talladega this year, confirming his drive to be out front.
In 2019, outside of superspeedways, Stenhouse has been strong at the races where the draft matters most — 1.5-mile tracks at night or with low tire wear. Now we’re at a race where the draft plays the ultimate role.
It’s reasonable to bet Stenhouse down to +1500 to win.
Aric Almirola (+2200) to Win
Both of Almirola’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins came at superspeedways. He won the 2014 edition of this race, and was leading last year’s Daytona 500 coming to the checkered flag before contact with Austin Dillon.
Almirola hasn’t had quite the season he had last year, finishing in a worse position in nine of his 17 races, while currently residing 11th in the point standings.
However, Almirola led 27 laps at Talladega but finished only ninth as the Chevrolet team strategy placed its cars in a better position to dominate the end of the race.
I’d bet him down to +1600.
Erik Jones (+3000) to Win
Jones currently sits outside of the playoff picture at 17th in the point standings. I believe his subpar performance is driving his long odds at MGM properties.
However, Jones is a fantastic superspeedway racer with a win-or-go-home record in these races. He’s either crashed out or finished inside the top nine in every superspeedway race of his Cup career except one.
Not only are his playoff hopes on the line, but his future at Joe Gibbs Racing is in doubt. This race might just be the antidote Jones needs in a year of uncertainty and struggle.
There’s value here down to +2500.
Other Futures Bets
Here are other futures bets I like for the Coke Zero Sugar 400. I will add to these as more lines become available.
- Corey LaJoie top-10 finish (+700)