The NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro was a bit of a snoozer. Kyle Larson charged through the field, got the lead, and never looked back. The NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for this year’s Coca-Cola 600, a crown jewel event, on Sunday, May 28 at 6 p.m. ET. I’m here to break down the betting odds, make my predictions and identify the top NASCAR bets for this weekend’s action in Charlotte. Bubba Wallace stands out as an interesting NASCAR bet early this week.
This season, I will handicap the opening outright odds for the NASCAR Cup Series early in the week, and I’ll post a prop article once those markets become available. Only members of OddsShopper Insider Access will get access to my full betting card, but I will include most of it in articles and on our YouTube Channel.
The legal gambling age is 21+ in most states. Gambling Problem? Call or text 1-800-GAMBLER.
NASCAR Predictions for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte: Race Preview
Dominant Drivers Dominate the Coke 600
Last year’s Cup Series season produced 19 different winners. This year, nine different drivers have won races, but most drivers competing for wins on a weekly basis have already found victory lane. Of all drivers with at least 150 laps led, only one, Ross Chastain, is yet to seal the deal at least once. Unfortunately, the betting odds have started to reflect this predictable reality.
The Coca-Cola 600 is usually a predictable event, and like last weekend’s All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro, it lends itself to dominant runs. Kyle Larson led 300-plus laps in 2021. Kyle Busch did the same in 2018. Martin Truex Jr. led all but eight laps in 2016. Each of those drivers won the event after dominating from the get-go. All three also started on the pole.
None of those dominant runs came out of nowhere. In 2016, Truex started on the pole, led the most laps and recorded the best driver rating at Kansas a few weekends earlier. In 2018, Busch recorded a driver rating of 100-plus at both Las Vegas and Kansas. And in 2021, Larson led the most laps and recorded the best driver rating at both Las Vegas and Kansas.
Although the introduction of the NextGen car last season threw drivers for a loop, Las Vegas and Kansas still carried loads of predictive value for the Coke 600. Six of the nine drivers to record a driver rating of 90 or higher had done so at least once before that season on either track. Four, including race winner Denny Hamlin and driver rating leader Ross Chastain, did so at both venues.
What Do This Year’s Comparator Results Suggest?
I have some good news and bad news. The good news is that the list of drivers who excelled at both Las Vegas and Kansas is short. Only six drivers recorded a driver rating above 90 at both tracks. The bad news is that it isn’t very profitable to back each one of them on the betting markets. The sum of their implied odds adds up to 65.8%. Blindly backing each of them could yield a profitable betting card, but you’d essentially be buying a ticket with odds of -192.4. Not great, Bob!
Some value does emerge from that sample; for example, one driver owns odds of 20-1. But to parse through the other leading options, let’s revisit something I noted earlier: Larson, Busch and Truex all started their dominant runs from the pole. Even Hamlin won last year’s Coke 600 after starting on the pole, although he led only 15 of the 413 laps. So let’s add some qualifying data to the mix.
Last year, four of the top six drivers by starting position had also scored a top-six starting spot at Kansas a few weeks before. Four of the six drivers on our six-driver shortlist accomplished that feat at Kansas this season. Unsurprisingly, they’ll feature heavily in the NASCAR predictions I lay out below.
NASCAR Predictions for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte: Best Bets
Watermelon Man Smashes Another One
Ross Chastain nearly won last year’s Coke 600. He steadily surged up through the field after starting 22nd and won the third stage, entering the final fourth stage with some strong track position. He couldn’t hold on to the lead late but had race-winning speed. I expect a similarly strong performance out of him this year.
Given his strong performances at both Las Vegas and Kansas this year, Chastain should be considered a favorite heading into this event. He finished 12th at Las Vegas after starting eighth but scored the sixth-best driver rating (103.1). He then finished fifth at Kansas after starting third and also scored the sixth-best driver rating (101.2).
Although Chastain has had numerous run-ins with other drivers this year, he avoided causing any more problems with Kyle Larson in last weekend’s Cup and Truck Series events. Most drivers still aren’t happy with him, but Chastain hasn’t ruffled any new feathers since his last debacle. Let’s hope no one is angry enough to ruin his night come Sunday.
Best NASCAR Bet: Ross Chastain 10-1 for 0.19 Units at Caesars
Did you know you can get your name on Zane Smith’s No. 38 Ford F-150 in the Craftsman Truck Series Race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course — and $150 in bet credits? It’s not a controversial NASCAR prediction to say that Smith has a shot to win that race. Register for Tipico Sportsbook as soon as possible! More details and disclaimers for this exciting promotion can be found here.
Which Big-Team Drivers Should You Trust?
The two best teams at Kansas and Las Vegas were Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing. The Chevrolet and Toyota camps are the clear-cut lead options, so it’s not surprising to see drivers from the top-tier teams for each manufacturer atop the oddsboard. We’re staying away from Kyle Larson because of his incredibly short odds of 9-2, so which Toyota drivers should we target?
Three Toyota drivers recorded driver ratings greater than 90 at both Las Vegas and Kansas: Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Bubba Wallace. Of those three, Truex and Wallace have the most value for different reasons. At 9-1, Truex has better odds than Hamlin. He also qualified fourth at Kansas, which suggests he should put together another solid qualifying run this weekend.
Wallace owns the longest odds on our six-driver shortlist. At 20-1, he is a screaming value play this weekend. Although he qualified 13th at Las Vegas and 17th at Kansas, he bounced back to score a top-5 result in both events. He also recorded a driver rating above 100 and ranked top-6 in green-flag speed in both events. Wallace ranked fifth in green-flag speed in last year’s Coca-Cola 600, slightly behind his second-ranked teammate, Kurt Busch.
Best NASCAR Bet: Martin Truex Jr. 9-1 for 0.2 Units at BetMGM
Best NASCAR Bet: Bubba Wallace 20-1 for 0.09 Units at DraftKings