The NASCAR Cup Series resumes Sunday when drivers head to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600. The Coca-Cola 600 ran annually from 1986-2001 before changing the race’s name to the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 in 2002 and eventually returning as the Coca-Cola 600 once again.
Let’s check the latest news, stats, reports and NASCAR odds for NASCAR Coca-Cola 600. We’ve plenty of predictions for you to consider.
What Happened Last Time?
Kyle Larson enters as the defending champion of the Coca-Cola 600 after finishing 24th in the All-Star race. Larson isn’t a driver that is typically kept down, and doing a complete 180 and winning this week wouldn’t shock many people.
In his win at Charlotte last year, he dominated from start to finish. He was the pole-sitter entering the race, finished first at the end of both sessions and led 327 of the 400 laps. Will such a perfect race be in the cards? Likely not. But his dominance in the race last year warrants his +550 odds as the Coca-Cola 600 favorite.
Are Favorites Worth It?
Right up there with Larson atop the odds boards is Kyle Busch at +600. Busch has an average finish of 14.3 in 33 Cup Series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including a win back in 2018. He also won at Charlotte when the All-Star Race was held there back in 2017.
While he may just have the one Cup Series win, Busch has been incredibly consistent at Charlotte, both in his career and recently. In 33 Cup Series races, he’s finished inside the top 10 on 20 occasions and inside the top five 15 times. In his last five Cup Series races at Charlotte, he’s finished fourth or better. He’s also the active leader in laps led at Charlotte with 1,450, almost 400 more than Martin Truex Jr.’s 1,059.
Truex enters as having the fourth-lowest odds for the Coca-Cola 600 at +800. While his 29th-place finish in last year’s Coca-Cola 600 was the third-worst outing he’s had at Charlotte in 30 races, his highs incredibly outweigh the lows he’s had here. Including his three wins, he’s finished inside the top 10 13 times and inside the top five seven times. Another driving force behind his odds is the fact that he has the second-best average finish on intermediate tracks (1.5 miles) at 12.7, as well as the fifth-most wins on such tracks with 14.
Chase Elliott has the third-lowest odds at +650. You could’ve made an argument that he deserved to be the favorite this weekend. In his last four races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he has a win, two second-place finishes and a fourth-place finish. Typically, favorites this low don’t make it on my card, but that could change this weekend.
Best of the Rest
Denny Hamlin will be another Toyota to have your eyes on this weekend. He finished seventh in last year’s Coca-Cola 600 and second the year before that. The near-win was still likely a relief for Hamlin, as he hadn’t finished better than 17th in his last three races on the track. However, he does have a lone win at Charlotte, which came back in the 2015 All-Star Race.
In 30 Cup Series races, He’s finished inside the top 10 19 times and inside the top five 10 times. It’s also hard to overlook Hamlin’s success on intermediate tracks, as he has the third-most wins among active drivers with 16. You can currently get Hamlin at +1000 odds. He was on my card last week, and we almost cashed, but just missed out on the pay day just as Hamlin did, with a second-place finish.
Ryan Blaney (+1000) has a chance to build off his performance at the All-Star Race where he took the checkered flag as well as the $1 million prize. Despite not having a Cup Series win this year following a three-win season in 2021, he’s still second in the standings. Over his last four races at Charlotte, Blaney’s average finish of eighth is the second highest in that span, including back-to-back, third-place finishes in 2020.
One driver almost certainly to be in the mix is Alex Bowman (+1400). He finished fifth in last season’s Coca-Cola 600. He had a heartbreaking 2020 at Charlotte. He finished 19th in the first of the two races after winning both stages and leading 164 laps. In the second race, he qualified second, won Stage 2, led 51 laps and finished 31st.
Where’s the Value?
There’s a good chance you think I’ve been wasting units on has-beens in this section. But the stats are the stats –; and the stats say Kevin Harvick is still pretty darn good at Charlotte. On top of being tied with Truex for the most Cup Series wins at Charlotte with three, he’s also won a pair of All-Star races here, the latest of which was just in 2018.
He’s finished exactly 10th in three of his last four races here, with the exception being a fifth-place finish in 2020. He’s also the active leader at intermediate tacks with 20 career wins and 6,243 laps led. At +2800, he’s still worth a long-shot bet. If that’s not for you, he could be a candidate for any top-five or top-10 bets.
Another driver that fits this mold is Brad Keselowski at +8000. He has two wins at Charlotte, the latest of which was in 2020. Over the last four races at Charlotte, he’s tied for the fourth-best average finish. Keselowski was on the card for the All-Star Race. While we didn’t get the long shot to cash, he did come in ninth.
Elliott at +650 is the first pick on my card. Larson won in dominant fashion here last year, But Elliott’s average finish of 2.3 over the last four races at Charlotte is too much to overlook. Elliott will win his second race of the year and add to his lead atop the Cup Series Standings.
Put me down for Bowman at +1400. He’s had some pretty bad luck, but has shown he can work his way to the front for a period of time. We’re hoping this is the week the luck changes for Bowman and he gets his second win of the season.
Don’t be afraid to bet lightly on Keselowski at +8000. His 15 wins at intermediate tracks are the fourth-most among active drivers. He looked a lot more promising in the All-Star Race last week, but we just have to hope it wasn’t just the dollar signs in his eyes that caused him to finish as high as he did.