NASCAR Betting Guide: Coca-Cola 600

We as bettors need to tell ourselves the same things NASCAR Cup Series drivers will tell themselves on Sunday night.

Pace yourself.

It's a 600-mile race, the longest of the year. So you can't burn all your equipment in the first stage. You've gotta leave something in the tank for the final 150 miles.

It's the same with our bankroll. Because there is practice and qualifying this weekend, we'll have additional opportunities to bet. We want to make sure we don't blow our entire allocation before we get that data.

It's just really dang hard.

That's especially true with some particularly juicy numbers hanging before practice at FanDuel Sportsbook. Let's run through those now, trying to keep our enthusiasm in check for the time being. Then if any additional value pops up later in the weekend, I'll circle back here and add those recommendations below.

Kyle Larson to Win (+550)

If there were a way we could bet the over/under on laps led for Kyle Larson, I might no-look bet the over. He's going to run out front on Sunday; I have no doubt about that.

The only question is whether he can seal the deal. I believe he can, and I'm willing to bet him at +550.

The reason we know Larson will dominate is how good he has been on the 1.5-mile tracks this year. He has had a top-five average running position in all four races, and he won one of them. No other driver has more than two top-five average running positions across the four-race sample. Larson, thus, has the best projected average running position in my model by 0.8 positions.

The pause comes from Larson's track record. He has never won a race longer than 400 miles. This tops by that by 200. Larson's aggressive driving style may not be conducive to such a long race, potentially limiting his win potential.

But that statistic doesn't account for the fact that Larson hasn't always had Hendrick Motorsports ponies under the hood. In the Atlanta race this year (the lone at a 1.5-mile track that was more than 400 miles), Larson had a first-place average running position and led 269 of 325 laps. He finished second, so that race could be used to bolster either side of this argument, but it's not like he junked his car.

It's not often you can say with relative certainty that one driver will likely dominate that weekend's race. We can say that with Larson. So even with the concerns about his ability to finish, I think there's enough reason to justify betting Larson at this number.

William Byron to Win (+1600)

If you want to bet William Byron, you should do it now. He's a tremendous qualifier, so his number is likely to shorten after qualifying on Saturday morning. As it stands now, there's value on Byron's outright.

Before adding in practice times, Byron's win odds in my simulations are 7.3%. His implied odds at +1600 are 5.9%. That's the biggest gap on the board for outrights, and it's enough for us to take the plunge.

The reason Byron grades out so well is what he has done in the 550 package this year. He has had a top-10 average running position in all four races at 1.5-mile tracks, including a win in Homestead. He also had a sixth-place average running position in Las Vegas, which features similar tire wear to Charlotte.

Byron has proven he can get around Charlotte, as well. He has a top-eight average running position in two of the past three races here. He's likely to have quick access to clean air thanks to qualifying, and he has shown he can capitalize on that recently. Don't be shocked if Byron's superstar turn this year continues with a win in the sport's longest race.

Austin Dillon to Finish Top 10 (+200)

This track type seems to suit Austin Dillon to perfection. Two of this three career wins have come at double-dog-leg tracks, one here in Charlotte and the other in Texas last year. I can't get to him for the outright at +5000, but his top-10 number stands out.

Since the start of last year, the Cup Series has run six races at Charlotte, Texas, or Atlanta. Dillon has had a top-10 average running position in four of those. In one of the exceptions, he and Tyler Reddick (+145 to finish top 10) used tire strategy to sweep the top two finishing spots. Two of those top-10 average running positions came in the two Charlotte races last May.

The tire strategy note is key here. Richard Childress Racing has been a pioneer in using analytics to determine when to pit for tires and how many tires to take, and they've used it to their advantage on low-wear tracks like Charlotte. That benefits Reddick, too, but with Dillon carrying the longer number, he seems to be the preferred option right now.

Matt DiBenedetto to Finish Top 10 (+250)

There's plenty of reason to be pumped about Dillon at his number. But the biggest gap between my simulations and FanDuel Sportsbook is actually with Matt DiBenedetto. It's the biggest discrepancy I can remember this year.

DiBenedetto's implied odds here are 28.6%. My simulations have him at 42.0%. The hold for top-10 markets tends to be high, so seeing a gap this big forced me to double-check the numbers I had on DiBenedetto, but they seem right. I just think he's mis-priced.

The reason for the optimism comes from a couple of sources. First, DiBenedetto has had speed on the 1.5-mile tracks this year with a top-12 average running position in Vegas, Atlanta, and Kansas. He turned that into finishes of 4th in Kansas and 11th in Atlanta. He would have finished up front in Vegas, but a tire issue on a pit stop forced DiBenedetto to baby the car the final 40 or so laps.

The second source is DiBenedetto's speed on the double-dog-leg tracks. In six races on those with Wood Brothers Racing, DiBenedetto has five top-13 average running positions. He's going to be running on the fringes of the top 10 all night, so +250 is a tremendous number. I wouldn't want to risk this one dropping after practice. I'd bet it now and potentially allocate more bankroll to it than I usually would for a pre-practice bet.

Bubba Wallace to Finish Top 10 (+700)

In the interest of transparency, my simulations do not show value here. I'm going against the data and leaning a bit on a narrative, but it does seem like something's being overlooked with Bubba Wallace this weekend.

The big thing is that Wallace is finally getting practice time with crew chief Mike Wheeler. With this being 23XI Racing's first season (and with practice being largely scrubbed due to the pandemic), they haven't had much time to de-brief after time on the track. They got that last week, and Wallace was having the best road-course run of his career before a crash ended his day early.

If we assume Wallace keeps performing as he has to-date on these tracks, you can't bet him at +700. But he's in good equipment. Most of this team worked for Leavine Family Racing last year, and they helped guide Christopher Bell to a third-place finish in Texas and a ninth in the Coca-Cola 600. They should have speed. So, even with the simulations being against us here, I'm down to bet Wallace at long odds for a top 10 and see if he can spring to life with extra on-track time.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to Finish Top 10 (+350)

Technically, my win simulations are showing value on a Ricky Stenhouse Jr. outright. He's +12500 (0.8% implied) compared to 2.2% in my simulations. I'm not opposed to taking a swipe at that, even though the probability it hits is low. The top-10 bet, though, has good odds of cashing.

At +350, Stenhouse's implied top-10 odds are 22.2%. My simulations have him getting there 35.5% of the time. It's in part due to his strong showing in practice yesterday, but he has also been strong in this rules package. He has had a top-11 average running position in two of the past three Charlotte races (all in the same package), and he has finished inside the top 13 in 3 of 4 races on 1.5-mile tracks this year.

If you want a true longshot winner, Stenhouse's the best lingering value. But if you're trying to spin a profit, this top-10 bet does stand out.