21 Team Optimistic Headed Into Daytona

NASCAR’s Cup Series will conclude its 26-race regular season with this Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Races at Daytona and its sister track, Talladega Superspeedway, are considered wild-card events because the way races play out in the draft at those tracks, any driver has a shot to win. 

This weekend, that means any Cup Series regular driver not already assured of a berth in the 10-race, season-ending battle for the Cup championship can join the elite 16 who will start the Playoffs.

Brian Wilson, crew chief of the No. 21 DEX Imaging Mustang driven by Harrison Burton, said his team’s performance in races at Daytona and Talladega have him thinking big headed into the weekend.

“Everyone on the Wood Brothers Ford gets excited when we head to a superspeedway race,” he said. “The obvious reason is the long history of the team at drafting style tracks.” Indeed, the Wood Brother have 15 point-paying Cup wins at Daytona and five more at Talladega.

“Recent history has also seen the DEX Mustang at the front of the pack and often leading,” Wilson added, pointing out that already this season, Burton has led nine laps at Daytona and 11 at Talladega. “I’ve said it before and truly believe that if we can finish where we deserve to at a speedway race it will be a great day.

“For our team, ending the regular season at one of our strongest tracks brings a lot of optimism. We’re putting all our effort into making the Playoffs by getting win No. 100 for the Wood Brothers.”

Per NASCAR’s policy, there will be no practice at Daytona. Qualifying is set for Saturday at 5:05 p.m. Eastern Time, with TV coverage on USA Network. 

Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 is scheduled to get the green flag just after 7 p.m. with TV coverage on NBC.

Stage breaks are planned for Laps 35 and 95.