As has been the case with pretty much every Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this season, we had some craziness at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. First, Kevin Harvick wasn’t able to get through inspection during qualifying and will have to start from back in 39th on Sunday night, and then the first practice session got rained out on Saturday morning. That means there was only one practice for these teams in race trim, and that was ran from 11am to noon on Saturday. We race at 6pm on Sunday night, so how relevant those speeds are going to be is up for debate. Also, it’s the Coca-Cola 600 race weekend, which is the longest race on the Cup Series schedule. And because of its length, the track goes through a bunch of changes during the event, with cars that were good at the beginning fading by the end, and vice versa.
Kyle Busch is on the pole for Sunday’s big race with Joey Logano starting alongside. The full starting lineup for Sunday night’s race at Charlotte can be found by clicking here. As mentioned before, there was just one post-qualifying practice this weekend, and you can see those results here: Happy Hour. I’d highly recommend you read our in-depth notes from that session as well, simply because there isn’t a lot of speed data. You can do so here: Happy Hour.
Final Top 25 Rankings for Charlotte
1. Joey Logano – Starts 2nd – DraftKings Price: $10,000 – FanDuel Price: $11,900
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
It’s been a while since Joey Logano has had a good race here at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Over the last three races here, Joey hasn’t been able to finish better than 21st, and over the last six events at this track, he has just one top 5 finish. The good news? That lone top 5 finish was a win here back in the fall 2015 race, and he’s poised to have another great run here in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 as well. Logano has been very solid on the 1.5-mile tracks this season, and even has the best percent of laps ran inside the top 15 on this track length (excluding Atlanta) at 99.53%. Yes, that’s even better than Kevin Harvick (who’s at 97%). Overall, Joey’s average finish is right around 5th on the 1.5-milers this season, and there’s no reason to think he won’t end up around there on Sunday as well. The #22 team did something different this weekend, and that was to focus more on qualifying trim during the first practice session. That paid dividends on Thursday when Logano ended up 2nd in qualifying. As far as the Happy Hour practice, the #22 Ford ended up 4th-fastest on that chart with the 5th-best ten-lap average. Logano should run up front all night on Sunday and honestly it wouldn’t be that surprising to see him lead for a while, either.
2. Kyle Larson – Starts 11th – DraftKings Price: $10,600 – FanDuel Price: $10,800
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
Overall, Kyle Larson’s track record here at Charlotte Motor Speedway is pretty hit or miss, and the same can be said about his performance on the 1.5-mile tracks this season. The good news for Larson fans is that he’s coming off of that near-win at Kansas, and the #42 Chevrolet looks pretty stout here at Charlotte this weekend as well; in Saturday’s lone practice session, Larson ended up 2nd-fastest overall with the 2nd-best ten-lap average as well. Looking at the last three races at this track, Larson has posted finishes of 10th, 33rd, and 5th, and in nine career starts here he has posted three total top 10s with an overall average finish of 18.7. Something worth noting, though, is Larson’s Coca-Cola 600 record: his best finish in this race is 13th, and his average finish in four career Coca 600 starts is 22.3. As we all know, though, Kyle is capable of getting to victory lane with pretty much anything with wheels on it, so it’s probably not the best idea to let that statistic hang you up too much this weekend.
3. Denny Hamlin – Starts 3rd – DraftKings Price: $9,200 – FanDuel Price: $11,200
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
Despite not having a victory here at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Denny Hamlin is pretty solid at this race track; over the course of 25 career starts here, Hamlin has posted eight top 5 finishes (32%) along with sixteen total top 10 results (64%). Overall, his average finish is 12.4, and that’s good enough for 3rd-best among active drivers. The two ahead of him? Daniel Suarez (8.5) and Erik Jones (12.0), who both only have two career starts here. As far as the 1.5-mile tracks go this season, Hamlin has shown top 5 potential throughout the year but has really only gotten good finishes at Atlanta and Kansas. The good news? Those results were 4th and 5th, respectively. Hamlin finished 5th and 4th in the two races here at Charlotte last season and has ended up inside the top 5 in four of his last five starts at this track. He’s definitely on course to make it five of the last six on Sunday night. The #11 Toyota was 5th-fastest in Happy Hour on Saturday with the 3rd-best ten-lap average. It might be a little out of left field but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Denny Hamlin takes a serious swing at the Coca-Cola 600 trophy on Sunday night.