Race: Coca Cola 600 Predictions
Date: Sunday May 29, 2016
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Time: 6 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Joey Logano came out on top with Penske power to win the All-Star this past weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jimmie Johnson ended up trying to out-strategize the rest of the field and lay back to get better position going into the last segment, but that strategy ended up failing him in the end with a 12th place finish. Logano's teammate, Keselowski came in second with Dale Jr., Carl Edwards, and Kurt Busch rounding out the top five. Regardless, the Showdown and All-Star put on a good show for the fans, and the drivers got some good information coming into a huge race this Memorial Day weekend.
Charlotte Motor Speedway, located in Concord, North Carolina, is essentially in the hub of NASCAR. This place runs deep with history, opening its gates in 1960. This track hosts a myriad of events including stock cars, drag cars, sprint cars, and many more. It is a typical 1.5-mile asphalt quad-oval with 24 degree banking in the turns and 5 degrees on the straights. The track was originally repaved in 1994. In 2005, track officials diamond grinded the surface to reduce the bumpiness of the track. If you remember back to both Charlotte races that year, you will remember some serious tire wear problems and a lot of angry drivers. The track was completely repaved in 2006.
Tire wear is still on the plate as far as strategy here. The track doesn't destroy the tires, but drivers tend to have long green flag runs, wearing right sides down and causing catastrophic failures in some cases. If the drivers can survive tire wear problems, they will have to come up with some killer fuel strategy tips. This is the longest race of the season, with the drivers running a full 400 laps at this 1.5-mile track. Carl Edwards won on a serious strategy gamble last year. That's one of the things that makes this race a little more unpredictable than the other intermediate tracks.
It's interesting to have the All-Star race and then pick the winner for this weekend's race. Although Logano won on Saturday night, the car setup and package is much different this weekend. That being said, Logano is certainly one to watch, but I think that we have to seriously consider this year's contenders on the intermediate tracks. The best drivers have undoubtedly been Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson who have managed four wins between themselves on those types of tracks this year. I think that Penske horsepower will give a good run, but I'm sticking with my All-Star pick of Kyle Busch for this weekend. Busch got his first win at Kansas this weekend. Charlotte and Pocono are the last two elusive tracks that he doesn't' have a win at. With 10 top 5 finishes here and countless wins in both the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series, he's due. Logano is the defending winner of the Fall race and the All-Star, but I'm just not sure if he's got what it takes to make the full 600 miles work here quite yet. Let's take a look at your potential winners this weekend heading into Charlotte:
My Pick to Win: Kyle Busch
Middle of the Road Pick: Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse Prediction: Chase Elliot. Bet YOUR Coca Cola 600 picks and get a 50% welcome bonus on your first deposit at TopBet!
Again, the down force package is different this year altogether at Charlotte than it was last year and even tweaked since last weekend's All-Star race. That being said, the veterans are likely going to have the run of the field understanding the aero components of this track a little better than the rookies. Chase Elliot has that on his side, with a solid understanding for a rookie of down force thanks to his dad. Truex Jr. has a pretty good run going on the intermediates so far this year. He's looking to better his standings and finishes this weekend at Charlotte. Overall, Busch is looking for his first win here and will likely overcome the 600 mile endurance race better than most.
Here are your current top 16 after last week's race:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Kyle Busch
3. Kurt Busch
4. Carl Edwards
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Brad Keselowski
7. Chase Elliot
8. Joey Logano
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Austin Dillon
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
12. Matt Kenseth
13. Denny Hamlin
14. Jamie McMurray
15. Ryan Blaney
16. AJ Allmendinger
Kyle Busch is quietly closing in on Kevin Harvick. He's looking to take that top spot away. The standings are shaping into a good indicator of these drivers' performances, actually. I'm not surprised by any of this. Guys like Earnhardt and Hamlin have been struggling lately. McMurray is sitting right about where we expect him to. Chase Elliot has been steadily trudging forward, and rightfully so, as he seems to be coming into his own and gaining more confidence with each race. Stay tuned this weekend as we head to Charlotte for the longest race of the season and a tribute to our service men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Charlotte is always a patriotic race and one that represents this holiday very well. Another great place to bet on the Coca Cola 600 is 5Dimes Sportsbook. They offer tons of props and generally speaking, their odds are better priced than their competitors!
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