Coca-Cola 600

This weekend marks the historic 60th running of the Coca-Cola 600, a racing “Crown Jewel” and the longest race of the Nascar season. Every year Nascar salutes our veterans on this occasion and it’s an all-around great racing event in the middle of the season. Charlotte has long been considered a hub for Nascar racing as many teams have their home shops located nearby. Charlotte Motor Speedway is a 1.5 mile quad-oval with 24 degrees of banking in the corners. It is the only race of the season with 4 stages and plenty of dominator points (300) to go around. Only seven times has the winner of the All-Star race (Larson) gone on to win the Coca-Cola 600 in the same year. Kurt Busch is the only driver in the series to have finished in the top ten in every 1.5 mile race this season. This week’s aero package is identical to last week’s All-Star race.

As a veteran, I appreciate all of the Nascar entities involved in saluting our country’s great veterans this weekend. One of many examples is a cool side story wherein Goodyear changed the branding on their tire walls to honor our veterans this weekend. They will read “Honor and Remember” instead of “Eagle”.

Kyle Busch is the defending champion of the event and already has 3 wins to his credit in 2019. Alex Bowman has finished runner-up in the last three Coca-Cola 600’s. Truex, and Kyle Busch have each led over 375 laps in winning 2 of the last 3 events. Four out of the last twelve races (33%) have been won on fuel mileage rather than dominant speed/hp.

Past Coca-Cola 600 winners entered this week are Johnson (4), Harvick (2), while Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Truex, and Austin Dillon all have one win each. You might notice that this week’s article focuses on only 8 drivers, all but one of which, are in the 8k and up range. Drivers in the salary ranges below that are so near to equal in value that I chose not to focus on those and instead focus on the best values at the top of the slate. This leaves you many options for filling out your rosters among the lesser salaried drivers. You’ll still find some of my favorite plays among those drivers at the end of the write-up.

It’s important to note that at Charlotte it’s all about picking the right “Dominator” and then pairing them with the best values. Due to the incredible values among the higher salaried drivers this week, and DK’s pricing which is up across the board combined with a lack of value in the 7k range, there are some deep punts that I consider viable this week in the right line. As always, my articles are directed at DK gpp formats, but I will be around in chat to discuss FD options and cash plays for those players interested. Let’s get to it.

Kyle Busch (11200) – Busch has been phenomenal at Charlotte, where he’s finished in the top five 41% percent of the time, and in the top ten 59% percent of his races here. Last fall at Charlotte, Busch dominated here, and surprisingly won just his first Charlotte race. That’s a hard stat to comprehend given how well he’s finished here on average. In addition to the win, he lead 377 laps and achieved a perfect driver rating. In the 2017 spring race, Busch started 2nd, finished 2nd, and led 63 laps. Busch ran up front for much of the All-Star race last week. Busch starts up front and will be a tough fit on race day at his salary. Busch had the best 10, 15, and 20 lap average speeds in happy hour. He’s sure to get a fair share of dominator points, but will it be enough to pay off value?

Martin Truex Jr. (10600) – Truex is a recent winner here who has 6 top fives in the last 7 races. Over the last three Charlotte races he has the best average finish (2.0) and the best average running position (5.0) of any driver in the series. Last spring at Charlotte, Truex finished 2nd despite a pit road speeding violation mid-race. Truex won the 2017 fall race, leading 91 laps on his way to victory. He finished 3rd in the spring 2017 event, but dominated most of the race, leading 233 laps. He also won the 2016 spring race, starting on the pole, and leading a record 392 laps. He had a perfect composite driver rating that day, with the best driver rating (1st), average running position (1st) to go along with the win and leading the most laps. Many will point to Kyle Busch as the favorite this weekend, but it’s Truex who has the best recent history here, and by a comfortable margin. Truex starts 14th and is a great play this week. Truex had the 5th best 15 lap average in happy hour.

Kevin Harvick (10800) – Harvick is a three-time winner at this track. He’s finished in the top ten in 9 of the 11 races over the past six years. Last fall, Harvick started in the rear of the field and charged to the front, only to have a tire go down and send him into the wall. In the 2017 fall race, Harvick led a race high 149 laps and finished 6th when the checkered flag waved. In the 2017 spring race, Harvick started on the pole, finished 8th, and led 45 laps. Harvick has run well in recent weeks, even showing dominance at times, but one thing or another, such as a loose wheel at Kansas, has taken him out of contention. His day is coming. Harvick was the best car all day at last week’s All-Star event, only to lose a combined 17 positions on the track due to his pit crew’s poor performance in the final two stops of the race. He led the most laps, yet started the last 15 laps in 17th place out of 19 cars. He still managed, in only 15 laps, to finish 2nd and nearly won the race. Harvick is definitely in our crosshairs this week. He starts 5th. Like Kyle Busch, he’ll get dominator points this week, but will it be enough?

Brad Keselowski (10100) – Keselowski will be high on my radar this week. He’s a past winner with 5 top tens in the last 7 races. Last spring, Keselowski finished 4th. The 2017 season was a forgettable year at Charlotte for Keselowski, but he finished between 5th and 9th in the four races prior to that. Keselowski has been nothing short of dominant this year at 1.5 mile tracks. Keselowski wasn’t particularly fast on All-Star weekend and has struggled a bit with speed this week. He qualified 21st and provides great value for us as he’s sure to move up on race day. Keselowski had the 5th best 20 lap average in happy hour.

Kyle Larson (9600) – Larson’s struggles have been epic this season. He’s been fast, but one thing or another has derailed his races throughout 2019. At Charlotte, Larson has run well and in 3 of the last 4 races he’s finished in the top ten. Charlotte has a high-line that comes into play at this venue, and there’s nobody better in all of Nascar at making use of the high line than Larson. Last spring at Charlotte, Larson finished 7th, despite spinning and tagging the wall late in the race. He finished 10th in the 2017 fall race. Larson qualified for, and then went on to win last week’s million dollar All-Star race here at Charlotte, after first winning the Open race in order to make the show. Larson qualified 25th and is a fantastic play this week. His ownership numbers will be high due to last week’s big win, but he’s the top value on the slate from a salary perspective.

Denny Hamlin (9200) – Hamlin recently won at Texas which is a similar 1.5 mile track. At Charlotte he has 14 top tens in the last 16 races. In 5 of the last 6 races he’s finished in the top 5. His average finish of 4.0 since 2017 is among the best in Nascar. Hamlin finished 3rd here last spring. In the 2017 fall race, Hamlin started on the pole, and led 45 laps. He finished 5th here in the race before that. Hamlin qualified 20th and provides one of the better values this week. Hamlin finished happy hour with the 2nd best 15 lap average and 3rd best 20 lap average.

Jimmie Johnson (8300) – Charlotte has been a great track for Johnson. He’s an 8-time winner here, who’s finished in the top five 47% percent of the races, and in the top ten 62% percent of the races. Those numbers are amazingly similar to one of this week’s favorites, Kyle Busch. Over Johnson’s last five races here he has 1 win, a 6.6 average finish, and has finished in the top 7 in 4 of those races. Last spring at Charlotte, Johnson finished 5th. In the 2017 fall event, Johnson had a 7th place finish. In 2016, Johnson led 155 laps and raced his way to victory in the fall, and in the spring he finished 3rd. Johnson qualified 15th and is a solid play based on his experience here. He knows how to get to the end of these grueling events and I’ll have at least a share or two of him on race day despite DK’s continued overpricing of this veteran driver. Late breaking…JJ did struggle with handling in happy hour.

Bubba Wallace (5700) – Bubba only has one race at Charlotte in his history, with a 16th place finish to show for his efforts. Bubba continues to tease folks with speed in practice and qualifying each week. It’s not yet translated to DFS success for us on race day however, so proceed with caution when rostering Bubba. Bubba had a good week at the All-Star race, which is encouraging, and he’s included in this week’s article because we need someone to round out rosters if we want to be able to fit in all of the top shelf drivers we want this week. He’s only $5700, and projects as the best sub-6k value on the slate. Bubba rolls off 29th, and if he can get close to the teens, will easily pay off value. Rostering Bubba isn’t for the faint of heart however, as his window is large, and he could easily end up 30th or worse.

Other drivers I like are Elliott, Logano, Jones, and Bowman.

Salary-savers this week are Ty Dillon, DiBenedetto, Ragan, and if you really need to punt…Kligerman.

Dominator potentials this week are Kyle Busch, Harvick, Logano, and Truex.

Movers this week are Larson, Keselowski, Hamlin, and Truex.

Fades for me this week are Austin Dillon and McDowell.

My pick to win the race this week is none other than Kyle Busch.