NASCAR at Daytona schedule: How to watch on TV, weather, odds

William Byron looks to defend his victory at Daytona in the 2021 regular season finale.
USA Today

The NASCAR Cup Series visits Daytona International Speedway this weekend for the final race of the 2021 regular season before the 10-week playoffs begin.

Daytona’s second race was traditionally held on Fourth of July weekend, but it was moved to the regular season finale last year. William Byron won that race in a thrilling show, and now Daytona has found its new permanent date.

Various drivers are fighting for the final playoff spot, with Daytona serving as the last chance to get in. There’s also a tight regular season championship battle to be decided at Daytona between Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin, with 15 crucial playoff points on the line.

Here's everything you need to know for Daytona:

What is the 2021 Daytona schedule?

The race weekend at Daytona will not feature practice or qualifying sessions, as the sport attempts to cut costs for teams in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona will go green at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 28.

What channel is the Daytona race on?

The race at Daytona is on NBC starting at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 28. NASCAR Countdown to Green will begin before the race, airing from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Coke Zero Sugar 400 starting lineup

The starting lineup for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 was set using NASCAR’s qualifying metric, which is a formula combining each driver’s finish last week, each driver’s fastest lap last week and each driver’s points position. Here is the full starting lineup for Daytona:

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. William Byron
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Chase Elliott
  6. Ryan Blaney
  7. Martin Truex Jr.
  8. Kurt Busch
  9. Matt DiBenedetto
  10. Brad Keselowski
  11. Kevin Harvick
  12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  13. Chris Buescher
  14. Christopher Bell
  15. Alex Bowman
  16. Chase Briscoe
  17. Tyler Reddick
  18. Michael McDowell
  19. Aric Almirola
  20. Bubba Wallace
  21. Erik Jones
  22. Joey Logano
  23. Ryan Newman
  24. Ryan Preece
  25. Cole Custer
  26. Daniel Suarez
  27. Austin Dillon
  28. Justin Haley
  29. Ross Chastain
  30. BJ McLeod
  31. Cody Ware
  32. Anthony Alfredo
  33. Corey LaJoie
  34. Garrett Smithley
  35. Quin Houff
  36. Josh Bilicki
  37. Joey Gase
  38. Kaz Grala
  39. Landon Cassill
  40. David Starr

Who will make the NASCAR playoffs?

Fifteen of the 16 playoff spots have been secured entering Daytona, host of the 26th and final regular season race. Kyle Larson (five wins), Martin Truex Jr. (three), Alex Bowman (three), Kyle Busch (two), Chase Elliott (two), Ryan Blaney (two), William Byron (one), Joey Logano (one), Brad Keselowski (one), Kurt Busch (one), Christopher Bell (one), Michael McDowell (one), Aric Almirola (one) are qualified for the playoffs based on wins, while Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are locked into the playoffs based on their regular season point totals.

The final playoff spot could theoretically go to 15 different drivers. Tyler Reddick currently holds a 25-point lead over teammate Austin Dillon for the 16th playoff spot, but if anyone outside the playoffs wins at Daytona, that driver will clinch the final spot. Reddick and Dillon are the only two drivers fighting to make the playoffs on points -- but any new winner at Daytona would eliminate both of them.

The 15 drivers fighting for the final playoff spot include a number of big names. Six former race winners -- Dillon, Chris Buescher, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Erik Jones, Ryan Newman and Cole Custer -- are among the group. The other nine drivers vying for the final spot are Reddick, Matt DiBenedetto, Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace, Chase Briscoe, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Preece, Corey LaJoie and Anthony Alfredo.

Which active drivers have won at Daytona?

Fourteen of the 40 drivers racing this weekend have won at Daytona -- Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, William Byron, Michael McDowell, Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Haley. Only Hamlin (three) and Harvick (two) have multiple wins among active drivers at Daytona.

Who is favored to win at Daytona?

It’s rare that a track has 14 different active winners in the field, but Daytona is no ordinary track. In the last 23 Daytona races dating back to 2010, there have been 19 different winners. Every race at Daytona is truly unpredictable, which makes betting even more challenging. 

Denny Hamlin, who has won three of the last 11 Daytona races, is the favorite to win on Saturday despite never having won Daytona’s summer race. All three of Hamlin’s Daytona wins (2016, 2019, 2020) have come in the Daytona 500, held annually on a Sunday afternoon in February. Saturday night racing in August is a much different story -- we’ll see if Hamlin can break through for his first win at the Daytona summer race and his first win of 2021.

Beyond Hamlin, there’s a ton of good value options due to the volatility of Daytona. Michael McDowell, Justin Haley and Erik Jones -- who all won their first career race at Daytona in 2021, 2019 and 2018, respectively --  are each listed at +3500 or higher. Daytona is all about finding the right value on a longshot.   Here are some of the odds for Daytona, courtesy of our partner, PointsBet:

  • Denny Hamlin +725
  • Joey Logano +1200
  • Brad Keselowski +1300
  • Kyle Larson +1300
  • Ryan Blaney +1400
  • Chase Elliott +1400
  • William Byron +1400
  • Kyle Busch +1600
  • Austin Dillon +2000
  • Kevin Harvick +2000
  • Aric Almirola +2200
  • Alex Bowman +2200
  • Martin Truex Jr. +2500
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. +2500
  • Christopher Bell +2800
  • Matt DiBenedetto +2800
  • Kurt Busch +3000
  • Bubba Wallace +3000
  • Tyler Reddick +3500
  • Michael McDowell +3500
  • Erik Jones +6600
  • Justin Haley +12500

What is the weather for Daytona?

The Weather Channel is expecting a mild weekend in Daytona Beach. A high of 86 degrees and a 20% chance of rain are forecasted for Saturday. There will be considerable cloudiness on Saturday night, with a high of into the 80s and a 19% chance of rain.

NASCAR will need a dry track to race at Daytona. If the race does get started, it can be stopped for rain and deemed a full event if it gets to halfway (lap 80). Once the race crosses halfway, it is an official event and it can be called over at any time due to rain. NASCAR will do all it can to dry the track, but if the forecast isn’t promising and the race is past lap 80 it is likely to be rain-shortened.

How to buy tickets for Daytona

Tickets for the Cup Series race at Daytona are available on the track’s website right here. Information about parking, camping, scanner rentals, pre-race pit passes and tickets for the weekend are also available on the track’s website.

Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.