NASCAR Props Challenge Picks for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: The crew of NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch
- NASCAR's Props Challenge game asks fans to answer 10 prop-betting questions each week, with weekly winners eligible for prizes.
- PJ Walsh offers his Props Challenge picks and analysis for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX) at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Sunday is the best day of the year in motorsports, with F1’s Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 back-to-back-to-back.
I’ve spent many Memorial Day weekends at Charlotte Motor Speedway throughout the years, so this race has provided many great memories. While I don’t get to attend as often as I used to, it’s still an event I very much look forward to.
And after a couple of very fun races, I’m excited to see how this plays out. Without further ado, here are my NASCAR Props Challenge picks for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.
1. Will Alex Bowman be the highest finishing Hendrick driver?
I didn’t need to look up any stats before answering “no,” but here’s some data just in case.
Excluding Atlanta Motor Speedway due to its excessive tire wear, there have been three races run at 1.5-mile racetracks this season: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway. In those three races, Bowman’s average running position of 13.3 is the worst of the four Hendrick drivers.
2. Three of the last five Coca-Cola 600 winners have won from the pole? Will Sunday’s winner start from the front row?
Through 12 races this season, not a single race winner started on the front row. Considering this year’s aero package is dramatically different from those run in recent years, this is another easy “no” for me.
3. O/U 52.5 points for Kyle Busch
Since NASCAR introduced stage racing, 2.5 drivers have averaged more than 52.5 points in the Coca-Cola 600. I really want to take the over for Busch here, but that’s too much to ask in a race that’s so hard on equipment.
4. With a third stage added in Sunday’s race, which driver will finish higher in more stages? Martin Truex Jr. or Kevin Harvick?
Surprisingly, this question is easy to answer when looking at the data from this season. At Las Vegas, Texas and Kansas, Harvick ranks first in average running position (7.7), laps led (192) and fast laps (122).
Truex ranks 14th in average run position (13.7), 16th in laps led (10) and 14th in fast laps (24). His name makes this seem closer, but Harvick has been the better driver on these types of tracks this season … by far.
5. A Ford driver has not won the Coca-Cola 600 since Mark Martin in 2002. Will a Ford driver win on Sunday?
A Ford driver has won three of the four races run at 1.5-mile racetracks this season, so it seems like “yes” is the way to go.
However, according to betting odds from the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, there are 11 drivers with odds of 20-1 or better to win the Coca-Cola 600.
Five of those 11 drive Fords. This is really close, but I’ll take the field over Ford.
6. O/U 1.5 drivers lead 125 laps
This question is tough because there has been very little passing for the lead in the Coca-Cola 600 in recent years, yet the new aero package should hopefully promote more lead changes, especially when the sun goes down.
While I don’t expect one driver to simply run away with this race, I’m going to lean on the historical leader trends here until the new package proves me otherwise.
7. Which driver will finish higher? Erik Jones or Kyle Larson?
Larson’s perception is being skewed due to his All-Star Race win last week at Charlotte, where he rode a huge push from Harvick to the lead, then hung on for the victory.
But when you look at the data, Larson has really struggled at this track type, highlighted by an average running position of just 19.0 with zero (!) laps led. On the other hand, Jones checks in with an average run position of 12.0 and top-15 finishes in all three races.
8. O/U 14.5 lead lap finishers
This is nothing more than a gut pick, but I’m taking the over.
I think this aero package will keep the field closer together, allowing more cars to finish on the lead lap.
9. Will a driver win multiple stages?
Once again, there’s just so little data that I have to lean on my gut here. While recent Coke 600’s have seen one driver dominate, expecting someone to win two stages is a little too rich for my blood.
10. O/U 7.5 different leaders
This is counterintuitive considering my answer to Question No. 6, but based on what we saw at Kansas, I think we’ll see some lead changes once the track cools off at night.
That race was just 400 miles and finished with 12 different leaders, so it should be pretty easy for Sunday’s 600-mile race to reach at least eight.