NASCAR Betting Guide: Coca-Cola 600
As odd as it may feel, we're going to have to lean on an exhibition if we want a good idea of who will be fast in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.
This week's race in Charlotte will be just the second time all year the Cup Series has run on a low-wear 1.5-mile track. The other was last week's All-Star Race in Texas. Outside of that, we have no data on tracks like this in the Next-Gen car.
We can absolutely lean on other races to give us signals, and we should. Not every team is going to push as hard in a non-points-paying race, so there can be pitfalls.
But we'd be silly to simply throw Texas out the window.
As such, I do have numbers from Texas included in my model for the Coca-Cola 600, and it's a decision I feel pretty comfortable with. It also does lead to some value popping up prior to the weekend.
Which bets should we look to lock in before practice and qualifying? Here are some that stand out at NASCAR odds.
Ryan Blaney to Win (+1200)
(UPDATE: Blaney has since shortened to +1000 to win.)
Before you bet Ryan Blaney, check William Byron's odds at books available to you. Byron opened at +1200 at FanDuel but has since shortened to +1000. My win simulations have Byron winning 9.7% of the time, so there is still a bit of value at +1000. But if you can get him at +1200 still, that's the best value of the week.
Among the lingering numbers at FanDuel, Blaney is my favorite. And it's not simply because he won last week's All-Star Race, though that is certainly a factor.
Blaney won that race in part due to chaos with contenders like Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, and Ross Chastain all crashing. But Blaney was also fast in practice, holding the best five-lap average of any driver on Saturday. He was fast in single-car qualifying, and he had the third-best median lap time, ahead of Elliott and Chastain despite running much deeper into the night. He was good all weekend.
This track type has traditionally been kind to Blaney. He was on the podium in both Charlotte races in 2020 and has had a top-six average running position in six of the past nine points-paying races in Texas. He did win in Atlanta last year prior to its reconfiguration, though that track features much more tire degradation than Charlotte.
All in all, my win simulations have Blaney winning 8.9% of the time, up from his implied odds of 7.7%. If you can't get Byron at +1200, then Blaney's the best value you've got.
Erik Jones to Finish Top 10 (+220)
Unlike Blaney, Erik Jones didn't have great speed in Texas, and that does ding his appeal. But the odds are underselling him here regardless.
Jones has quality form on bigger tracks for the year. He pushed for a win in Fontana, had good speed before a crash in Vegas, and likely would have pushed for a top 10 in Kansas if not for an issue with getting a tire off the car. Some bad luck has made his results worse than his speed.
We've traditionally seen teams aligned with Richard Childress Racing (which includes Petty/GMS) run well on the low-wear 1.5-mile tracks. Jones, himself, was decent on those tracks last year with a top-16 average running position in both Charlotte and Texas. Given the relative speed in the car that season, we should view that as a plus.
My model has Jones' top-10 odds at 38.7%, a good chunk higher than his implied odds of 31.3%. It's a high-hold market, so he's the only driver whose top-10 odds are shorter than +850 who's showing any value. It's a healthy edge, though, so the model could be a bit off and Jones would still grade out as being undervalued.
Austin Cindric Over Chase Briscoe (-112)
(UPDATE: This bet is no longer listed at FanDuel post-qualifying.)
Stewart-Haas Racing is completely out to lunch right now. As noted by numberFire's Austin Swaim on Twitter, SHR had the three slowest median lap times during the All-Star Race with Chase Briscoe bringing up the rear.
This is our best route for fading them.
Austin Cindric has outrun Briscoe on tracks like this all year. They've run four races on non-drafting ovals longer than a mile in length. Cindric has finished ahead of Briscoe in all four, and he had a better average running position in all but one. The lone exception was Darlington, which is the most different track from Charlotte of the bunch.
Basically, Penske has speed right now, and SHR doesn't. Cindric ranks 16th in my pre-practice model for the weekend while Briscoe is 25th. Non-outright markets haven't shifted much post-practice this year, but I'm not taking my chances. This is a bet I want to lock in now before cars are on the track.
Post-Qualifying Addition: William Byron to Win (+1200)
I talked about this in the blurb on Blaney, but my numbers were high on Byron entering the weekend. He may not have shown the same speed as the Toyotas, but his lengthening back to +1200 allows us to get him as a value.
Although the Toyotas were the talk of the town, Hendrick cars still had speed. Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman were right behind Martin Truex Jr. in five-lap averages, and Byron qualified fifth. Byron held his own in practice, too, sitting 8th in 5-lap average and 5th in 10-lap average.
Additionally, with Larson starting in the back, it opens up a little bit extra win equity at the front. Some of that goes to Toyotas, but it helped Byron stay pretty steady even without blazing speed.
As a result, my numbers still have Byron winning 9.6% of the time, up from his implied odds of 7.7%. I'll happily take that here, even if it means adding another outright that's not a Toyota.