The NASCAR Cup Series resumes Sunday when drivers head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Cup 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 – before continuing as the ‘Coca-Cola 600’ once again. That’s a mouthful! Below, we’ll analyze this week’s NASCAR Cup Series odds.
What Happened Last Time?
Kyle Larson enters as the defending champion of the NASCAR CUP Coca-Cola 600 after finishing 24th in the All-Star race. Larson isn’t a driver that is typically kept down. A complete 180, seeing him win 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 +500 odds as the Coca-Cola 600 favorite.
Are the Favorites worth it?
Also right up there with Larson atop the odds boards is Kyle Busch at +550. 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, 20 times and inside the top 5, 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 Jr. 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 ever 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 5, 7 times.
Another driving force behind his odds is the fact 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. When betting on a NASCAR race, it can be quite valuable investigating which types of tracks drivers perform well on compared to others, not just individual tracks.
At +650 with the third-lowest odds is Chase Elliott. Honestly, 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 with the NASCAR Cup Coca-Cola 600.
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 seventeenth 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 5, 10 times. It’s also hard to overlook Hamlin’s success on intermediate tracks, as he has the third-most wins among active drives 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 payday 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 yet this season after three wins 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 lead 164 laps. In the second race, he qualified second, won Stage 2, led 51 laps and finished 31st.
Tyler Reddick at +1400 has some value as well. While he is a frequent mention in these pieces, he did win last weekend’s Xfinity Series race. He has just three starts at Charlotte in the Cup Series, but has finished inside the top 15 all three times and inside the top 10 twice. It’s a much smaller sample size than some of the other drivers we’ve mentioned, but he could have gained the confidence boost he needed last weekend to translate to the Cup Series.
Ross Chastain has been incredibly consistent this year. He’s still just one of two drivers with multiple wins on the season. Including his two wins, Chastain has finished in the top five seven times this season, more than any other driver. He’s in contention every week, but might be better off taking a top-5 or top-10 bet on Chastain rather than an outright.
Where’s the Value?
There’s a good chance you think we have 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 Jr. 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 tenth 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 tracks 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-5 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 longshot to cash, he did come in ninth.Follow us on Twitter