NASCAR Cup Series weekend schedule: TV, streaming info, odds, picks and what to watch for at Daytona

·3-min read

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Daytona for its final regular-season race before the 10-round playoff chase begins. All but one of 16 playoff spots are locked up and it will come down to a 16th different race winner or, failing that, if Martin Truex Jr. overcome a 25-point deficit he has to Ryan Blaney for the highest point total among non-race-winners.

Here is everything you need to know for the Coke Zero Sugar 400:

NASCAR Cup Series weekend schedule and how to watch

Fans in the United States can watch the race on the USA network, the USA mobile app or the NBC Sports app (cable or satellite subscription required). Radio coverage is available on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM.

(All times ET)

Friday, Aug. 26

Qualifying: 5:05 - 7 p.m. ET (USA, MRN, SiriusXM)

Saturday, Aug. 27

Coke Zero Sugar 400: 7 -10 p.m. ET (USA, MRN, SiriusXM)

Top drivers and best bets for the Coke Zero Sugar 400

Chase Elliott locked up the regular season points title with his fourth-place finish at Watkins Glen and BetMGM likes the 2020 series champion this weekend as he enters with the best odds at +1000. Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Bubba Wallace are all at +1200 leading into the weekend while William Byron and Ross Chastain check in at +1400.

Feb 17, 2022; Daytona, FL, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (5), driver Chase Elliott (9) and driver William Byron (24) during the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Hendrick Motorsports' William Byron (24), Kyle Larson (5), and Chase Elliott (9) are among the top favorites for NASCAR's regular-season finale at Daytona on Saturday night. (Photo by Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports)

Daytona history, track characteristics and what to expect

NASCAR’s most-famed track was the brainchild of series founder Bill France Sr., who envisioned a grand, high-banked speedway to promote the growing sport in the early 1950s. For years before the series raced on the half-beach, half-paved course about 12 miles southwest of where the speedway sits today. Since its opening in 1959 the speedway has hosted 150 Cup series races with the legendary Richard Petty claiming the most wins with 10, followed by Cale Yarborough with nine.

The speedway is a 2.5 mile tri-oval with each of the turns banked at 31 degrees, the tri-oval banked at 18 degrees and the backstretch at two degrees. Due to the high banks and high speeds it is one of two tracks on the Cup Series schedule that requires the restrictor plate – a device that limits airflow into the engine and restricts top-end speed. That leads to pack racing via the draft, which usually leads to constructors or even some of the larger individual teams working together – pitting together, bump drafting, etc. – to run up front until the final laps when, famously, it’s every driver for themself.

Of course, with tight packs racing at high speed, disaster lurks at every turn. The slightest wiggle can wipe out a dozen or more cars as “the big one” typically strikes late in restrictor plate races and cautions tend to beget more cautions. Typically about 20 percent of races are run under the yellow flag.

Weather forecast for the Coke Zero Sugar 400

The forecast calls for warm weather in the mid-80s with a 35 percent chance of thunderstorms for both days of track action. With the race scheduled for Saturday and just one support series qualifying session and race, NASCAR has some wiggle room if the weather is bad on Friday and Saturday to potentially run Sunday or even Monday in order to set the playoff field on track.