The NASCAR Cup Series regular season comes to an end on Saturday, Aug. 28, with the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Several drivers will fight for the remaining playoff spot, but one that has already clinched remains the favorite. Denny Hamlin has the best odds to win.
BetMGM released the early odds ahead of the race weekend in Florida. These numbers did not take into account the starting order, which was not yet public at the time. Instead, the odds reflected the history of success at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Hamlin has won the Daytona 500 three times during his career, which propelled him to the top of the leaderboard with 7-1 odds to win.
Along with his three wins in the season-opening spectacle, Hamlin has 11 finishes inside the top five at Daytona. This list includes third in the 2020 Coke Zero Sugar 400 and fifth in the wreck-filled 2021 Daytona 500 that Michael McDowell won in wild fashion.
Hamlin will now strive to reach Victory Lane once again while trying to steal the regular-season championship from Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson. The race will take place on Saturday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. ET. NBC will provide coverage for the 160 laps of action.
Team Penske Drivers Will Battle Hamlin
The list of drivers with solid odds at Daytona is fairly top-heavy and features men who have previously reached Victory Lane in 2021. Chase Elliott, William Byron, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, and Brad Keselowski all have 12-1 odds to win at the track and add even more playoff points to their totals.
Of the trio from Team Penske, only Logano and Keselowski have won at Daytona International Speedway. The driver of the No. 22 Ford Mustang captured the 2015 Daytona 500 and added a Crown Jewel to his career resume. Keselowski, on the other hand, previously reached Victory Lane in the 2017 Coke Zero 400.
Blaney has yet to win at Daytona International Speedway, having posted two top-five finishes in 12 starts at the track. He finished second behind Hamlin in the 2020 Daytona 500 and then took sixth in the 2020 Coke Zero Sugar 400.
However, Blaney is currently riding high after locking up an exciting win at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 22. He jumped to the front of the pack on the final restart, moving ahead of Byron and Larson, holding them both off for the final 10 laps. He crossed the finish line 0.077 seconds ahead of Byron and secured the first-ever multi-win season of his Cup Series career while getting a feel for the regular-season finale.
“I think any speedway race, it’s up in the air, right? You can do your job to the best of your ability all day, just get caught up in someone else’s mess,” Blaney told reporters during a Zoom session after the win at Michigan. “Those things just happen. The biggest thing we can do is try to control what we can control, try to get as many stage points as we can, try to get a win, just try to finish that thing and get a good starting spot for Darlington.”
A Previous Winner Faces 20-1 Odds
There are several drivers that are eligible to lock up a spot in the playoffs simply by winning at Daytona, which will be a very difficult task. One example is Austin Dillon, the driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
The man who won the 2018 Daytona 500 started the race weekend at Michigan in strong fashion. He finished the first stage in the third position and then the second stage in sixth. However, a collision with Keselowski after the green and white checkered flag waved sent him into the wall and destroyed his stock car.
Dillon now sits 25 points behind teammate Tyler Reddick for the final spot in the 16-driver playoff field. He is essentially in a must-win situation in order to return to the playoffs yet again but sits in the top half of the field with 20-1 odds. The reason for this number is that Dillon has one win, three top-five finishes, and eight top-10s at the track.
Given his history at the 2.5-mile track, the expectation is that Dillon will contend for stage wins and — potentially — the checkered flag. Though he will have to avoid the numerous wrecks that will inevitably take place over the course of the race. The last nine trips to Daytona have featured at least six cautions, including 14 in the 2017 Coke Zero 400.
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