NASCAR Betting Guide: Coke Zero Sugar 400
Hold onto your butts, everybody. Saturday night's gonna get weird.
The NASCAR Cup Series wraps up its regular season at Daytona in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. You have the natural chaos of a Daytona race, a place everybody wants to win. Then add to that roughly 15 drivers desperate for a win in order to lock down a playoff spot. It's their final shot, and if they don't get the job done here, they're shifting their focus to 2023.
And a lot of those 15 drivers have skills on this track type.
Basically, this promises to be one of the more hectic NASCAR races we've ever seen. That can be scary for us as bettors, but sportsbooks are fully hip to the chaos.
The favorite for this week at FanDuel Sportsbook -- Chase Elliott -- is +1000, meaning his implied odds of winning are 9.1%. Nobody has double-digit win odds, per the bookmakers. They know the brown stuff's about to hit the fan.
Even with sportsbooks accounting for this event's volatility, I still think we've got some undervalued drivers on the odds board. One of them is one of the central figures in the playoff discussion. Let's dive into that and outline some value bets based on FanDuel's odds for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona.
Ryan Blaney to Win (+1200)
As of now, Ryan Blaney is the last driver in the playoffs. That could change if he loses too much ground to Martin Truex Jr. or if we get a 16th winner on the season.
The bad news for Blaney? My model shows 44.4% odds that we get a new winner this week.
The good news? A lot of that (8.8%) comes from him. That's enough to bet him at his 7.7% implied odds.
My model views Blaney as the favorite this week, just a smidge ahead of Elliott. Blaney gets there thanks to the sport's best aggregate average running position on pack tracks this year (8.25). Elliott (9.25) is the only other driver lower than 11.0 in that metric.
Blaney has won 3 of 16 pack races since the start of 2019, including this very race last year. He has been sixth or better four other times, including this year's Daytona 500 -- when a late block by teammate Austin Cindric prevented Blaney from completing a last-lap pass for the win.
Blaney will likely opt to snag stage points this week in order to pad his lead over Truex. But stage points won't prevent him from racing for a win, and the likelihood of a new winner ensures Blaney can't relax. He's going to have to gun it, and as we've seen, that's a dangerous situation for the rest of the field.
Christopher Bell to Win (+2500)
Unlike Blaney, Christopher Bell doesn't have the finishes to back up my model's enthusiasm. He has just one finish better than 13th in 12 career pack races.
But he's constantly lurking at the front. And eventually, the stars will align for him to finally convert with a good finish.
Bell has run 8 of those 12 pack races with Joe Gibbs Racing. He has had a top-11 average running position in 7 of those 8. Granted, the one exception was Daytona this year, and he still hasn't cashed in with a good finish in one of them. But Bell is in contention.
Cashing in on good runs is a skill. It's why guys like Blaney, Denny Hamlin, and Bubba Wallace constantly finish well rather than just running up there. Bell hasn't done that yet. But if we wait until he does, we're not going to catch him at these long odds.
My model puts Bell at 5.6% to win this race, up from his 3.8% implied odds. That's more than enough wiggle room for me to bite and hope that Bell finally is around to battle at the finish.
Erik Jones to Podium (+1100)
At some sites, you can still get Erik Jones at +3500 to win. If you can, it's the best bet of the week, and you should take it.
At FanDuel, specifically, Jones' win odds are +2400. I'm still showing value on that (4.3% for me versus 4.0% implied). But the better value is for him to podium at +1100.
My model puts Jones' podium odds at 12.8%, up from his 8.3% implied odds. It's that high because Jones has mopped up at drafting tracks this year. He trails just Blaney and Elliott in aggregate average running position on drafting tracks. He was leading at Talladega on the final lap, and he had quality runs in both Atlanta races.
Jones is a former Daytona winner, doing that back in 2018 with Joe Gibbs Racing. He has shown this year that the talent is still there when he has a competent car. With the move to the Next-Gen car, Jones has that again, and we can feel good buying into him at relatively long odds.
Mid-Week Addition: David Ragan to Finish Top 10 (+1000)
Back in February, David Ragan pedaled a Rick Ware Racing car to a top-10 finish. He's now back in that car this week, there are three fewer cars in the field, and we might get more chaos.
Ragan might be able to do it again.
Ragan has been a quality pack racer for a long time. He won with Roush Racing back in 2011, and even in his lower-level-equipment days, he has had quality runs. Ragan has three top-10s in the past eight Daytona races, all of which were run in sub-par equipment.
We also saw Ragan push out decent runs at Talladega and Atlanta, tracks where equipment matters a bit more than Daytona. His car isn't great, but it's good enough to get a top-10 here. My model is likely too high on Ragan, putting his top-10 odds at 21.0%, but we've got plenty of wiggle room above his 9.1% implied odds. That's a big enough gap for me to trust the numbers and go with Ragan in this market.