Folks, it’s finally here! This Saturday marks the final race before we hit the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. It is definitely put up or shut up time for 15 drivers this week as only one of them will get into the playoff field of 16. Daytona International Speedway will play host to the Coke Zero Sugar 400, race No. 26 of the NASCAR Cup Series season. Will it be Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon, or another driver who surprises with a win and steals the final spot in the NASCAR Playoffs on Saturday night?
Daytona International Speedway Overview
Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959. The track is and has always been 2.5 miles long, making it the fourth-largest track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit. The turns are banked at 31 degrees and the tri-oval is set at 18 degrees. Dale Earnhardt Sr. holds the record for most career wins of any driver all-time at Daytona with 34. Denny Hamlin has the most wins among active drivers with three, all coming in the penultimate Daytona 500. No active driver has more than one win in the shorter Coke Zero Sugar 400 race.
Currently, Daytona International Speedway hosts six points-paying races each year between the three national NASCAR series. The Daytona 500, Coke Zero Sugar 400, and Bluegreen Vacations Duels are all contested at the NASCAR Cup Series level. The Beef It’s What’s for Dinner 300 and Wawa 250 are the two NASCAR Xfinity Series races, while the NextEra Energy 250 is run by the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
NASCAR Schedule Change Moves Coke Zero Sugar 400 to August
Starting in 2020 and for the foreseeable future, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 was moved from its traditional spot on Independence Day Weekend to late August. It now serves as the final race of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season. This upset some fans while others welcomed the change given the unpredictable nature of racing at Daytona International Speedway.
Such unpredictability was on full display in this year’s Daytona 500 back in February. Michael McDowell picked up his first career win in the biggest race of the NASCAR season on a spectacular last-lap pass. The even playing field that comes with running the tapered engine spacer package at Daytona International Speedway only adds to the excitement for this weekend’s Coke Zero Sugar 400. Numerous drivers are in a must-win situation if they are to qualify for the NASCAR Playoffs.
NASCAR Cup Series at Daytona | Weekend Racing Schedule
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Date: Friday, August 27, 2021
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Distance: 250 miles
Coke Zero Sugar 400
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Date: Saturday, August 28, 2021
Start Time: 7 p.m. EST
Distance: 400 miles