Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona NASCAR betting preview and best bets: Must-win situation for Bubba Wallace

Bubba Wallace drives his #23 Toyota during the Duels at Daytona
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Matt Selz


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Daytona! The final race of the regular season is upon us in the form of the Coke Zero Sugar 400. There are just two spots left in the 16-car NASCAR playoff field and a new winner on Saturday night could make things very tight for that final spot. It’s quite fitting that the season starts at Daytona International Speedway with the Daytona 500 ends at the World Center of Racing, as well.

Coke Zero Sugar 400 betting strategies

Pure chaos…. That’s what we’re expecting this weekend at Daytona – as we always do. This track, along with Talladega and Atlanta, are known as plate races because of the setups on the cars. All cars in the field are setup to essentially run the same speeds and thus create a big pack of cars drafting around the track together. This means it’s not only exciting to watch moves being made in tight spaces, but it’s also what creates chaos. If one driver gets loose and loses his car, a big wreck is almost always the result.

For betting, how do we avoid the chaos? First, pick drivers who are consistently good at these tracks. That might sound like common sense, but this style of racing is a specific skill and drivers with that skill are the ones that succeed more often. Secondly, we are going to look at longer odds this week as they typically pay off more here than anywhere else. Last year, Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell hit at +6600 and Austin Cindric was a +3000 winner in the 500 this year. So…basically we’re getting a little weird with our bets this week.

Coke Zero 400 outright winner best bets

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Bubba Wallace (+1200)

The last two times the cup drivers have shown up to Daytona in the regular season, Wallace has finished P2. He has won at Talladega and his four top-fives in the last 10 plate races are tied for the most with Chase Elliott and William Byron. That puts him in the class of the field. Add to this the fact that he needs to win to make the playoffs and we have ourselves a nice bet in a typically chaotic race.

William Byron (+1300)

The only driver to win multiple times in the last 10 plate races, including this race a year ago. Byron is also amongst the leaders in top-five finishes in that span, too. While he needed to win last year to make the playoffs and doesn’t need to do that this weekend, he still wants to get back on the right track heading into the playoffs next week. Byron is a threat to land on the pole and as chaotic as these races can be, starting in the top 10 is usually a good recipe for a shot to win.

Brad Keselowski (+2500)

A plate-race master, he’s among the active leaders in wins in this style of racing. He showed up with speed in his new car back at the Daytona 500, where he won the duel and competed well in the race. Every time there is a race at these tracks he is a threat to win because of how he handles himself in the draft. If we add the desperation of needing a win to make the playoffs in his first year with Roush, we’re getting warm. Now toss in that Fords do well historically at these tracks and we are getting even hotter.

Michael McDowell (+4000)

McDowell won the 2021 Daytona 500 and has been in position to win a few other times recently at these tracks. He was always going to have the best shot to clinch a playoff spot at either a plate track or a road race. McDowell came close at the road courses and now comes the final plate-race shot. He has four top-10s in the last 10 plate races — including two in the last four in addition to the win.

Longshot: Corey Lajoie (+10000)

Remember when I said we would get weird? Yep, here it comes. Lajoie is almost never a factor in most races. However, put him on an even playing field with everyone else and his skill at this style of racing shines. He nearly won at Atlanta several races ago until Elliott blocked him on the final lap and ended his day. However, if he had held onto it, that would have been his second top-five finish in the last four plate races. So take a small shot that Lajoie gets his first cup win and a playoff spot.

Best Coke Zero Sugar 400 prop bets

Odds listed are from FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing.

Chase Elliott top-5 finish (+140)

He is the only driver this year to average a finish in the single digits at the four plate races. He is also the only driver with an average finish in the single digits over the last 10 total plate races. That success — plus the speed in the Hendrick cars — makes this too tough of a prop to pass up. He doesn’t need another great finish this weekend, but still stirring over the result at Watkins Glen last weekend we’re likely in store for a strong Elliott showing.

Bubba Wallace top-5 finish (+220)

Given what I said above about his shot at winning this race, it seems logical to hedge with a simple top-five bet. He has pulled off that feat four times in the last 10 races, or 40 percent of the time. These odds say he’s got a 31.25 percent chance to pull it off, which puts the odds in our favor. If we want to double hedge against the win, we can play him for a top Toyota bet at +350, too. The best odds for a prop on Wallace is a top-three finish (+425), which he has done the last two trips here.

Chris Buescher top-10 finish (+125)

Buescher won his duel race at Daytona earlier this year and was racing in the top 10 before late-race chaos broke out in the last couple of plate races. Aside from that, he has four top 10s in the last 10 plate races, which is tied for third most in the field. He will be fighting for a win as his last shot to make the playoffs and that should put him in the top 10 late, hence the payoff. If we are interested in an outright bet, he is going off at +3500 to win.

Corey Lajoie top Chevy (+5000)

Over the last 10 plate-style races, Lajoie has the fourth-best average finish of the Chevys. He was also in position to win at Atlanta in the last plate race on the final lap before Chase Elliott blocked him. Given his successes at prior plate races and the simple fact that all he has to be is the first Bowtie to finish to pay 50x ROI, this is a tasty prop.

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