NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 Matchup Odds, Picks: Happy Harvick Over Happy Hour
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kurt Busch
- Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 has a 6 p.m. ET Green Flag, with Kyle Busch going off as the betting favorite.
- Nick Giffen analyzes two head-to-head driver matchups: Kyle Busch vs. Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch vs. Erik Jones.
Tonight’s 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6:00 p.m. ET, FOX) caps off an awesome triple header of racing, and features a couple of excellent head-to-head value bets.
With final practice occurring during the heat of the day but the majority of the race taking place in the cooler night-time weather, the market has overreacted to a few drivers who were fast in Happy Hour. This gives us a great fade opportunity for tonight’s race.
Certainly, practice times shouldn’t be our only guide, so track history and 1.5-mile performance in 2019 will also play a significant role in this analysis. Here’s how I’m rolling all of this together in my favorite head-to-head bets for Charlotte.
As always, if there are any Sunday props added at various books that catch my attention, I’ll add them as updates to this article.
A quick primer on the odds below: A $100 bet at +120 odds would profit $120, while a $150 wager at -150 odds would pay out $100.
Kurt Busch +120 over Erik Jones
Jones is my fade candidate for tonight’s race based off the market overreaction to his Happy Hour speed. Jones posted an impressive fifth-, third- and second-place time over 10, 15 and 20 laps in final practice. Those times pushed him into the seventh-shortest odds to win at the Westgate, which is also where I’m picking up this matchup.
However, his morning practice wasn’t as solid. He was only 11th-fastest over 10-consecutive laps. By contrast, Kurt Busch placed seventh over a 10-lap run in Saturday morning practice, over one-third of a mile per hour faster than Jones. That eases the concern of Busch’s 16th-place 10-lap showing during Happy Hour in the heat of the day.
Beyond just practice times, Busch should be the clear favorite based off 1.5-mile performance this year and track history. Busch has an average finish of 6.0 at the four 1.5-mile races this year, placing in the top-10 in all four races. His average green flag speed at 1.5-mile tracks ranks third among all drivers. Jones, on the other hand, ranks 12th in average green-flag speed and — although certainly impressive — has an average finish of 6.8.
Looking at Jones’ three-race Charlotte oval career, he has an an average finish of 14.3. Busch’s average finish is 12.0 over the same three races, and he finished ahead of Jones in two of those races.
Despite Busch’s dominance in the track factors, Jones’ Happy Hour can’t be totally ignored. But even when taking it into consideration, I’d make this matchup even-money at best, which is where I’m comfortable drawing the line betting on Busch.
Kevin Harvick +130 over Kyle Busch
Harvick has actually run better and finished better than Kyle Busch at 1.5-mile tracks so far in 2019, yet comes in as a +130 dog at the Westgate. Harvick’s average green-flag speed at 1.5-mile tracks ranks tops among all drivers, while Busch comes in second.
If we look at track history, Kyle Busch (3.0) and Harvick (4.3) are a near-wash in average finish in incident-free races during the low-downforce era of 2016-2018, with each having two major incidents during that five-race span. However, if we throw back to the higher-downforce era of the Gen-6 car, Kyle Busch has no finish better than fifth at Charlotte and an average of 10.0 in incident-free races, while Harvick has four finishes of second or first and an average finish of 3.5.
Turning our attention to practice, this Kyle Busch/Harvick matchups is in a similar boat as the Jones/Kurt Busch prop. Kyle Busch swept the top spot on the 10-plus lap board in Happy Hour. However, he was actually slower than Harvick over 10-consecutive laps during Saturday morning practice.
There’s enough here from all angles that I think Kyle Busch should only be a slight favorite. I’d bet Harvick down to +110.
- Denny Hamlin +115 over Clint Bowyer: Found this price over at DraftKings Sportsbook. Hamlin has the superior practice, recent track history, and 1.5-mile performance this year outside of Kansas. He should be favored.
- Over 8.5 cautions (-110): The two Coca-Cola 600s in the stage-racing era have had 11 and nine cautions. With three yellows guaranteed from stage breaks, we need only six more to hit the over. Only one Coca-Cola 600 since 2013 has had fewer than six cautions.