Sprint Cup Returns to Daytona – Coke Zero 400

Following a quick trip out to California for a run on a road course last week NASCAR’s Sprint Cup circuit heads back to where it started this season, Daytona International Speedway, for the running of the Coke Zero 400 Saturday night (7:30 pm Eastern, TNT).

Last Sunday Kurt Busch led a race-high 76 laps and picked up his first victory of this season, winning the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on the road course at Infineon. In winning the elder Busch provided his financial backers at Sportsbook.com with a payoff of +1,500.

Jeff Gordon, who was getting +700 on Sportsbook’s Save Mart 350 betting board, finished second; points leader Carl Edwards, who was getting +2,000, took third; Clint Bowyer, at +5,000, finished fourth; and Marcos Ambrose, a +400 favorite, came in fifth.

So going into this weekend’s race Edwards continues to lead the Sprint Cup standings by 25 points over Kevin Harvick and 33 points over 5-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson. Kurt Busch jumped three spots over the weekend into fourth place at -34, followed by brother Kyle at -37, Matt Kenseth at -52, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at -65, Bowyer at -77, Gordon at -93 and Ryan Newman at -98.

Back in February rookie Trevor Bayne shocked the racing world when he won the Daytona 500. Edwards finished second, David Gilliland third, Bobby Labonte fourth and Kurt Busch fifth.

Last July Harvick led for 28 laps and won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Burton rounded out the top five.

And Jamie McMurray won the Daytona 500 last year, finishing ahead of Dale Junior, Greg Biffle, Bowyer and David Reutimann.

Over the course of the last 11 Sprint Cup points races at Daytona eight different drivers have taken the checkered flag. McMurray, Harvick and Stewart have each won twice at DIS during that span, while Bayne, Kenseth, Newman, Kyle Busch and Johnson have won once.

As of Friday morning most online sportsbooks had not yet opened their Coke Zero 400 betting boards for play. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t action to be had. Bodog is listing Smoke Stewart as an 11/4 favorite to win the Nationwide Subway Jalapeno 250 Friday night. Harvick is the second favorite on that board at 9/2, followed by, among others, Kyle Busch at 6/1, Edwards at 7/1, Bowyer and Brad Keselowski at 9/1 and Joey Logano at 10/1.

And on the NASCAR futures market Edwards is a 5/2 favorite on Bodog’s updated 2011 Sprint Cup championship board, followed by, among others, Kyle Busch at 3/1, Johnson at 5/1, Earnhardt at 7/1, Harvick and Kenseth at 8/1, Hamlin at 10/1, Gordon at 12/1, Kurt Busch at 14/1 and Stewart at 18/1.

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