On Sunday, May 30, the NASCAR Cup Series drivers will head onto Charlotte Motor Speedway for a Crown Jewel race. They will compete in the Coca-Cola 600 while simultaneously honoring military members that gave their lives in the line of duty. There are several past winners in contention for the checkered flag, but Kyle Larson currently has the best odds.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver does not have a win at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but he has a strong history on the oval. He has made 11 starts during his career, posting one top-five finish and four top-10s. However, his previous success was with Chip Ganassi Racing and now he races for Hendrick Motorsports. Larson has been one of NASCAR’s best in 2021 while driving the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro, and he has an opportunity to continue this streak.
According to NASCAR, Martin Truex Jr., the only driver to win three races in 2021, currently has the second-best odds at 11-2. He sits just ahead of teammate Kyle Busch (13-2). Though Busch previously turned in a dominant performance during the 2018 Coca-Cola 600.
Larson Has No Victories at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Oval
Whether Larson capitalizes on these opportunities depends on a variety of factors. The first will be showing up with the best setup for practice and qualifying sessions. The second will be continuing to make critical adjustments during these early sessions to post a top time and start either on the pole or near the front of the pack.
Once the race begins, there are several other factors in play. The Coca-Cola 600 may take place under sunny skies at first, but the conditions change throughout 400 laps of action. The sun goes down, the lights come on, and the track temperatures cool. This significantly changes how the control of the car, so the teams will have to focus on making adjustments throughout the race.
As Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney explained to Heavy during a recent interview, simply having a fast car during practice is not enough to find success. The drivers and teams have to think ahead. He explained that the final 50 laps of the Coca-Cola 600 are the most crucial, so the teams have to have the best possible setup at this point in the race so they can push for the win.
A Former Cup Series Champion Will Try to Repeat at Charlotte
The last time the Cup Series headed to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600, Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski raced to Victory Lane. He held off the eventual 2020 Cup Series champion, Chase Elliott, to capture the Crown Jewel. Though Keselowski only led for 21 laps.
Now Keselowski will face decent odds overall as the Coca-Cola 600 approaches. He sits at 11-1, just behind Blaney (10-1). The two Team Penske teammates finished in the top three together in the 2020 race, adding to their respective points totals.
The Coca-Cola 600 takes place on Sunday, May 30, at 6 p.m. ET. The 400-lap race will cap off a special weekend of racing and will air on Fox. Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy, and Clint Bowyer will provide the call from the booth while Jamie Little and Regan Smith serve as pit reporters. Larry McReynolds will provide analysis from the Fox Sports studio.