Coca-Cola 600 Preview
May 25, 2013
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NASCAR gets back to its regular schedule after last week’s All-Star Race, staying in Concord, NC for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday afternoon. Charlotte Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile, intermediate track completed in 1959 in a quad-oval shape. Every turn has the same 24° banking and straightaways are nearly flat with 5° banking. The frontstretch measures 1,980 feet (.375 miles) while the backstretch is just 1,500 feet (.284 miles).
In the past 10 regular-season races at this track, there have been nine different winners, with Kasey Kahne, who won last year's Coca-Cola 600, being the only driver in this span to win twice. Clint Bowyer won the Bank of America 500 last October at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Drivers to Watch
Matt Kenseth (6/1) - As the champion of three of the past four intermediate races on the NASCAR circuit this season (Las Vegas, Kansas and Darlington), it's no wonder why Kenseth is getting such short odds. He's also enjoyed racing at Charlotte, capturing his second career win at this track in the 2011 fall race as part of seven career top-5 finishes. And in the past dozen Charlotte races where he's avoided a crash, Kenseth has never placed worse than 14th. The choice may be chalky, but Kenseth is our pick to take home the checkered flag on Sunday
Kasey Kahne (8/1) - Kahne was our pick to win last year's Coca-Cola 600 and he did just that with 10-to-1 odds. He is now in a great position to rack up his fifth career victory at Charlotte on Sunday, a track where he carries a 9.4 average finish since 2006 with top-8 finishes in 10 of the 14 starts during this span. He's also raced hard on intermediate tracks this season, most notably finishing second at both Las Vegas and Kansas. And last week, he performed admirably in the All-Star race with a fourth-place showing. His odds aren't great, but Kahne is still worthy of a small wager.
Clint Bowyer (15/1) - Last week's 18th-place finish after starting sixth and leading 11 laps was certainly disappointing. But Bowyer is receiving favorable enough odds to bank on him bouncing back and winning a second straight regular-season race at this venue. He may not have the best track record in Charlotte with just four top-10's in 14 starts (16.4 average finish), but Bowyer has tallied an outstanding four top-5's in his past eight races this season.
Ryan Newman (100/1) - Newman is certainly the best longshot on the board, especially considering he received 40-to-1 odds in this race last season. Although he's never won at this track, Newman has claimed an impressive nine Charlotte poles leading to a career 6.9 average start at this venue. He's been unlucky in failing to finish five career Charlotte races (3 engine failures, 2 crashes), the last two of which have ruined his pole position. And if you eliminate Newman's three non-finishes in 2013 (2 crashes, 1 engine failure), he has a quality average finish of 12.8 in his other eight starts. This includes a pair of top-10's at intermediate tracks (Texas and Darlington). These are enough reasons to drop a unit wager on Newman's triple-digit odds.
Joey Logano (35/1) - After finishing second at last week's All-Star race on this same track, Logano provides excellent value at his 35-to-1 odds. He has an impressive average finish of 10.1 with five top-10's in eight career regular-season starts in Charlotte, and Logano has even led a lap in three of these eight starts. Logano also enters the weekend with top-5 finishes in three of his past seven races, including a fifth-place showing at the intermediate track at Fort Worth.