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NASCAR tackles Daytona Saturday night
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 7/5/2014  at  1:24:00 AM
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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola

Saturday, July 5 7:30 p.m. EDT
Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach, FL

The NASCAR drivers will head south to Daytona Beach, FL on Saturday night for the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola. Daytona International Speedway, completed in 1959, is a 2.5-mile, tri-oval track with huge bankings (31 turns, 18 tri-oval banking). The frontstrech measures 3,800 feet with the backstretch coming in at 3,000 feet. Jimmie Johnson is the defending champion of the Coke Zero 400, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the last race at this track, the Daytona 500 in February, and is the favorite to win again on Saturday. This is one of two tracks that are restrictor plate races.

Odds to Win Race

(For the latest Odds, connect to Sportsbook.com)

Dale Earnhardt Jr.10-to-1
Kyle Busch12-to-1
Jimmie Johnson12-to-1
Matt Kenseth12-to-1
Brad Keselowski12-to-1
Jeff Gordon12-to-1
Kevin Harvick12-to-1
Joey Logano12-to-1
Denny Hamlin12-to-1
Kasey Kahne15-to-1
Tony Stewart15-to-1
Clint Bowyer18-to-1
Greg Biffle20-to-1
Kurt Busch20-to-1
Kyle Larson20-to-1
Carl Edwards20-to-1
Jamie McMurray20-to-1
Paul Menard30-to-1
Ryan Newman30-to-1
Brian Vickers30-to-1
FIELD (Any other driver)40-to-1
Danica Patrick50-to-1
Martin Truex Jr.50-to-1
Michael Waltrip50-to-1
Austin Dillon50-to-1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.60-to-1
Aric Almirola60-to-1
Marcos Ambrose60-to-1
David Gilliland75-to-1
Casey Mears75-to-1
A.J. Allmendinger75-to-1
David Ragan75-to-1
Trevor Bayne75-to-1
Justin Allgaier100-to-1

Drivers to Watch

Tony Stewart (15/1) - Stewart knows what it takes to win at Daytona with four career victories as part of nine career top-5's at this superspeedway. His 17.1 average finish at this venue ranks 8th among all active drivers, and all four of his Daytona wins came in the summer race, which is when "Smoke" usually heats up. After winning the 2012 Coke Zero 400, he placed 2nd behind Jimmie Johnson in last year's Coke Zero 400. And even though Stewart has underperformed this season with his current 16th place standing, he has raced stronger in the past few weeks, placing 7th at Dover, leading for 24 laps at Pocono and securing 11th-place finishes at both Michigan and Kentucky. At 15-to-1 odds, put your largest wager on Stewart to win his fifth summer Daytona race on Saturday night.

Kevin Harvick (12/1) - Considering Harvick was tabbed with 10-to-1 odds in February's Daytona 500, he provides a nice value pick on Saturday. Harvick has had plenty of success at this track, placing 7th or better in five of the past seven races he's finished at Daytona International Speedway, including a win in 2010. He also picked up a victory in 2007 as part of his six top-5's and 11 top-10's. Harvick has also been racing well recently, improving his standing from 26th to 9th over his past 10 starts where he has six top-7 finishes, including a win at Darlington and three runner-ups (Kansas, Charlotte and Michigan). Harvick should garner a sizable wager for this race.

Jimmie Johnson (12/1) - Despite the misfortunes Johnson has encountered at Daytona with four DNF results (three crashes and a rear axle issue) over his past nine starts, he still owns an average finish of 17.0 at this track, good for 7th-best among active drivers. After sweeping both Daytona races in 2013, Johnson nearly made it three in a row in February when he finished in 5th place despite starting in the No. 32 spot. He now has three wins and nine top-5's in his 25 career starts at this superspeedway. And no driver has been better over the past two months than Johnson, who has banged out seven straight top-10 finishes, which includes victories at Charlotte, Dover and Michigan. With his 12-to-1 odds being much more favorable than his typical 8-to-1 price, you have to place some kind of wager on Johnson for Saturday night.

Kurt Busch (20/1) - There aren't many darkhorses on the board for Saturday's race, but Busch sitting at 20-to-1 is very intriguing. He has yet to win at Daytona, but he's been very close several times with top-5 showings in 10 of his past 25 starts at this superspeedway. Busch has also led this field for at least six laps in five of his past nine Daytona starts. Busch is also picking up steam this season with an average finish of 10.0 over his past four races this season, a run that began with a 3rd-place showing at Pocono. With a more favorable price than last July (18/1), Busch is worthy of a one-unit wager for Saturday night.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (60/1) - The best longshot on the board is Stenhouse Jr., whose 12.5 average finish at Daytona is tops among all active drivers. He has improved in each of his four career starts at this track, finishing 20th in 2012, placing 12th and 11th in 2013 and then producing a 7th-place showing in February's race. Although he's never won a NASCAR race, superspeedways are his specialty, as Stenhouse's 18.2 career average finish at such venues is tops among all his different courses, and considerably better than his 20.8 average finish among all tracks. He is desperate for a decent finish too, with a current streak of seven straight finishes of 15th or worse.

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