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North Carolina Moonshine and Motorsports Trail

Best bet for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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Sunday is may be the greatest day of the year for motorsports fans. The day kicks off with a 9am Eastern time start of the F1 Monaco Grand Prix. If the weather cooperates we will then get the Indy 500 at 12:45 Eastern. The day is capped off with the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 and the Coke 600 starting at 6:22 Eastern.

The Coke 600 is one of the “Crown Jewel” races of the NASCAR Cup Series. Its the longest race of the year for the series at, as the name suggests, 600 miles. Charlotte is one of the four “cookie cutter” intermediate tracks on the schedule in 2024. A 1.5-mile quad-oval, Charlotte has 24 degree banking the turns and 5 degree banking on the front and back straightaways. The track has seen increased tire wear over the past several years, but is still solidly in the moderate tire wear category.

When handicapping this race I am focused on two factors. First, driver performance in the intermediate package in 2024. Second, longer term driver performance on 1.5-mile ovals. For this second group I consider Texas, but weigh it less given the overall chaos we have seen at Texas Motor Speedway over the past few years.

Looking at my two focus factors a clear top tier cream of the crop drivers emerge. Over the five races on tracks over a mile in length using 2024 in the intermediate package five drivers have an average running position of under 10. I’m looking to this group of drivers for my best bet to place before practice and qualifying.

Martin Truex Jr. +270 to win Group B/2 over Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, and Ryan Blaney | FanDuel and DraftKings

(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

I’m a believer in the speed the Ford seems to have found the past few weeks. Every year around the Coke 600 we start to see a shift in the Cup Series with some teams that have been struggling seemingly figuring things out and starting to perform. Particularly at night in cooler temperatures the Fords have seemed to come to life. That said, I still think Truex should be the clear favorite to win this group.

Looking at Front Runners from Win the Race we see that at Kansas and Las Vegas Truex had an average running of 6.06 which is third best in the Cup Series (its also worth noting that Buescher only ran around 10% of the laps at Las Vegas, so this is mostly his Kansas number where he lost by .001 seconds to Larson).

If we expand our dataset to races using the intermediate package (minus Bristol), Truex’s average running position gets a bit higher, at 9.58. That 9.58 is still fifth best in the Cup Series though. Its also two full positions better than the next best driver in this group, Ryan Blaney. Blaney has an average running position of 11.70 over those five races. Chase Elliott comes in at 12.72 over those races. Brad Keselowski did just win at Darlington two weeks ago, but outside of that race his average running position has been over 16 at every other intermediate track.

If we look back at all races at Charlotte, Las Vegas, and Kansas dating back to last year Truex has the third best running position in those 7 races. He also has the third most laps run inside the Top 10. In those races he is tied with Kyle Larson for most Top 10 finishes with six.

Ultimately I given these numbers I think the fair odds on Truex to win this group are closer to +250. The Speed Geeks Sim Center at Win the Race agrees with me. In 10,000 simulations of the race the Sim Center has Truex winning this group over 30% of the time. That translates to fair odds of +232. To build in some margin of error I would bet this down to +250.

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