The Setup – Coca-Cola 600
By Tyler Miller

The NASCAR Cup Series will race 600 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday night. This will be the third race for the Cup Series in an 8 day span. While fans will not be in attendance, this race will feature a qualifying session Sunday afternoon. There will not be any practice, so information will be limited to qualifying position and prior track history. Let’s get started.

Race Distance: 400 laps (600 miles) Due to the extended race length, this race has 4 stages. Stage 1 ends on lap 100, Stage 2 ends on lap 200, and Stage 3 ends on lap 300.

Lineup Lock 6:00 pm eastern Sunday
2019 Winner Martin Truex Jr. (Started 14th)
2019 Pole Sitter William Byron (Finished 9th)

Past Winners: (Starting Position)
2018: Kyle Busch (1st)
2017 Spring: Austin Dillon (22nd)
2017 Fall: Martin Truex Jr. (17th)
2016 Spring: Martin Truex Jr. 1st)
2016 Fall: Jimmie Johnson (11th)
2015 Spring: Carl Edwards (3rd)
2015 Fall: Joey Logano (3rd)
* Prior to 2017 the Cup Series raced on the oval at Charlotte twice a year. Starting in 2018 the fall date was moved to the ROVAL. Spring races were 600 miles, fall races were 500 miles.

Darlington Recap
What went right?

Overall, there was a lot that went right on Wednesday night in Darlington. Kyle Busch was my top play overall and he scored the most fantasy points. Kevin Harvick was my 2nd top end pick and he scored the 4th most fantasy points (on Fan Duel) finishing 3rd. Chase Elliott was running second until he was wrecked by Kyle Busch at the end of the race, so that didn’t work out, but I think it was a good play because of the low ownership. My top mid-tier plays were Jimmie Johnson and William Byron, they were 3rd and 6th in Fan Duel scoring. My lineup ended up being Kyle Busch, Stenhouse, Johnson, Truex, and Byron which scored 301.5 and cashed in every contest I entered.

What went wrong?
The Draft Kings side of things went wrong for me on Wednesday night. Due to pricing differences I couldn’t afford to play Kyle Busch or Martin Truex Jr. with the mid-tier guys that I wanted and I just didn’t score enough points. I played Bowman, Johnson, Byron, Buescher, Stenhouse, and LaJoie. That lineup scored 240 on DK and I had mixed results, cashing in some contests but losing overall.

What to watch for in qualifying/Things to think about:
This is uncharted territory for the Cup Series to hold a qualifying session 4 hours before a race with no practice. My advice is to have a short list of guys you are looking at prior to qualifying. I would let qualifying nudge you in a direction rather than completely change course based on qualifying position. This is a 600 mile race, a lot can happen from start to finish. I would focus on guys with a strong history in the 600 and mid-tier/value plays that have a track record of completing all the laps and staying out of trouble.

Give some consideration to fitness and conditioning. Running a 600 mile race to cap 3 races in 8 days is no joke. I worry about the conditioning of guys like Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman. Keselowski has noticeably gained some weight over the last several months and Ryan Newman has limited in-car conditioning this season after his wreck at Daytona. I don’t worry about Matt Kenseth though, Kenseth is in excellent shape and his history at this track puts him on my short list before the weekend starts.

What Vegas thinks (Opening lines via Penn National Gaming)

Kyle Busch is the favorite at 4-1 this weekend. Overall there are 6 drivers with odds inside of 10-1. For some reason, Alex Bowman dropped to 16-1. If I were to put some money down, Bowman would be my pick, he’s been outstanding on 1.5 mile tracks since the middle of last year.

Kyle Busch 4-1
Kevin Harvick 11-2
Martin Truex Jr. 6-1
Brad Keselowski 8-1
Joey Logano 8-1
Chase Elliott 9-1
Denny Hamlin 11-1
Alex Bowman 16-1
Jimmie Johnson 16-1
William Byron 20-1

Driver Ratings Charlotte:
1. Jimmie Johnson 108.9
2. Kyle Busch 107.4
3. Denny Hamlin 97.0
4. Matt Kenseth 94.8
5. Martin Truex Jr. 91.3
6. Kevin Harvick 90.0
7. Chase Elliott 89.5
8. Joey Logano 88.7
9. Kurt Busch 87.8
10. Brad Keselowski 87.2
11. Ryan Blaney 81.1
12. Austin Dillon 78.8
13. Daniel Suarez 78.8
14. Clint Bowyer 78.1
15. Ryan Newman 77.8

Average Running Position:
1. Jimmie Johnson 8.191
2. Kyle Busch 9.574
3. Denny Hamlin 10.981
4. Martin Truex Jr. 13.209
5. Matt Kenseth 13.472
6. Joey Logano 13.934
7. Brad Keselowski 14.166
8. Kurt Busch 14.601
9. Chase Elliott 14.798
10. Kevin Harvick 14.958
11. Ryan Blaney 15.843
12. Daniel Suarez 15.943
13. Austin Dillon 16.458
14. Ryan Newman 17.291
15. Aric Almirola 17.454

Laps Led
1. Kyle Busch 1449 (14.2% of all laps run)
2. Jimmie Johnson 1094 (10.8)
3. Martin Truex Jr. 972 (9.9)
4. Kurt Busch 572 (5.6)
5. Kevin Harvick 540 (5.3)
6. Matt Kenseth 537 (5.5)
7. Denny Hamlin 377 (3.9)
8. Brad Keselowski 295 (4.2)
9. Joey Logano 263 (3.6)
10. Chase Elliott 158 (5.9)
11. Ryan Newman 141 (1.4)
12. Clint Bowyer 119 (1.3)

2019 Top 10
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Joey Logano
3. Kyle Busch
4. Chase Elliott
5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
6. Chris Buescher
7. Alex Bowman
8. Jimmie Johnson
9. William Byron
10. Kevin Harvick

2018 Top 10
1. Kyle Busch
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Brad Keselowski
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Jamie McMurray
7. Kyle Larson
8. Kurt Busch
9. Alex Bowman
10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

2017 Fall Top 10
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Chase Elliott
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Jamie McMurray
6. Daniel Suarez
7. Jimmie Johnson
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Kasey Kahne
10. Kyle Larson

2017 Spring Top 10
1. Austin Dillon
2. Kyle Busch
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Kurt Busch
7. Erik Jones
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Ryan Newman
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Stay Tuned for Victory Lane following qualifying on Sunday.

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