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The NASCAR Cup series is back this weekend at Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400. Is Erik Jones good value? Phil Bobbitt answers.

NASCAR Predictions and Pick: Is Erik Jones Good Value at the Coke Zero 400

Yes, guy.

We're here.

Saturday night under the bright Daytona lights.

One remaining playoff spot is up for grabs.

When the head brass of NASCAR created the current playoff system, they certainly nailed it. Love the format or hate it, there is no denying that the schedule oozes drama. The Nascar haulers are pointed towards sunny Florida this weekend and waiting in the wings will be tense action, desperate racing, and no shortage of storylines.

NASCAR Coke Zero 400 Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Saturday, August 27

Time: 7:00 pm EST

Where to Watch: NBC

Click Here for Coke Zero 400 Odds

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The Daytona Superspeedway will play host to the last regular season event, and the playoff bubble could not be more crowded. 15 drivers have already punched their ticket into elimination-style post-season. Ryan Blaney or Martin Truex could theoretically make the playoffs without winning, as long as the myriad of other drivers behind them but within the top-30 in points isn't the first to the checkered flag on Saturday night. Those drivers are:

  • Aric Almirola
  • Austin Dillon
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Bubba Wallace
  • Chris Buescher
  • Cole Custer
  • Erik Jones
  • Harrison Burton
  • Justin Haley
  • Michael McDowell
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • Todd Gilliland
  • Ty Dillon

There are more than a few dangerous superspeedway names on that list. Let's start the handicap and snipe a play from right in the middle of this hornet's nest.

NASCAR Coke Zero 400 Pick

Erik Jones to finish better than Aric Almirola (+105) (Bet $100 to win $105)

*Odds available at Draftkings at time of publishing*

As always, it's important to shop for this thing. DraftKings is by far the best, but you can get action at BetMGM (-110), Sugarhouse (-109), and FanDuel (+102). There's nothing wrong with any of those options, except you know, the price. But we're gamblers, so you need to play where you can play.

NASCAR Coke Zero 400 Prediction

This is a complete mismatch when we peel back the layers. Let's call the motivation factor a wash since both men need to win to enter the playoffs. Erik Jones is the fifth-best rated driver in our dataset for superspeedway races in 2022 (Atlanta/Talledega/Daytona), after posting finishes of 29/14/6/4. Almirola is a respectable eighth, with finishes of 5/22/13/8.

What really sticks out, is Erik Jones' nose for the front. He is third in the Series in average running position (10.9) and leads 9.5 laps per race in the dataset. Here's a peek at the relevant statistics from each of the pack-racing style races we've seen in this new generation car.

Tale of the Tape

Daytona 500

Almirola: Finished 5th, 4 fast laps, 0 laps led, average running position 15.9, driver rating 80.3

Jones: Finished 29th, 6 fast laps, 3 laps led, (ARP) 12.1, driver rating 81.0 (accident)

Atlanta 1

Almirola: Finished 22nd, 9 fast laps, 6 led, 12.7 ARP, 67.9 rating

Jones: Finished 14th, 10 fast laps, 0 led, 11.0 ARP, 85.5 rating


Almirola: Finished 13th, 3 fast laps, 0 led, 19.4 ARP, 68.8 rating

Jones: Finished 6th, 0 fast laps, 25 led, 5.9 ARP, 107.2 rating

Atlanta 2

Almirola: Finished 8th, 12 fast laps, 0 led, 14.1 ARP, 89.5 rating

Jones: Finished 4th, 7 fast laps, 10 led, 14.7 ARP, 84.8 rating

Jones has won the head-to-head matchup in three of the four races, led more laps, turned more fast laps, and dominates in driver rating.

In season-long green flag speed, Jones ranks 20th while Almirola trails in 24th. Erik Jones has had top-ten speed in 7 races this year, while Almirola can only claim 4. Although green-flag speed on different track types doesn't necessarily translate at Daytona, it does show which team is bringing the speed consistently.

There's no such thing as a lay-up when you're betting on motorsports...except this one.

Take the plus money on Erik Jones!

Looking for the best sportsbook offers? Check out the free bets page

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Article Author


Phil and Steve are lifelong buddies from the Philadelphia area. They specialize in all things motorsports and turned in a 131.3 unit profit in 2021.


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