U.S. Markets close in 4 hrs 17 mins

Fantasy Live: Coke 600

Dan Beaver
Wrap-up of the CUP series race at Sonoma (CA) Raceway and the Trucks at Gateway in Madison, IL. (Getty Images)

Drivers have spent a lot of time on the 1.5-mile tracks in the past two weeks. The Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway was the fourth race on this course type this year and it was followed by the All-Star event last week. The aero package used in the exhibition race was different than the one used in the points event, but track time is valuable nonetheless.

Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Coke 600 has a personality of its own, however. With the teams largely located in this area, everyone wants to run well – but it is even more than that. This track is iconic in its own right and the Coke 600 is one of the most coveted trophies in the sport.

The race can be full of surprises, however. Kyle Busch’s victory in last year’s edition of this race was his first on the track. Before the year was over, he had the distinction of winning on every Cup track on which he’d competed – until, of course, the Roval came into play. Austin Dillon rolled the dice in 2017 and won on fuel mileage to show that anything goes in this race.

Still, this is a track made for marquee teams, so don’t gamble too much.

Bear in mind that this week there are four equal segments to the Coke 600. Only the first two will award Segment Points, but the garage will not lock until the end of Segment 3.

Martin Truex Jr.
Truex has not finished worse than third in his last three starts at Charlotte. Six of his last seven attempts have ended in top-fives with two victories to his credit. One of these came in the 2016 Coke 600; the other was in the 2017 Bank of America 500. With full support from JGR this week, his set should be at should be just as good as with Furniture Row and we’ll come close to guaranteeing a top-five.

Denny Hamlin
Hamlin has been nearly as strong recently at Charlotte as Truex. They are the only two drivers with a current streak of three top-fives. Hamlin has five top-fives in the last six races and seven top-10s. He’s more consistent overall. Since 2011, Hamlin has finished outside the top 10 only twice and that is about as good a streak as one will find.

Kevin Harvick
Harvick has run into trouble at Charlotte twice recently. He blew an engine in 2016 and crashed out of last year’s Coke 600. He finished 16th in the 2012 Bank of America 500, but those are the only times in his last 16 attempts that he failed to crack the top 10. Harvick showed an immediate affinity for this track with a second-place finish in his inaugural Coke 600; he finished eighth that fall, but then had some difficult for the next eight years. Once he won the 2011 Coke 600, there was no looking back and his long streak of success began.

Kyle Larson
It wasn’t a points paying race, but Larson’s win last week in the All-Star event will give him additional momentum to go along with the third-place finish earned in the Gander 400 at Dover International Speedway and his eighth at Kansas in the Digital Ally 400. His improvement is sustainable and yet a lot of players have difficulty jumping on a bandwagon that is just forming. If you had him on your roster last week, hang onto him for Charlotte.

Clint Bowyer
Never underestimate the power of emotion. After getting into a physical altercation with Ryan Newman last week in the All-Star Race, Bowyer is pumped and ready to further make his point on the track. Last year was not particularly good for the No. 14 team on the 1.5-mile tracks. Bowyer scored two top-fives and another pair of top-10s in 11 starts. This year, he has three top-fives in four starts. One of these was a second-place finish to Hamlin at Texas.

Value Pick

Kurt Busch
Busch’s seventh-place finish last week at Kansas was the sixth consecutive time on a 1.5-miler that Busch finished in the top 10. Busch is known for consistency instead of raw power on this track type, however, and he can often fly under the radar. As of the writing of this post, he is on 26 percent of the rosters; seven drivers are more popular. That means you can use him as a solid differentiator and turn to him if one of your marquee picks stumbles.

Garage Pick

Aric Almirola
Almirola was high on our list last week at Kansas because he had an eight-race top-10 streak on 1.5-milers. He finished 12th in the Digital Ally 400 and really did not look all that sharp, but one can be forgiven for a single bad race – if a 12th can be called bad. It makes Almirola a good consistent pick if Harvick, Truex, or Kyle Busch crash sometime during the event.

Red Flag

Joey Logano
As strong as he’s been this year overall, Logano has not finished particularly well on the 1.5-milers. Yes, he won at Vegas, but he finished 15th or worse in the other three races. Perhaps the team is experimenting after scoring the Pennzoil 400 victory that has them practically locked in the field or they may legitimately be struggling. Either way, we are going to wait and see what happens at Charlotte before giving them a shot on the next track on this type of course.

 

Segment wins and points at Charlotte
(8 segments to date)

Driver

Segment
Points

Segments
earning
points

Segment
Wins

Kyle Busch

62

7

4

Martin Truex Jr.

52

7

1

Denny Hamlin

36

7

1

Kyle Larson

34

6

 

Matt Kenseth

34

5

 

Kevin Harvick

32

4

2

Jimmie Johnson

29

6

 

Kurt Busch

29

6

 

Chase Elliott

22

3

 

Jamie McMurray

21

5

 

Erik Jones

20

5

 

Ryan Blaney

15

3

 

Clint Bowyer

13

3

 

Aric Almirola

10

2

 

Brad Keselowski

8

1

 

Austin Dillon

5

2

 

Daniel Suarez

5

2

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

4

2

 

Kasey Kahne

4

1

 

Ryan Newman

3

2

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

2

1