Daytona International Speedway. The final race of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series regular season. Two playoff spots on the line. In many ways, the second installment at “The World Center of Racing” this season trumps the first — the Daytona 500.
The countdown to the Coke Zero Sugar 400 is on, as is the countdown to the playoffs. Saturday night at Daytona represents the last shot for several big names to punch their ticket with two spots remaining. Kurt Busch, who has missed five consecutive races with concussion-like symptoms, withdrew his medical waiver to remain eligible for the playoffs. Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr., both winless on the season, stand to benefit the most from Busch’s withdrawal.
Blaney and Truex Jr. sit third and sixth respectively in the points standings. Blaney does own a 25-point advantage over Truex Jr, meaning that if there’s a first-time winner, barring anything catastrophic, he will qualify for the playoffs while Truex Jr. will be left out in the dust. Truex Jr. has yet to be able to solve Daytona during his 17-year career, with zero victories in 34 starts. In just 14 starts, Blaney has led more laps than Truex Jr. and picked up the victory in this race last season. He came close in this year’s Daytona 500, finishing fourth.
You might think Blaney controls his own destiny and maybe at any other track, that’d be the case. But this — this isn’t just any track. This is Daytona. Where chaos reigns and where it’s commonplace to expect the unexpected.
- Name: Coke Zero Sugar 400
- Date: Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022
- Time: 7 p.m. (ET)
- Location: Daytona International Speedway | Daytona Beach, Florida
- Distance: 160 laps
- TV: NBC
- Weather: High 86, Low 74 | 72% Chance of Rain
- Tickets: Available on daytonainternationalspeedway.com
Hendrick Motorsports Lead the Field to Start NASCAR Cup Series Finale at Daytona
Kyle Larson was named the pole-sitter after Saturday’s qualifying session was canceled due to inclement weather. Fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate and points standings leader Chase Elliott is slated to start alongside him on the front row. The two went head-to-head in the final laps at Watkins Glen last Sunday, with Larson coming out the victor and notching his second win of the NASCAR Cup Series season.
Elliott, as has been the case more often than not this season, is the favorite on Saturday, per DraftKings. He’s followed by Blaney, Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace.