NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series returns to fabled Daytona International Speedway this week in advance of the 4th of July holiday for the running of this year’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola. Saturday night’s prime-time run on NBC is slated to get underway at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
It took Kevin Harvick 16 tries to get his first point race victory of the season, but he is finally off the shneid with last Sunday’s win at Sonoma. Clint Bowyer took second in that race and my top longshot pick, Brad Keselowski came close to paying off at +2200 odds with a third-place run.
The following is a look at my free picks for our top valued favorite, contender, and a longshot to win this Saturday night at Daytona based on betting odds as provided by 5Dimes.
Top Valued Favorite
I have always been a big Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan so this pick at +800 betting odds may be a bit more sentimental than logical given the No. 88 Chevrolet’s performance year-to-date. This team is buried in the standings at No. 22 with just 293 points and one finish in the top five, but it is moving in the right direction with a sixth-place finish in last week’s race on the heels of a ninth-place run at Michigan. The only reason why Dale Jr. is the second-favorite on this week’s list to win is his past success at this track. He has four career victories in a Cup Series event at Daytona, including a trip to the Winner’s Circle in this race during the 2015 season.
Top Valued Contender
There is some big value with some big names in the contender’s category this week and at +1200 betting odds, I am going with the biggest name on the board. Jimmie Johnson has already guided his No. 48 Chevrolet to Victory Lane three times this season to set up a run to a possible eighth career Cup Series title. Draining the value in these odds a bit are three runs outside the top 10 in his last five events, but the second race in this same span was a victory at Dover. The real value in Johnson this week is his past success at this track. Included in his three career victories here is a win in this race in 2013 and he also placed second in this event in 2015.
Top Valued Longshot
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. joined the Cup Series full time in 2013 and while it has been a rocky road at times, he appears to have turned the corner this season with a victory at Talladega and a pair top five runs at Phoenix and Richmond. This has the No. 17 Ford Racing Team in solid shape to make the playoffs this year despite falling outside the top 16 drivers in total points. The win in that restrictor plate race earlier this year adds some serious value to his +2200 betting odds to win this race. As far as his past performance at Daytona, Stenhouse has an average finishing position of 19.7 through 10 previous races, but he did take fifth in this race last year.
Betting Odds for other Notable Drivers
Brad Keselowski has been opened as a +650 favorite for this week’s race followed by Dale Jr. Both Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano are next on the list at +1000 and the duo of Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are set at +1100 odds. Joining Johnson at +1200 is Martin Truex Jr. and the trio of Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, and Kurt Busch have been opened at betting odds of +1400 to win. The elder Busch brother won this year’s Daytona 500 to start the 2017 Cup Series season.