It’s Memorial Day Weekend in the United States and that means it’s time for one of NASCAR’s biggest races of the year and also its longest: the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 400 laps around Charlotte’s 1.5-mile track Sunday changes drastically from start to finish. As the sun sets and the track becomes cooler, the more grip on the racetrack a car has but when the green flag drops, the hot track can cause cars to slip and slide. Kyle Busch is the +550 favorite along with Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr.
2017 NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 Betting Preview & Odds
The Coca-Cola 600 has been the site of many drivers’ first wins, including future champions David Pearson (1961), Jeff Gordon (1994), Bobby Labonte (1995), and Matt Kenseth (2000). The most recent driver to have the 600 as his first win was David Reutimann, who won a rain-shortened event in 2009. The race begins around 6 p.m. ET and will be shown on Fox Sports.
It’s the second straight week NASCAR is at Charlotte following last week’s All-Star Race. Busch was the winner of that. It was his first win in his 12th attempt; the largest number of starts before an All-Star Race win the previous record was held by Tony Stewart with 11 All-Star starts before his win in 2009.
Larson, who also won Stage 1 and 2 in the event, finished runner-up. Jimmie Johnson won Stage 3. He also finished the event third, his ninth top-five finish in race, a series-most.
If he wins on Sunday, Busch will become the eighth driver to win both the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010). Busch’s victory last weekend may have been his first Cup Series win at Charlotte, but that’s not because he has been struggling at the track. Busch’s 908 laps led here are the third most among active drivers.
Could Dale Earnhardt Jr. win as a +4000 long shot? In Earnhardt Jr.’s final full-time season as a driver, he was asked which race he’d most like to win. The answer? The Coca-Cola 600. It’s is one of NASCAR’s most iconic races, and Junior grew up at the track and watching races. This is his backyard — and he has yet to win a points-paying race at the 1.5-mile Charlotte facility. Earnhardt was out front when the white flag fell in 2011. His No. 88 Chevrolet went dry on the backstretch, allowing Kevin Harvick to speed around him for the victory.
Larson is the current points leader and has a third-place average finishing position on intermediate tracks this season. This will be Larson’s fourth time running the Coca-Cola 600. He only has one finish in the top-10 in those races, but the No. 42 team has never been running as well as they are in 2017.
Truex Jr. is the defending champion. He led 392 of the 400 laps in one of the most dominating wins in NASCAR history. Truex has won five of the last 11 races on the 1.5-mile tracks. He leads the series in average finishing position, laps led and driver rating in races similar to Charlotte. Johnson is +800. The only driver to win more Coca-Cola 600s than Johnson is Darrell Waltrip with five.
Johnson has won this event four times with his most recent victory coming in 2014. Johnson finished third last year and won the 2016 Bank of America 500. So Johnson has finished fourth or better in five of his last nine appearances at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Number of previous races: 116.
First Sprint Cup race: June 19, 1960, won by Joe Lee Johnson.
Last Sprint Cup race: October 9, 2016, won by Jimmie Johnson.
Won from pole: 16, last time by Martin Truex, Jr. in 2016.
Won from top-5 starting position: 66 times in 116 races (57%).
Won from top-10 starting position: 88 times (76%).
Won from 21st or worse starting position: 9 times (8%).
Worst starting spot for race winner: 37th, by Jimmie Johnson in 2003.
Most laps led: 392, by Martin Truex, Jr. in 2016.
Fewest laps led by a race winner: 2, by Kevin Harvick in 2011.
Fastest race: 160.655 mph by Martin Truex, Jr. in 2016.
Fastest qualifying speed: 197.390 mph by Kyle Busch in 2014.
Most lead changes: 54 in 1979.
Closest finish: Jimmie Johnson’s .027 second margin over Bobby Labonte in 2005.
Most caution flags: 22 in 2005.
From 2012-2016 a typical Charlotte race had 22.7 lead changes, 7.0 cautions for 36.3 laps, and an
average green-flag run of 41.3 laps