NASCAR at Daytona A culmination of close-but-not-quites, how to watch, starting lineup
The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday night. The regular-season finale’s green flag will drop a little after 7 p.m. barring inclement weather and will be broadcast on NBC with radio coverage from MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR. All eyes will be on 15 drivers in particular in the 36-car field. Why 15? Because that’s how many cars — after Kurt Busch exited the Cup Series playoffs because of his lingering head injury — can grab one of two remaining playoff berths up for grabs with a trip to Victory Lane. And for pretty much all of those 15 drivers, Daytona will be the culmination of a season riddled with with close-but-not-quite results. (And what better place to do it than at The Great Equalizer?)
Ryan Blaney, who’s third in the series in points but still without a win, has had his fair share of close calls. He’s notched eight top-five finishes. Twelve top-10s. He’s led a seventh-best 417 laps. He’s had shots at wins throughout the year, but bad luck was always on time: Take his run on Indy’s road course in July, when he had a fast car and a chance to contend with Tyler Reddick on a late-race restart before being spun out by a rambunctious field of drivers. The driver of the No. 12 car even had an uncharacteristic outburst post-race: “That’s all people do at the end of these things, just dive in there and (expletive) wreck you,” he said. “I don’t know who shoved who and I don’t care.” The list goes on. There’s Martin Truex Jr., who’s sixth in the field in points and who has led a fifth-best 455 laps.