NASCAR Odds, Expert Picks, Predictions for Daytona: Bet to Make for Chaotic Race (Saturday, August 26)
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Brennan Poole.
The Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET, NBC) has taken place in August each of the last three years since the COVID pandemic.
Its new place on the season calendar has made it the cutoff race before the Cup Series playoffs start, and with NASCAR's win-and-you're-in playoff format, there are still 16 drivers who can win their way in.
That list does not include Bubba Wallace, who can solidify his spot in the playoffs by preventing those other drivers from winning with a victory himself.
Additionally, every other driver in the field either wants to win to gain five extra playoff points – or in the case of part-timers, win for the glory.
One race. One spot.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 20, 2023
That means every driver in the 39-car field is on a win-or-bust agenda. As a result, this race has produced mass chaos each of the three years it has been the cutoff race.
In 2020, there were three cautions in the final 20 laps, with just 20 of the 40 cars finishing on the lead lap in an overtime finish.
In 2021, there were four cautions in the final 25 laps, with just 15 of the 40 cars finishing on the lead lap in an overtime finish.
And in 2022, there were four cautions in the final stage, with just 12 of 37 cars finishing on the lead lap, including just nine that were healthy enough to hang with the lead draft. That led to the wild scenario of several bottom-tier cars finishing inside the top 10, allowing one bettor to turn a $13.49 bet into a nearly $1 millon payday.
In all, an average of only 40% of the field was left on the lead lap, with many of those too banged up to actually contend for the win. In this year's 39-car field, that equates to about 15 or 16 cars left on average.
All that said, it sets up the first bet I've made this week for Daytona, and it's a doozy.
Before I dive in, remember to always gamble responsibly. Expect to lose this bet – but also, have some fun! While I do believe there's value here, I'm fully expecting to light my money on fire.
NASCAR Odds, Picks for Daytona
Remember that incredible parlay I alluded to in the intro? Well, David Ragan drove one of the cars involved in that.
Ragan talked to Action Network's Darren Rovell about that finish, and he mentioned he got up to fifth place as the white flag flew.
Ragan was driving the No. 15 car for Rick Ware Racing and legitimately had a shot at the race win had things played out to perfection. While Ragan isn't in that car this year, the driver who is – Brennan Poole – is an accomplished superspeedway racer himself.
Poole raced in the NASCAR Cup Series full-time in 2020 for Premium Motorsports. Premium Motorsports had nowhere near the equipment to hang with the big guns of NASCAR, and while Rick Ware Racing is certainly behind, they aren't as far behind as Premium was in 2020. The Rick Ware cars this year average a full percentage point in speed closer to the leaders than the Premium cars did, which translates to a full lap over a 100-lap race on average.
When Poole achieved finishes of 16th, 15th and ninth at the two superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega) back in 2020, he did it in significantly worse equipment than he has now.
In fact, earlier this year, Riley Herbst piloted this very car to a 10th-place finish at the Daytona 500 while J.J. Yeley earned a seventh-place finish at another drafting track (Atlanta).
In the team's other car, Cody Ware earned a 14th-place finish at the Daytona 500 while J.J. Yeley grabbed an 11th-place finish at Talladega.
These cars have what it takes to produce strong finishes and are fully capable at the race with the most mayhem of all: the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Poole backed up his Premium Motorsports 2020 year with some other strong drafting-track finishes. He took fifth at Talladega earlier this year in the Xfinity Series despite driving for the smaller JD Motorsports. And he capped that off with a finish of 13th at Atlanta.
It's not like crazy longshots have never won before. In 2019, Justin Haley, then driving for Spire Motorsports, which was much smaller and more underfunded than it is now, took the win at this race thanks to a rainout. Crazy things can happen, especially in the craziest race on the calendar.
Westgate SuperBook opened Poole at 2,000-1 odds to win. That's too long for this combination of scenario, car and driver.
I can imagine a scenario similar to past years, with Poole riding around in the back, waiting for all hell to break loose. When the dust settles, we may have a driver at 2000-1 to beat 15 other cars.
Don't go crazy. But if you don't mind almost surely throwing away a couple bucks like I am, it's a fun way to potentially have a major sweat at the end of a chaotic race while making what I have as technically a +EV bet.
The Bet: Brennan Poole to win +200000 (2,000-1) | Bet to: +100000 (1,000-1)