RACE PREVIEW


COKE ZERO SUGAR
 (Firecracker) 400

DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

JULY 6th, 7:30PM on NBC-TV

2.5 MILES, 31 Degrees of Banking

Stages end: 50/100/160

If it is 4th of July it must be time for the Firecracker 400 – oops make that the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Whatever you call it, nothing says summer like this race. I remember many a 4th listening to this race on the radio wherever I was. I remember even more vividly sweating profusely in the stands at Daytona on a couple of very hot July race weekends. As much as I revere tradition, I fully supported the idea to change this to a night race. Not only does it add to any holiday weekend to have a night race, it makes it a much more comfortable race to attend. Currently we are back to Saturday night and under the lights, where this race shines. This is our third restrictor plate race of the year and we have seven different winners in seventeen races run this season. There is a very good chance that we’ll have a first-time winner at this race – after all it was eight years ago that Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in a partial-season ride and David Ragan had his first win later that year at the 400. Trevor’s win was the start of a three-race streak for Ford and Roush Yates Motors. In the last ten years Chevrolet has had nine wins. The most from Hendrick Motorsports Roush Fenway Racing-four wins.  Ford is second with eight wins in the last twenty races. Toyota has only had three wins in the last 20 races but that includes the last two here. All three wins came from Joe Gibbs Racing.  Will Chevrolet dominance continue? And will we see a seventh different winner for the season or a return victor to Victory Lane? We’ll know Saturday night.

Tuesday look for our Top 10 drivers on super speedway tracks in advance of the Coke Zero Sugar 400, Thursday we’ll rank the Top 30 drivers for that race.

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TOP FIVE DRIVERS TO WATCH

CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY: CAMPING WORLD  400

The #5 driver is a two time former winner here, #4 Kevin Harvick.  Kevin has 18 starts at Chicagoland and ten Top 5’s (55%).  He is my #5 rated driver on tracks like Chicagoland. His last two stops here were 3rd place finishes. Kevin is #3 hottest over the last six weeks.      

My #4 driver is #1 in points, #22 Joey Logano. Yes he is #1 in points and #2 hottest over the last six weeks. Joey has ten starts and two Top 5’s but his last five starts were all Top 10’s and his two Top 5’’s came in this streak. He #4 ranked at track like this this.    

The #3 driver to watch last won here five years ago, #2 Brad Keselowski. Brad has two wins in just ten starts. His other win was in 2012. He has eight straight Top 10 finishes and four of those were Top 5’s. He is #3 for me on these downforce tracks and most importantly #1 hottest over the last six weeks.    

My #2 pick is the defending champion of this race, #18 Kyle Busch. Kyle got his second win here last year. He comes into the Second City where he has 14 starts, twos win and five Top 5’s. Kyle’s first win was in 2008. He is my #2 rated driver on tracks like this.

My #1 pick has only three Top 5 finishes here, #19 Martin Truex Jr. Martin has only three Top 5’s in 13 starts, but two of those two Top 5’ were wins in 2016 &2017 plus he finished #4 last year. 13 starts, two wins. He is #1 rated on tracks like this and sits 5th hottest over the last six weeks and he is coming off a big win in wine country.

Monday we’ll preview the Coke Zero Sugar 400 from Daytona.

TOP 30 DRIVERS

CAMPING WORLD 400 from Chicago

  1. MARTIN TRUEX #19
  2. KYLE BUSCH #18
  3. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  4. JOEY LOGANO #22
  5. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  6. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  7. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  8. RYAN BLANEY #12
  9. KYLE LASRSON #42
  10. KURT BUSCH # 1
  11. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  12. DANIEL SUAREZ #41
  13. ALEX BOWMAN #88
  14. CLINT BOWYER #14
  15. ERIK JONES #20
  16. RYAN NEWMAN #6
  17. PAUL MENARD #21
  18. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  19. WILLIAM BYRON #24
  20. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  21. CHRIS BUESCHER #37
  22. AUSTIN DILLON #3
  23. DANIEL HEMRIC #8
  24. DARRELL WALLACE JR #43
  25. MICHAEL MCDOWELL #34
  26. RYAN PREECE #47
  27. DAVID RAGAN #38
  28. MATT DIBENNEDETTO #95
  29. TY DILLION #13
  30. MATT TFFIT #36

Friday we break down the Top 5 drivers to watch in the Camping World 400.

TOP TEN TEAMS

TOP 10 TEAMS POST SONOMA

  1. JOE GIBBS RACING (LW #2)
  2. TEAM PENSKE (LW #1)
  3. HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (LW #3)
  4. STEWART HAAS RACING (LW #4)
  5. CHIP GANASSI RACING (LW #5)
  6. ROUSH FENWAY RACING (LW #6)
  7. WOOD BROTHERS RACING (LW #7)
  8. RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (LW #10)
  9. JTG DAUGERTY RACING (LW#8)
  10. LEAVINE FAMILY RACING (LW OFF)

Team Penske got a win from #22 Joey Logano at Michigan, that win helped make Team Penske the #1 team for the first time this year. This week at Sonoma Martin Truex Jr. went to victory circle and helped Joe Gibbs Racing return to #1. It also helped to have the three other JGR cars finish in the Top 10. Four Top 10’s was a fantastic result, they clearly deserve the #1 spot. Team Penske returns to #2. Hendrick Motorsports the only other team with a win stay at #3. Stewart Haas Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and Wood Brothers Racing all remain in place all trying to get their first win of the year. Richard Childress Racing move up two spots to #8. JTG Daugherty slip back a spot to #9. Lastly this week we lose Germain Racing from the Top 10 and welcome back Leavine Family Racing at #10.

These are the Top 10 Teams, Thursday look for our Top 30 drivers for the Camping World 400 from Chicagoland Speedway.

TOP TEN DRIVERS by TRACK TYPE

TOP 10: DOWNFORCE TRACKS

  1. MARTIN TRUEX #19
  2. KYLE BUSCH #18
  3. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  4. JOEY LOGANO #22
  5. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  6. KYLE LARSON #42
  7. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  8. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  9. RYAN BLANEY #12
  10. KURT BUSCH #1

Top 10 drivers on downforce tracks, Thursday look for our Top 30 Drivers for Sunday’s Camping World 400 from Chicagoland Speedway.

TOP FIVE DRIVERS TO WATCH

TOP FIVE DRIVERS: SONOMA TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350

My #5 driver to watch is a former winner here and one of the most consistent, #41 Kurt Busch. He has 18 starts in Sonoma, a 2011 win and seven Top 5 finishes. He is my #5 rated road course driver and happy to have that Hendrick motor shop power under the hood.

My #4 pick won here seven years ago, #14 Clint Bowyer. Last year Clint was the hot shoe from the hot team rollin in here with a Michigan win, this year Stewart Haas Racing is winless. Clint has to be happy to be here, where Clint has 13 starts, the win in 2012 and eight Top 5’s (65%). Interestingly six of his Top 5’s came in his last eight races. He is #4 ranked on road courses.

The #3 driver is this year’s hot shoe coming off a big win at Michigan, #22 Joey Logano. Joey has ten starts here and only two Top 5’s, but he really is getting better. His two Top 5’s came in his last four stops here. Joey is loaded with confidence coming off his motor city win and Team Penske is second only to Joe Gibbs Racing in number of wins this year.

My #2 driver finally won here in 2017, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin won at the other road course, Watkins Glen in 2006, but had to wait til two years ago to win in a cup race here. Kevin, from nearby Bakersfield did win here in the old Southwest tour in 1998 but you know he loved to getting that cup win. Kevin is ranked #6 on road courses and is #5 hottest over the last six weeks. In his 18 visits here he has six Top 5’s.

The #1 driver is a road course winner, and not just here, he is one of three active drivers in the field to win at both road courses, #18 Kyle Busch. Kyle is the only active driver to score wins here and at Watkins Glen twice each. He won here four years ago and in his 14 starts has that win as well one in 2008. He is #2 in points, #6 hottest over the last six weeks and ranked #2 for me on road courses.

Monday look for our preview of the Overton’s 400 from Chicagoland speedway.

TOP 30 DRIVERS

TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350:SONOMA RACEWAY

  1. KYLE BUSCH #18
  2. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  3. JOEY LOGANO #22
  4. CLINT BOWYER #14
  5. KURT BUSCH #1
  6. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  7. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  8. MARTIN TRUEX #19
  9. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  10. ALEX BOWMAN #88
  11. DANIEL SUAREZ #41
  12. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  13. ERIK JONES #20
  14. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  15. RYAN NEWMAN #6
  16. RYAN BLANEY #12
  17. KYLE LARSON #42
  18. WILLIAM BYRON #24
  19. PAUL MENARD #21
  20. CHRIS BUESCHER #37
  21. AUSTIN DILLION #3
  22. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  23. MATT DIBENNEDETTO #95
  24. TY DILLION #13
  25. MICHAEL MCDOWELL #34
  26. DAVID RAGAN #38
  27. PARKER KLIGERMAN #96
  28. DANIEL HEMRIC #8
  29. CORIE LAJOIE #32
  30. RYAN PREECE #47

Friday we break down the Top 5 drivers to watch in Sunday’s Save Mart/Toyota 350 from Sonoma.