1) Kyle Busch (Starting – 1st)
Charlotte Fantasy Spin – Kyle Busch will be the favorite to win at Charlotte. He’s starting from the pole and 2 of the last 4 Coca Cola 600’s have been won from that starting position. Busch has never won a points paying race here, but he’s performed at an extremely high-level. This year at 1.5 mile tracks which correlate to success he’s been elite. Over the four combined races at tracks of this length he has a 5.0 average finish, a 5.5 average running position and is the only driver not named Kevin Harvick to have won. In Happy Hour, Busch had the best 20 lap average and the 6th best 15 lap average. On Sunday night look for Kyle Busch to finish in the top five and be a serious threat to win.
Charlotte Track History – Charlotte has been a great track for Kyle Busch. He’s never won here, but he’s been in contention to win multiple races. Since October 2007 he’s finished in the top eleven 76% percent of the time. Last fall Busch was a top five contender but finished an asterisk 29th after having multiple problems. His first problem happened on lap 137 when he spun from 2nd. In Stage #1 prior to his problem he finished 5th. Last spring Kyle Busch ranked as one of the strongest performers. When the checkered flag waved he finished 2nd, earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position and led 63 laps. Additionally he won Stage #1, finished 4th in Stage #2 and finished 2nd in Stage 3. In fall 2016 Busch had a good car. He earned the 3rd best driver rating and finished 6th. What makes his performance a little more impressive is that his race wasn’t incident free. Around lap 90 while he was running in the top five he made an unexpected pit stop under green that dropped him a lap down. In spring 2016 he was top ten good but with 7 laps to go while he was running in 10th he got into the wall hard which led to his misleading 33rd place finish.
DraftKings $11,100 / FanDuel $11,700
2) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 39th)
Charlotte Fantasy Spin – Kevin Harvick will start 39th on Sunday night, but don’t count him out. He’s a phenomenal performer at Charlotte and he has 600 miles to race his way to the front. By the end of the first segment he’ll probably be within striking distance. This year at 1.5 mile tracks nobody has been better than Harvick. Over the four combined races at tracks of this length he’s finished in the top 2 every race, has 3 wins, the best driver rating by a wide margin, a 3.5 average running position and has led 561 laps. In Happy Hour Harvick had the 7th best ten lap average and the 4th best 15 lap average. On Sunday night look for Harvick to finish in the top five and compete for the win despite his starting deficiency.
Charlotte Track History – Kevin Harvick has performed at a super-elite level at Charlotte. He’s a three-time winner who’s finished in the top ten in 9 of the last 10 races. Over that stretch minus fall 2016 (engine) he has a 6.4 average finish and a 5.9 average running position. Last year Harvick was very competitive in both races. Last fall he won Stage #1, won Stage #2, earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position, led a race high 149 laps and finished 6th. I will note his result is misleading. With 10 laps to go he had a slow pit stop that dropped him from 2nd to 6th. Last spring Harvick had a great performance. He finished 8th, earned the 4th best driver rating and led 45 laps. His finish is more impressive when you take into account on lap 124 while he was running in the top five he made an unexpected pit stop. In fall 2016 Harvick had a strong car but finished 38th after having engine problems while running in 4th on lap 156. In spring 2016 he finished 2nd and had a 4th place average running position. In the six races prior to that he swept the top ten and had results of 2nd, 9th, 1st, 2nd, 6th and 1st.
DraftKings $12,200 / FanDuel $13,500
Further Recommended Reading: Charlotte Post Practice Predictions (another fantasy take), Speed Cheat Sheet, Happy Hour Notes, Happy Hour Speeds, Likely Finish Ranges, DraftKings Playability Value Chart, FanDuel Playability Value Chart
3) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 15th)
Charlotte Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. will be a factor at Charlotte. He’s the most recent Charlotte winner and over the last six races he’s been top five good, “Performance Wise.” On Sunday night Truex Jr. is starting 15th, but that shouldn’t be a problem. When he won here last fall he started further back in 17th. This year he hasn’t been as strong at 1.5 mile tracks but he still ranks among the best. At tracks of this length minus Texas (wrecked) he’s finished in the top five every race and has a 3.7 average finish. In Happy Hour, Truex Jr. had the 8th best ten lap average and the 3rd best 15 lap average. On Sunday look for Truex Jr. to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Charlotte Track History – Martin Truex Jr. has been a phenomenal performer at Charlotte and in 5 of the last 6 races he’s finished in the top five. Over that six race stretch he has the best driver rating, a 4.3 average finish, a 5.0 average running position and has led 847 laps. Last fall Truex Jr. had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. Additionally he earned the 2nd best driver rating and led 91 laps. In last years Coca Cola 600 nobody was better than Truex Jr. He was the class of the field but lost the race on fuel mileage. When the checkered flag waved he finished 3rd, earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position and led 233 laps. In fall 2016 Truex Jr. was a top five contender but finished a misleading 13th. During the final round of pit stops he had a slow stop that dropped him from 3rd to 16th. In the 2016 Coca Cola 600 he put on a display of domination. He started on the pole, earned a perfect driver rating and led a record 392 laps.
DraftKings $10,700 / FanDuel $12,500