The NASCAR Cup Series has experimented with a lot of different things this season. Last week’s experiment at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas went awry because of Mother Nature and some bad decision-making.
Change can be a good thing. In some respects, it has been for the Cup Series this season. However, sometimes there is nothing quite like old reliable. That’s what we get this week with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday night at 6 p.m. ET. It will be a return to a 1.5-mile track and that will be music to the ears of some drivers to be sure.
We’ll use the odds from BetOnline Sportsbook to survey the field and the best bets for the Coca-Cola 600.
|Martin Truex Jr||+425|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||+10000|
|Darrell Wallace Jr||+15000|
Coca-Cola 600 Betting Odds
It should come as no surprise to see Martin Truex Jr. as the race favorite +425. He won this race back in 2019 and in 2016 and was second and third the two years in between. He was sixth and ninth last year, but that was a weird season to say the least. Truex already has three wins, all on ovals, though two have been on short tracks.
Chase Elliott is the deserving second favorite at +550. Elliott won one of the two Charlotte races early last year and is the reigning two-time champion on the Roval course. He was second in the other Charlotte oval race last year. He’s also coming off of his first win of the season on the road course last week.
Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson should be thrilled to see oval tracks again. It was Busch that won at Kansas to get his playoff spot secured the last time the drivers ran on a 1.5-mile track. Denny Hamlin is +800 as he looks to get back on track after being outside the top five in four of his last five races.
Nobody is happier to see an oval track than the Penske guys, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney. Blaney won on the 1.5-mile at Atlanta earlier this year and Keselowski won at Talladega, but had good finishes on the other 1.5-mile tracks.
Well, nobody is happier except maybe Kevin Harvick, who hasn’t won a race yet and only has four top-five finishes, three of which have come on bigger ovals.
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Charlotte Motor Speedway is America’s Home for Racing. It is the home track for the NASCAR Cup Series and one of its signature tracks. It opened in 1960 and has 24-degree banking in the turns with five-degree straights. The main quad oval used to host two races per year, but NASCAR switched to the Roval in 2018. The Roval still incorporates parts of the main speedway track.
A lot of history has been made here over the years. Among active drivers, Kurt Busch has the most starts here with 39. He’ll log his 20,000th mile on the course this week. Ryan Newman has made 38 starts. Kevin Harvick has as well. He’ll be just shy of 20,000 miles if he makes it through the full 600 miles scheduled for this race.
Let’s take a quick peek at the standings because Charlotte Motor Speedway is a well-known track to all and we don’t have to cover any weird or quirky things this week.
Denny Hamlin still leads in points, but he hasn’t been racking them up as quickly of late. He still holds a 98-point lead over William Byron. Hamlin’s 178 stage points are 50 more than Kyle Larson, who sits third with 487 points, just 12 behind Byron. Joey Logano is one point behind Larson and Chase Elliott is five points behind Logano for the top five.
Martin Truex Jr. is the only driver with three wins, but he is sixth in points with 474. Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Busch round out the top 10, as Keselowski and Busch are tied with 422 points.
Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, and Michael McDowell make up the top 16. Those guys would all make the playoffs, as nobody outside the top 16 has a win at present.
Charlotte Checkered Flags
Truex has three wins here, all of which have come since 2016. He won the last regular fall race in 2017 and also won this spring race in 2016 and 2019. Overall, his performances over 29 starts include seven top-five finishes and 13 in the top 10. He’s been much stronger than that in recent years, though, especially with Furniture Row Racing and now Joe Gibbs Racing.
Joey Logano has the highest finish among active drivers with at least nine starts here. He’s got one win, which came in 2015, but he’s been in the top 10 in 11 of his 22 races.
Chase Elliott has been in the top 10 in five of nine starts and has a win here to go with his two Roval wins. Elliott won what was the Alsco Uniforms 500 here last year, as the pandemic shuffled the schedule around.
Kyle Busch’s 14 top-five finishes are the most among active drivers, but he’s only won once. That win came back in 2018.
Brad Keselowski won this race last year for his second career Charlotte win. The other came back in 2013.
Coca-Cola 600 Picks
It’s a standard-issue 1.5-mile track, so you basically pick one or two of the favorites and hope for the best. We should have a ton of clean racing here. My guess would be that all three Penske guys are pretty aggressive because they are all best on bigger tracks and there aren’t as many of those this year.
With that in mind, I like Blaney at +1400 and Keselowski at +1000. Blaney won earlier this year at Atlanta and Keselowski won one of the two Charlotte races last year. He’s also been very strong on 1.5-mile tracks like Kentucky in the past.
Coverage of the Coca-Cola 600 will be on Fox on Sunday May 30 at 6 p.m. ET.