Seven Former DAYTONA Champions Need Historic Coke Zero Sugar 400 Victory to Have Shot at NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs
With the NASCAR Cup Series’ regular season finale Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway less than two weeks away, seven – yes seven - former DAYTONA Champions are in a “must-win” situation if they want to have a chance to make the 2022 NASCAR Playoffs.
After this weekend’s upcoming Go Bowling at The Glen, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 will serve as the last-chance race for drivers to make the 16-playoff grid for the third consecutive year. For every driver who enters the Coke Zero Sugar 400 outside of the top 16, going to Ruoff Mortgage Victory Lane will be their only option in order to make the championship battle.
There have been 15 drivers to win thus far in 2022, which leaves just one spot available in the drive for the title. On the outside looking in are the ’lucky seven,’ former winners at the iconic “World Center of Racing.” They include:
• Brad Keselowski (No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford), the 2016 Coke Zero Sugar 400 Champion. His resume is stellar at DIS with three top-five efforts and six top-10s in 26 starts.
• Ricky Stenhouse Jr., (No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet), the 2017 Coke Zero Sugar 400 Champion. In addition, he has a pair of top-five results. His other career triumph came at Talladega Superspeedway.
• Erik Jones (No. 43 Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet), the 2018 Coke Zero Sugar 400 Champion and 2021 Busch Clash at Daytona Champion. He has another top-five result, along with three top 10s. Jones also captured the 2021 Busch Clash at Daytona.
• Aric Almirola (No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford), the 2014 Coke Zero Sugar 400 Champion. In 21 races, he also has three top-five and four top-10 efforts.
• Justin Haley (No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet), the 2019 Coke Zero Sugar 400 Champion. In just four races, he has a pair of top-10 results.
• Austin Dillon (No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet), the 2018 DAYTONA 500 Champion. In 18 races at DIS, he has one win and three top-five finishes.
• Michael McDowell (No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford), the 2021 DAYTONA 500 Champion. He has three top-five efforts at Daytona, as well as eight top-10 results.
And let’s not forget the two drivers who are second and fourth in the standings – Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex, Jr. respectively – who have yet to win, as well as the Bubba Wallace, who has been one of the hottest drivers over the last five races.
• Blaney, the defending Coke Zero Sugar 400 Champion, currently is the 16th seed, and if a ’22 non-winning driver wins one of the next two races, he will be eliminated from playoff contention.
A victory erases any doubt of making the playoffs.
• Truex, who has a pair of runnerup finishes at Daytona in the DAYTONA 500 and Coke Zero Sugar 400, is the first driver on the outside looking in, and needs a triumph to advance.
• Wallace also has second-place finishes in both the DAYTONA 500 and Coke Zero Sugar 400. While searching for his first victory of 2022, he has results of third, eighth, fifth, second and 13th over the last handful of premier series events.
Fans can catch this exciting conclusion to the regular season by purchasing tickets starting at $49 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. Fans who purchase tickets to the race can also purchase access to the UNOH Fanzone for $60 (plus grandstand ticket).
Here, fans can participate in events before the race that includes the Coke Zero Sugar 400 Pre-Race Concert featuring Better Than Ezra, pre-race
ceremonies, driver introductions, access to the large grass ballfield, and signing the start/finish line through the middle of the 18-degree, banked trioval.
Also scheduled is LIVE entertainment on the main UNOH Fanzone Stage, including NASCAR Personalities Fan Q&A.
Tickets to the Xfinity Series Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola are also available, starting at $35 for adults and FREE for kids 12 and under.
The Wawa 250 takes place the day before the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Friday, Aug. 26, and access to the UNOH Fanzone will be available before this race as well.
A Two-Day Pass is available which includes access to the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, and the Wawa 250 on Friday. Tickets for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 and the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.