Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (Cup Series) Predictions and Odds

  • It’s a Chevy show during qualifying, but will that hold for NASCAR’s longest race?
  • Now that Chase Elliott has his first win of the season, a second might be imminent.
  • Slowly but surely, Kevin Harvick is finding competitive speed this season.

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There’s ample reason why the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is considered one of the crown-jewel races of the NASCAR Cup Series. First of all, it’s NASCAR’s longest event.

Adding to the challenge is a 6 p.m. start that guarantees dramatically changing track conditions as the race progresses from twilight to darkness, and the racing surface cools accordingly.

Because the race is scheduled for 400 laps (600 miles), it’s the only NASCAR event of the season that features four stages instead of three. The stage breaks divide the event into four equal segments of 100 laps each.

How to Watch Coca-Cola 600

Coca-Cola 600 Information
Race Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series Race
Location Charlotte Motor Speedway
Time Sunday, May 30, 6 p.m. ET
How to Watch FOX

Chevrolet Drivers Dominate Qualifying, But What About the Race Itself?

The second qualifying session of the season on an asphalt oval was no contest. Chevrolet drivers swept the top four positions, six of the top seven and eight of the top 10.

Not surprisingly, Hendrick Motorsports was the unquestioned powerhouse in time trials. Kyle Larson claimed the pole position after a stellar late run, with teammates Chase Elliott and William Byron running third and fourth, respectively, and Alex Bowman grabbling the seventh starting spot.

Larson was the favorite to win the race even before he snagged the top position on the grid. Now he’s posted at +340 on PointsBet Sportsbook as the clear choice of oddsmakers.

But will cars that were trimmed out for qualifying also perform in race trim? Charlotte is a track that changes radically during the course of a 600-mile race that starts in daylight and ends in darkness.

Historically, Charlotte hasn’t been a good track for Larson—but that was before he signed on with Hendrick Motorsports between seasons. Now his confidence is positively brimming.

I hope we can have a great day and tomorrow night and keep up with the race track and how it’s changing and lead the whole race is my goal

Larson said after the qualifying session.

The only question is whether Larson can maintain his focus for 400 laps. With his dirt-racing background, Larson is more accustomed to 30-40-lap features than he is to 600-mile marathons.

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Are the Other Hendrick Drivers Better Betting Choices Than Larson?

Last Sunday at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott won where he’s accustomed to winning—on a road course.

The only unusual aspect of Elliott’s rain-soaked victory? That it was his first of the season. But when Elliott wins, he typically wins in bunches.

To secure his first Cup Series title, Elliott won three of the last five races last season, including the final two. In fact, he’s the last Cup driver to win consecutive races.

At +600, Elliott is the second choice at the sportsbooks and much more attractively priced than Larson. Teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman are priced at +1300 and +1400, respectively, and all four Hendrick drivers start within the top seven.

At Dover two weeks ago, the four Hendrick drivers swept the top four finishing positions, with Bowman taking the checkered flag. Could another 1-2-3-4 finish be in the offing for Charlotte?

Kevin Harvick Has Found Some Speed of Late and Seems Poised for Victory

It’s true that Kevin Harvick hasn’t won a NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte since 2014, the same year he claimed his only championship to date.

It’s also true that the winner of a series-best nine races last year has yet to scratch this season. Even more dramatic is the dip in laps led, from 1,539 in 36 races last year to 39 laps led through 14 events ion 2021.

However, in his last outing on a 1.5-mile speedway (Kansas), Harvick showed a noticeable improvement in speed and finished second to Kyle Busch.

In Saturday morning qualifying, Harvick had the fastest Ford. He secured the fifth spot on the grid for Sunday’s 600-mile race.

“To come out and qualify well is a testament to the whole team,” Harvick said.

Everybody is working hard. I know it’s not exactly where we want to be as far as performance, but I feel like we’re getting better. We did better at Kansas, and we’ll just keep plugging away.

Harvick is likely to do more than just plug away on Sunday. We think he’ll be contending for the win. That’s why we consider him the best bet on the board at +1200.

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Reid Spencer

Expert on NASCAR

Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]