It’s that time of the year again when drivers return to the scene of the first big Sprint Cup race of the year, the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 earlier this year, but he won’t be one of the favorites to win or finish in the Top 3 in the second Sprint Cup race at Daytona, this July 4th’s Coke Zero 400.
If not Kenseth, then which drivers really do have a chance to finish in the Top 3?
Let’s take a look at some of the drivers and their odds to finish in the Top 3 in the Coke Zero 400 this Saturday.
NASCAR: Coke Zero 400 Top 3
1. Jeff Gordon +225- - An average finish of 9.6 this year is plenty good enough for Gordon to be considered for a wager in this category. The fact that he almost always does well at Daytona, with 11 top 5 finishes and 6 victories, adds to wagering allure. Gordon could have won the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 last week and finished second which is another reason to like him this Saturday to get a Top 3 placing.
2. Kyle Busch +150- - Busch won the Coke Zero 400 last year and did finish 7th at Loudon last week. His 4 top 5 finishes at Daytona may not look all that spectacular, but if he’s gotten things turned around then he could definitely get into the Top 3.
3. Jimmie Johnson +300 - - Jimmie just isn’t a Daytona driver. That’s what it looks like on paper with only 1 victory and 5 top 5 finishes at the racetrack, but that’s what said about Jimmie at Sonoma, that he couldn’t drive on dirt courses, and he did very well there. He could surprise at nice odds.
4. Tony Stewart +200 - - The same thing can be said about Smoke although he’s going off at lower odds than Jimmie in this category, he too has been doing well enough this year, he leads in the Sprint Cup points standings, to be considered for a wager in this. Smoke does have a victory and 6 top 5 finishes at Daytona.
5. Kurt Busch +300 - - No victories makes Busch a tough bet in the win department as he has never won on the track but he finished third last week at Loudon and has 8 top 5 finishes at Daytona. He could sneak into the Top 3 again.
6. Denny Hamlin +400 - - No top 5s, no top 10s and an average finish of 26 at Daytona makes Hamlin a tough bet in this race to get a Top 3 placing, but Denny always responds when gamblers least expect him to. The stats say he has no shot in this category, but my gut tells me he could pull it off.
Best Long Shot
Juan Pablo Montoya +800 - - A bet on Juan Montoya to finish in the Top 3 in the Coke Zero 400 is simply a swing based on the odds, 8 to 1 are fantastic, and the fact that Montoya has been driving much better lately. Yes, it’s a far cry from a 10th and 12th place finish to a Top 3 finish in NASCAR, but Juan Pablo looks calmer, tougher, more sure of himself out there. The guy is a racecar driver. Eventually, he’s going to surprise some folks.