One of the Crown Jewels of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, the Coca-Cola 600 is set for Sunday, May 26th. Charlotte Motor Speedway, the home of NASCAR, is the customary host of the Coke 600 and from what we’ve seen in the Next Gen car at intermediate tracks we should be in for a show. Sunday night’s race will be the night cap for the best day of racing following the F1 Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500 earlier in the day. What is the weather forecast for Charlotte, NC this weekend? What effect can the weather have on the race? How are we looking at NASCAR DFS trends and strategy this weekend for the Coke 600? How are we building lineups for the longest race in NASCAR? All of that plus our top driver picks for the Coke 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Weather Forecast For Charlotte, North Carolina

The forecast for the Charlotte, NC area and thus Charlotte Motor Speedway has gotten better as the week has gone on. We’re now down to isolated storms Sunday evening and a smaller chance than before. It doesn’t look like a complete postponement is in the making but we may see a delay some point in the race. The only thing to watch out for is if the rain comes after the second stage and the window isn’t there to complete the race they may call it as a rain-shortened race, but that’s a small possibility.

Coke 600 Race History and Trends

This is the longest race on the NASCAR schedule. It’s also the only race with four stages on the schedule. So keep that in mind when we’re looking at trends and race history including the number of cautions on average and caution laps.

As we look below at the table there are a few things that stick out about it, firstly is that in all five of the previous Coke 600s we see one driver that has led 100 or more laps, but not more than one driver. The laps led from the top-10 starting spots is also interesting as it shows at just 58-percent. However, if we take out the 2022 odd ball of just 74 laps from the top-10 starters, we get more like 68-percent of laps led from the first five grid rows. In two of the races 350+ laps were led from the drivers starting at or near the front of the grid.

Moving to how drivers move up through the field in these races, it’s a mixed bag. We’ve seen an average of 11 drivers a race move up at least six spots but nearly six drivers a race moving up double-digit spots. That’s encouraging for us focusing on drivers throughout the field when targeting position differential. The issue arises when looking at Lead Lap Finishers where just about half the field on average finish on the lead lap. That means that we do have to worry about drivers being lapped and capping their PD upside. We also see drivers being able to finish in the top-10 while starting outside P12 which also speaks to being able to move up and nab good finishing position points.

Positive Place Differential192123192321
Six+ Place Differential Spots10136121411
Double-Digit Place Differential7102555.8
Double-Digit Fast Laps109101189.6
20+ Laps Led552664.8
50+ Laps Led231332.4
100+ Laps Led111111
Lead Lap Finishers251614201718.4
Top-10 Finishers Start>P124443438%
Laps Led From Top-103527437423213158%

DraftKings Scoring Trends For Charlotte

The following chart shows the average DraftKings points scored by starting spot over the last five Coca-Cola-600s. It doesn’t take into account who started there or why and only the points scored. It is designed to show the strategy in play at the track rather than hard-and-fast rules to follow for guaranteed points.

FanDuel Scoring Trends For Charlotte

The following chart shows the average FanDuel points scored by starting spot over the last five Coca-Cola-600s. It doesn’t take into account who started there or why and only the points scored. It is designed to show the strategy in play at the track rather than hard-and-fast rules to follow for guaranteed points.

NASCAR Coke 600 Practice and Qualifying Results

These will be up Sunday morning.

NASCAR DFS Strategy For Coke 600

So with everything we see above, how are we building lineups for DraftKings and Fanduel contests this week?

This is one of those rare races where we’re going to build in pretty similar ways on both sites as with this many laps in the race, dominator points are a factor on both sites. The average points scored across the field over the last five races on Fandulel were 59.16 while on DraftKings it’s 29.81. However, both sites saw at least seven spots n the grid post scores at least 10 points higher than that. That should point out it’s one of, if not, the highest scoring race of the season for DFS.

In my view, we can build cash and GPP builds pretty similarly this week as well with how the laps led have typically born out and the position differential has played out as well. The only real difference is just how much risk in the driver you want to put into the build in terms of track history, recent performance, and practice to qualifying difference.

Favorite Driver Picks

Top Salary Tier

Kyle Larson (Starting P10)

Larson rolls off P10, but honestly, he should’ve qualified much better. In his qualifying effort in the second round, he got loose coming out of turn four and ends up starting P10. If he had run a clean lap, he likely starts in the top four. The big question surrounding Larson is, of course, going to be fatigue. And there are some concerns that he could be late getting to Charlotte for this race. However, I’m sure NASCAR will do what they can to make sure Larson runs the full race. But overall, we know the performance on the comparable tracks has been there for him this year. Additionally, his practice speeds were pretty elite. Assuming he’s good to go for the full race, he offers a little PD and dominator potential later in the race. Update: Adding a note on this to be mindful of the weather for Indianapolis. The Indy 500 is anticipating heavy rain and the potential of a lengthy delay. If he's in contention at Indy it sounds like he'll wait it out and miss this race. Justin Allgaier would be the backup driver and Larson would earn zero points.

William Byron (Starting P2)

I’m not saying he’s a huge leverage play, but I think most look to pay up for Hamlin over Byron, but if I’m wrong, so be it. Hamlin offers more PD and it’s well documented how fast the Toyotas have been on intermediates. And it’s not like Hamlin had a poor qualifying effort. He just barely missed out on cracking the top five in his qualifying group. But Byron spun his car in qualifying and there were some unknowns about the car heading into qualifying. However, the car looked perfectly fine as he qualified on the front row. There’s certainly win equity and dominator potential if he can get around Ty Gibbs. Even if he can’t, that doesn’t mean he can’t get out front later on in the race.

Martin Truex Jr. (Starting P4)

We’re a little bias after jumping on him to win at +1100. But don’t forget, at Kansas, Truex was running down Larson and Buescher in the final laps. It’s largely forgotten because Larson edged Buescher out by 0.001 seconds and it was all we could talk about in the days that followed. But MTJ’s car did get better as the race progressed and it’s possible his car gets better as the evening track conditions cool off. He’s won this race before and he’s led 100+ laps here numerous times. As long as he stays clean, and his pit crew doesn’t screw him over, he shapes up as a very strong secondary dominator option as he flashed top five speed in practice.


Mid Salary Tier

Brad Keselowski (Starting P30)

Keselowski seemed a little baffled by the difficulty in driving his car in practice and backed it up with a poor qualifying effort. He’s fresh off a win on a more difficult track two weeks ago so I’m of the mindset he still has a top 10 in him. Sure, he’ll be popular starting this deep in the field. He seems like he has tapped into some extra horsepower. His former teammate, Joey Logano, really did not like his car. I won’t highlight Logano but he’ll make the driver pool below purely because of the position differential. But he noted the team has a lot of work to do because the car was “undrivable” as he put it. But we’ve seen the RFK cars make necessary adjustments and they’ve led the charge for the Fords of late. Keselowski is a former winner here and there are enough laps in this race for him to move up.

Chris Buescher (Starting P39)

This one is easy. Buescher starts P39 and offers a ton of position differential. He’s a cash game lock. He’s affordable and offering PD. Just plug him in and join the chalk parade. For tournaments, this is not an “all in” recommendation because it’s a 400-lap race. Anything can happen to anybody. It may not be such a bad idea to gain some leverage and be a bit underweight while still having about 30% exposure to him. But after wrecking the car in practice, he was unable to post a qualifying lap and he’ll go to a backup car. Don’t forget he’s just a few weeks removed from barely losing to Kyle Larson and then he was in contention at Darlington before Tyler Reddick wrecked him.

Ty Gibbs (Starting P1)

He will be popular. But so what? I have a ticket on him to win outright and I’m ecstatic. His qualifying lap to win the pole was far and away better than the field. Even if Larson ran a clean lap, I think Gibbs would’ve still blown him away. He’s won here in the Xfinity Series and we know he’s been knocking on the door for a win. If he can go out and get dominator points in stage one, we just need a good finish from him to score well. He did finish second at Darlington a couple weeks ago so perhaps the win is coming soon.


Value Salary Tier

Noah Gragson (Starting P19)

He’s not super cheap, but there’s upside here. He did finish top 10 at Vegas and Kansas and Malin included him in the betting article as a longshot to win at +6600. He ran Saturday’s Xfinity Series race for Rette Jones Racing. There were some unknowns about the quality of the equipment, but Gragson still drove it to a top 10 finish, and he even had that car running top five at times. It’s entirely possible he just loves this track, but we can also find comfort in the fact he ran well at both Vegas and Kansas where he finished top 10. Both Gragson and Chase Briscoe are similar plays. They start close to each other and are priced similarly. For Sunday night’s action we give a slight edge to Gragson.

Erik Jones (Starting P34)

Jones is probably a safe cash game play. I hate assuming he’s a safe play though. He did finish 14th at Vegas earlier this year and he finished 19th at Darlington a couple weeks ago. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t see him race at Kansas, but all in all, he should easily move up from this P34 starting spot. I don’t love going overboard in terms of exposure in this range. Yes, the Toyotas should be strong Sunday night, but we also know that Legacy Motor Club is not the primary nor the secondary Toyota team. A top 20 means he’s returning 5X value on DraftKings. If he finishes 17th he’s flirting with 6X value.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Starting P23)

It’s been documented by several folks (including on our very own NASCAR DFS Podcast) that Stenhouse loves Charlotte. He has a pair of seventh place finishes in the Coca-Cola 600 in the NextGen era and he’s gone on record saying this is a great track for him. Obviously, there’s the looming punishment from last week’s action. But he seems refocused on this race. He had top 10 speed in practice, but I’ll add the caveat that he ran during the session with the better track conditions. The P23 starting spot might keep heavy ownership off him. But what worries me is that Stenhouse tends to bust when he presents himself as a good play. Let’s hope that’s not the case on Sunday and that he can go on and grab another top 10 finish at Charlotte.

Player Pool

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