NASCAR betting gears up for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, as auto racing's elite look to continue asserting themselves after an upset-heavy start to the season.
Defending 2020 Cup Series champ Chase Elliott notched his first win of this year's circuit last weekend — can another favorite find the Winner's Circle?
Get the inside track on your bets with Covers Experts' Auto Racing Advisor preview and picks for the Coca-Cola 600, which gets underway at 7:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 30.
Coca-Cola 600 favorites
Martin Truex Jr. (+400)
Truex has won two of the last five Coke 600s and was second in another. In fact, he has five straight Top-6 finishes in this race overall. He led 116 laps in his 2019 win. In fact, he’s dominated Charlotte’s oval lately, with laps led of 131, 0, 392, 0, 233, 91, 0, 116, 87, and zero in his last 10 starts there.
Chase Elliott (+550)
At Charlotte, Elliott has three Top-4 finishes in his last four Coke 600 tries. If not for a late caution last year, he would have won the ‘600. He rebounded and won the second oval race a few days later.
Kyle Busch (+600)
In his last six Coke 600 starts, he’s scored five Top-6 finishes, including four of his last five being a Top-4 result. He won this race in 2018 and has led one lap, 63 laps, 22 laps, 377 laps, 79 laps, and no laps respectively in his last seven Charlotte oval starts.
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Coca-Cola 600 long-shot picks
Ryan Blaney (+1,600)
He's already won on a 1.5-mile track in Atlanta this season. Add to the fact that he was third in the second oval race at Charlotte last year and you have reason to take a chance on a driver that's only had two Top 10s in nine oval starts at Charlotte.
Christopher Bell (+2,500)
Worth a look. Bell was ninth in last year's Coke 600 and is now with a JGR car.
Kurt Busch (+3,300)
He's ready for a '600 win. Busch has three Top-8 finishes in his last four Charlotte oval starts, along with eight in his last 10 tries.
Coca-Cola 600 matchup pick
Christopher Bell (-143) vs. Tyler Reddick (+108)
Reddick finished eighth in this race last year. Bell was ninth. But Reddick also enters on a hot streak with six Top 10s in his last eight starts. He's beaten Bell head-to-head in five straight races and getting plus money.
PICK: Reddick (+108)
Coca-Cola 600 fades
Denny Hamlin (+750)
He's a Top-5 machine, but his 550 package hasn't translated well so far, with two of his four finishes outside of the Top 10. His last two Coke 600 finishes were 17th and 29th respectively.
Brad Keselowski (+1,000)
Weird having the defending champ of this race on here, but Keselowski has two finishes of 16th or worse in four tries on 550 tracks this season and just three Top 5s in his last 12 Charlotte oval starts.
Kevin Harvick (+1,100)
He's not his usual dominating self this season and hasn't finished better than fifth in his last four oval starts in Charlotte. He was 20th in Vegas and 10th in Atlanta on 1.5-mile tracks this season. While second in Kansas, that track doesn't translate well to Charlotte.
Joey Logano (+1,400)
His finishes on 550 tracks this year? 25th, 9th, 15th, and 17th respectively. Logano has five finishes of 13th or worse in his last seven Charlotte oval starts too.
Coca-Cola 600 preview
The Toyotas have been, bar none, the best at Charlotte in recent years. They’ve won four of the last six Coke 600s and three of the last five on the oval overall. The question is, was 2020 the start of their fall on the 1.5-mile North Carolina racetrack?
Brad Keselowski won the ‘600 in a Ford last May, while Chase Elliott (Chevrolet) won the second oval race a few days later. The Toyotas paled in comparison last year to the years past.
So far this season, they’ve been solid, but not dominant on 550 tracks too.
Denny Hamlin has a Top 5 in half of the four races run on 550 tracks. He’s also had four Top 5s in his last six Charlotte oval starts too. Kyle Busch has four top 10’s and a trio of Top 5s, including a win in four 550 races in 2021 to go along with five Top-6 results in his last seven Charlotte oval tries. Martin Truex Jr. has similar stats as Busch on 550s and has been the most dominant for the Toyota grouping at Charlotte lately too.
The thing is, they were 4-6-29 in the ‘600 with all 87 combined laps led by Truex Jr., and 2-9-29 in the second race.
Team Penske should be the ones to pick then, as they’ve been so strong thus far. But what if I told you that, historically, they struggle in this race? Joey Logano may have finished runner-up in 2019, but that’s his only Top 5 over his last eight Charlotte oval starts. Four of his last seven Charlotte oval starts have actually resulted in a finish of 21st or worse. On 550 tracks, Logano has finished 25th, ninth, 15th, and 17th respectively this year.
His teammate Brad Keselowski was fourth in 2018 and stole a win last year, but three of his last six finishes were 39th, 15th, and 19th, respectively. He’s been 16th, 2nd, 28th, and third on 550 tracks in 2021 too.
This could be handed to Hendrick Motorsports. They’ve been quick on 550 tracks and have been really good at Charlotte lately. Elliott has three straight Top-4 finishes, including four of his last five overall on the Charlotte oval. William Byron was ninth in this race in 2019 while Alex Bowman has two Top 10s in his last four. Kyle Larson has three Top 5s in four starts on 550 tracks and the only reason it’s not four-for-four is that he crashed out in overtime at Kansas after leading the most laps. Byron has a Top 10 in all of them too. Bowman has two Top 10s in four tries himself.
Another thing to watch is that starting position hasn’t mattered much lately in the 600-mile race. Six of the last seven race winners on the oval have come from a starting spot outside of ninth or worse.
Coca-Cola 600 key stat
The last two Coca-Cola 600s have seen the winner of the second stage finish 19th. In fact, the 2020 and 2019 Coke 600s saw Alex Bowman win Stages 1 and 2 in 2020 and Brad Keselowski in 2019. They didn’t win the race outright in the end.
Other than Kyle Busch sweeping all three stages in 2018, the winner of the ‘600 ended up winning a stage on just one occasion.