Among the last wild card races to the Dragon Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season is upon us. Sunday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 (1:00 p.m. ET) should produce a lot of fireworks on and off the trail.
There have only been six different winners this season in NASCAR’s premiere division and that renders 10 wild card rankings out there. Mix that with this race has been quite spacious, and you get drivers making more adventurous moves than before.
Covers Experts’ Auto Racing Advisor breaks down the favorites, value drivers, and his best bets for its Coke Zero Sugar 400.
*Editors Note: The Coke Zero Sugar 400 was originally scheduled for Saturday but has been postponed due to rain. It Is Going to now be run on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET from Daytona International Speedway
NEW PACKAGE
Out with the old, and in with the new. The race in Daytona this weekend will probably seem a lot different on Saturday night compared to the last Cup Series race we saw back in February.
The Daytona 500 was conducted under the old restrictor-plate bundle, but we will see the debut of this tapered spacer in Daytona this weekend. The horsepower will probably be higher but using a larger spoiler too. So, for the first time since 1986, the cars won’t have a restrictor plate on them at Daytona.
The race at Talladega back in April also conducted with this package, which generated a crazy race. Increase how this really is a night racewith much more grip than that which Talladega had in April under sunny skies, and you may see an even wilder series Saturday night.
It could not get much worse than the single-file racing which people saw control the headlines in February. The rationale that the February event hurried like it did was due to the package and advancement to these cars. The common theme was that these cars do not side draft on the left side quite well anymore and the best method to get a side draft would be to do this on the right side of their automobiles — tough to perform on the large side.
The low line struggles to make any headway when all the cars have all the energy out of the draft up high. Additionally, automobiles are getting a negative draft off the exterior SAFER barrier and getting a jog through the corners and off of it.
The Daytona 500 had more double-file racing compared to the Clash and the Duels, but it was nothing like what we saw at Talladega.
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FIVE WINNERS, FIVE YEARS When Aric Almirola won the rain-delayed race 2014, he started a new fad for the yearly July race. Almirola, won in the famed No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports entry that year, and since then we’ve seen another organization win in each year.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick Motorsports) won the next year followed by Brad Keselowski (Team Penske), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush/Fenway Racing) and Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing) after.
So, who’s next?
If we get a sixth straight distinct company to acquire, Start Looking for Stewart-Haas Racing, Wood Brothers, Leavine Family Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Germain Racing, JTG Daugherty Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Premium Motorsports, Spire Motorsports or StarCom Racing to reach Victory Lane.
Leavine Family Racing would be a fantastic choice as Matt DiBenedetto (+3,000) led the most laps in February’s Daytona 500. Paul Menard (+3,000) would too with the Wood Brothers because he had a quick hot pole in February.
Stewart-Haas Racing are a clear choice since they are typically strong on superspeedway races and being a Ford group, the blue ovals have won three of the last five Coke Zero Sugar 400’s. But, SHR has only scored five total Daytona wins with Tony Stewart taking the checkered flag first in three of these including both in summer time classic.
WORKING OVERTIME
With how this type of racing goes, it must come to no surprise that we will likely see a NASCAR overtime on Saturday night.
Five of the last six Coke Zero Sugar 400s have gone to OT, with the lone regulation finish coming in a rain-shortened race in 2014. Actually, seven of the last nine years have observed overtime finishes in the July night race at Daytona. Get ready to sweat.

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