Wager Alarm Best Bets: Coca-Cola 600
Matt Selz studies the track, the drivers, the odds, and everything else to bring you the best bets for NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600.
Welcome to the newest feature for Wager Alarm with NASCAR Best Bets kicking off with this week’s Coca-Cola 600. Aside from the season kick-off with the Daytona 500, this is the biggest race of the schedule and is also the longest race of the year.
Charlotte Motor Speedway is the host track and is a pretty standard 1.5-mile layout with banking at 24 degrees in each of the four corners. This race tends to favor more experienced drivers winning it due to the length and the physical toll that it takes on the drivers as they go around the track 400 times at 180 mph and racking up the Gs in corners, so keep that in mind when looking at who to place bets on whether it’s outright winners, position finishes, or prop bets.
Let’s get to some picks.
Kyle Busch – 11/4
Busch is the prohibitive favorite for Sunday night’s race in Charlotte and for good reason. He is the defending winner of the race and led 377 of 400 laps from the pole in last year’s event. This year he has finished in the top-10 in every race but one so far and has multiple wins. He will start the race third and ran the fastest long-run speeds of anyone indicating he should have the best car for the race. A dominant driver in a dominant car, that’s a grouping we like a lot.
Martin Truex Jr. – 23/4
Truex Jr. won this race in 2016 by leading all but eight of the 400 laps for the most dominating performance in NASCAR history. He then led 233 laps in 2017’s event but didn’t win. Overall, he’s finished in the top-five spots in four-straight Coca-Cola 600s, the only one in the field to accomplish that, including a runner-up finish in last year’s event. This year, Truex Jr. has struggled at 1.5-mile tracks so far but the last few weeks he’s been back to his normal looking self in terms of speed and running near the front. At these odds, it’s hard to pass up placing some greenbacks on the driver of the 19-car.
Denny Hamlin – 18/1
Hamlin has five top-five finishes in the last six 1.5-mile races at Charlotte including finishing third in the Coca-Cola 600 last year. At 1.5-mile tracks this year, Hamlin has been very good in this package over four races at that distance including a win at Texas six weeks ago, the most similar track to Charlotte on the schedule. Hamlin will have to start further back than anyone else in this piece, but he also had the second-best car in the Saturday practices, behind his teammate Kyle Busch, and there are plenty of laps for him to get the chance to move up to the front. Given his starting spot of 20th, this is a bit more of a riskier bet even with a good payoff.
Erik Jones – 20/1
Jones finished seventh in this race last year, his lone top-10 in two tries at the Coca-Cola 600 but this year, this distance has been his strong suit. In the four races run on 1.5-mile tracks this year, Jones has the best average finish in the Cup series at 6.75 with a third-place finish coming at Kansas two weeks ago. He has top-five speed this week after qualifying 16th and if you’ve caught the pattern, he makes the fourth Joe Gibbs Racing driver I like this week. The odds work well to put a partial bet on Jones on Sunday night.
Daniel Suarez – 50/1
When we’re looking at long shots, we’re looking for guys that have qualified high and have the car to stay there. That’s what Suarez did and has. He qualified sixth for the race and then backed that spot up with running inside the top-five in single-lap and long-run speeds in race trim practices on Saturday. In the last three 1.5-mile races this year, he has been solid including a third-place finish at Texas, again a very similar track to Charlotte.
Austin Dillon – 80/1
Just like with Suarez, Dillon qualified highly, fourth, and has a car that can stay there having shown nearly identical speed to Suarez in practice on Saturday. The difference here, aside from the longer odds, is the fact that Dillon has won this race before, in 2017 in fact. During Saturday’s practice sessions, Dillon was heard on his in-car radio telling his crew that this car is the best car he’s ever had at Charlotte and loved the way it drove. I don’t know about you, but at 80/1 odds, that’s the kind of stuff I like to hear to take a shot on a guy with this long of odds.