Fresh off the “old-school ass whipping” Kyle Larson and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team unleashed at the NASCAR All-Star Race, the 2021 Cup Series champion is once again the favorite heading into the Coca-Cola 600 (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET on Fox).
Larson enters the weekend as the favorite at 5-to-1, according to BetMGM. Larson is famously strong on short tracks, having won points races at Martinsville and Richmond already this season in addition to last weekend’s feature at North Wilkesboro, but he performs well on the intermediate tracks as well. In the 10 races on Charlotte’s 1.5-mile dogleg oval that he has finished, his average place is 11.5, including a dominant win in 2021. Last year he drove all the way from the 36th spot on the grid to a ninth-place finish.
When times have been good for Larson and Hendrick teammate William Byron this season, they’ve been really good. The two have combined to lead an absurd 1,178 laps this season — just a little more than 1/3 of the total laps run — and have won five of the 13 races. On a track that suits both drivers’ styles and that HMS crews know how to set up for, it could be a long weekend for everyone else.
Here’s a look at what else you need to know to bet Sunday’s race:
• Kyle Larson +500
• William Byron +700
• Denny Hamlin +800
• Martin Truex Jr. +900
Byron has won three of the four intermediate track races this season and finished fourth in the other. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin has three poles at Charlotte, tied with Kyle Busch for most in the field, and boasts an average finish of 11.9 in 31 races there. Martin Truex Jr. has three wins at Charlotte, tied with Kevin Harvick for most in the field, all coming in the last seven seasons.
Good mid-tier value
• Tyler Reddick +1400
• Kevin Harvick +1400
Last week we recommended not betting Reddick in the All-Star Race and he ended up finishing third, so this might be a case of the media jinx. But in four starts at Charlotte, Reddick has an average finish of 9.3 — the best in the field. In 40 career starts, Harvick has three wins, 21 top 10s and has finished on the lead lap 26 times.
Don’t bet this driver
• Alex Bowman +1800
Bowman has a successful track record at Charlotte, posting four top 10s in 11 Cup Series starts there, and is in Hendrick machinery, but this will be his first race back after suffering a fractured vertebra in a sprint car crash last month. An ailing back and the longest mileage race of the year isn’t an enticing combination.
Looking for a long shot?
• Ty Gibbs +6000
Gibbs has never run a Cup Series car at Charlotte, but he won in his first Xfinity Series start there in 2021 and drove from 38th on the grid to finish second there last season.