For the final time on Independence Day weekend, NASCAR will run the Daytona night race as the night race will move to late August starting next year and serve as the cutoff race prior to the playoffs. The stage lengths have been altered from 40-40-80 to 50-50-60 to avoid fuel mileage runs to the end of the first two stages. The aero package is the same as the Talladega race with 550 horsepower and the lengthy wings on the back of the cars to create the airflow for drivers to quickly suck up to the back of other cars in the draft. The cars will also be more stable like Talladega due to the ride heights not being as low as the 2018 package. As the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will become the Fourth of July weekend race, hopefully, fans pack the stands tonight and embrace a 60-year tradition that closes tonight.
This race serves as an opportunity for multiple drivers to steal a spot in the playoff that cannot make it on points. Erik Jones scored his first Cup Series victory in this event last year and is in desperate need of a win soon as he sits 15 points off of the playoff cutline. Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick are going to make the playoffs but both could use a win after a first half of the season that should not meet their expectations. No Stewart-Haas drivers have a win this season so look for Harvick, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, and Daniel Suarez to get together at the front as soon as possible and run a race similar to the fall race at Talladega last year where Almirola took the win. The Chevrolets should be collaborating once again like they did at Talladega, which led to a Chase Elliott win and 1-2-3 finish for Chevy. William Byron and Jimmie Johnson could both use wins to solidify their playoff positioning and give Team Hendrick a third win on the year. A driver that may go overlooked tonight is Matt Dibenedetto. Dibenedetto led the most laps during the Daytona 500 and was moving towards the lead before being wrecked in the “Big One” with ten laps to go. He should have a fast car once again tonight and be on everyone’s radar.
The Coke Zero Sugar 400 is one of my favorite sporting events of the year. I attended this event back in 2017 and I can say that Daytona International Speedway is the greatest sporting venue on the planet. Daytona is a must-visit for any sports fan. My pick for tonight is going to be William Byron while Matt Dibenedetto will serve as my dark horse.
Let’s go superspeedway racing!