FILE - In this March 29, 2019, file photo, Jimmie Johnson, right, chats with Joey Logano before qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The final three playoff spots are up for grabs as stock-car racing returns to the high-banked superspeedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., two weeks after running the road course. Nearly half the field is looking to clinch a postseason berth with a victory, including seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson.
FILE - In this March 29, 2019, file photo, Jimmie Johnson, right, chats with Joey Logano before qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The final three playoff spots are up for grabs as stock-car racing returns to the high-banked superspeedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., two weeks after running the road course. Nearly half the field is looking to clinch a postseason berth with a victory, including seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson.| AP Photo/LM Otero, File
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Bet NASCAR Saturday night: Can Jimmie Johnson push off retirement at Daytona? The Eckel 4 make their picks for the Coke Zero 400

Daytona Coke Zero 400, 7:30 p.m. TV: NBC

Mark Eckel

Daytona Coke Zero 400, 7:30 p.m. TV: NBC

It comes down to Saturday night at Daytona for one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history.

Sure Hall of Famer and seven-time Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson sits four points (632-628) behind William Byron for the final playoff spot as the regular season ends Saturday night with the Daytona Coke Zero 400.

"I think from a fan’s perspective, it’s going to be very entertaining and the fans are going to tune in," Johnson told NASCAR.com "For us guys in the pressure cooker, it’s more intense than any situation that I’ve been in the past.”

Johnson, who missed last year’s playoffs for the first time in his brilliant career, announced he would retire at the end of this season. He’d like it to end with one more playoff run.

"We have a lot at stake and, again, it could be a great storybook ending for my last full-time race or race on an oval at Daytona." Johnson said. "We all understand the story lines. I’m excited, I’m ready to go. I’m not one to spend too much time getting overly sentimental.”

Harvick vs. Hamlin

Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have dominated throughout the season. Harvick has seven wins; Hamlin has 6. Those 13 are more than all of the other drivers combined.

"Every time we have the most wins for a while, he matched it and then beat it, and then we matched it and he beat it again," said Hamlin, who began the season with his third Daytona 500 win. "It’s certainly a lot of fun from our stand point. I’m sure that there are 36 other guys that are not as amused by it, but certainly I think that we’re just doing everything right, right now. We’re having cars that are fast."

Here’s how The Eckel 4, which as always includes Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker, Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney and Barry “Dr. NASCAR’’ Davis see Saturday’s race.

Joey Logano (9-1): Only two of the The 4 picked Logano, but both of them, including “Left Turn’’ have him on top. He’s won here before, but not since 2015. He’s kind of due for a big race and Fords have done well here in the past.

Denny Hamlin (5-1): It’s his turn right? Plus, if you win the Daytona 500, you can certainly win the 400. In a split consensus among The 4, two really like Hamlin. And why not with his success here?

Brad Keselowski (11-1): One more time, it’s split with two of The 4 having BK and Doc putting him on top. He did win here in 2016. Also keep in mind Fords have dominated this race recently.

Kyle Busch (15-1): Guess who picked Busch to win? It would be fitting for him to get his first win of the season in the last regular season race of the season.

Longshot Plays: Jimmie Johnson (18-1); Ricky Stenhouse (20-1) and Matt DiBenedetto (28-1).

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