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May 23, 2024

Coca-Cola 600 betting: Does Indy/Charlotte double make Larson a favorite to fade?

Kyle Larson looks on during driver intros
Sean Gardner
Getty Images

Kyle Larson occupies his familiar spot atop the NASCAR Cup Series odds board for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN Radio, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio), but he has more than usual to overcome to deliver for bettors this weekend.

Weather pending, Larson is slated to compete in the Indianapolis 500 before boarding a plane and flying to North Carolina to race 600 miles around Charlotte Motor Speedway. Fatigue, both mental and physical, will be a factor.

While some bettors believe Larson is just the guy who can win in Charlotte on the same day he races in Indy, others see potential value in betting against the No. 5 Chevrolet.

RELATED: Charlotte weekend schedule | Coca-Cola 600 odds

A respected bettor in Las Vegas saw an opportunity when Larson’s odds were lengthened at the Westgate SuperBook early in the week.

“I opened Larson at five (+500) and then they went up to six (+600), and someone bet him immediately at six, so I went back to five,” said Ed Salmons, vice president of risk management at the SuperBook. “The bettors, they just handicap and ignore the other stuff.”

Sharp NASCAR bettor Blake Phillips, though, anticipates value in fading Larson in matchup props, especially once the betting market reacts to what is seen on the track Saturday. If Larson looks good in practice and qualifying — which he usually does — his betting prices will likely inflate even further.

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“I’d make him a favorite, too, if I was setting the lines for a book, but my intuition says (the fatigue factor) is not priced in,” Phillips said. “In the outright market (betting a driver to win), it’s hard for that value to trickle down to the other drivers just because the vig (the edge the bookmaker prices into a betting market) is so high, but in the matchups, I think you’re going to find a lot of good bets against Kyle Larson.”

One potential matchup prop to circle is DraftKings’s pricing of Denny Hamlin at -105 vs. Larson (-125), a better number for Hamlin than the SuperBook’s -110.

Always check your sportsbook’s rules, but in most cases, drivers must start for action. In other words, if you place a bet on Larson, or against him in a matchup prop, bets would be refunded if he does not start in the race.

Buescher rising

It’s been a tough season for Fords, but the manufacturer has put cars in the winner’s circle in two of the last three Cup events — Brad Keselowski’s No. 6 at Darlington and Joey Logano’s No. 22 in the All-Star Race.

Bettors are biting, as there have been early wagers on Chris Buescher, Ryan Blaney and Keselowski to win the Coca-Cola 600.

“The Fords have shown a ton of speed of late,” Salmons said. “Buescher could have won two straight races, Keselowski wound up winning (at Darlington), and even (Noah) Gragson and (Josh) Berry have shown some speed. Blaney looked decent in Darlington, and he dominated this race last year. So, it’s hard to forget about him for here.”

Phillips added of Buescher, “RFK (Racing) has had some really good progress recently. If you’ve been paying attention to it, it’s not really a surprise. Buescher’s been moving his way up for the last couple seasons. He’s been really good in the Next Gen car.”

Nothing to see here

With Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s promise to wreck Kyle Busch after the fracas that ensued between the two last Sunday night at North Wilkesboro, some bettors may be inclined to stay away from the No. 8 in Charlotte.

Does Stenhouse’s threat make it more likely that Busch will not finish the race?

Neither Salmons nor Phillips are buying that notion. Moreover, Stenhouse backed off the threat this week.

“I look for (situations) every week if there are drivers that I think are going to cause each other trouble on the track. But I think it’s a lot of talk (this week),” Phillips said. “The amount of media attention that’s being given to the incident is much higher than normal, and it makes it less likely that there’s any follow-through on the track. And with Stenhouse being hit with penalties, too, I just think that nobody’s really going be eager to exacerbate this problem.”

“Charlotte’s not the track to wreck someone on purpose,” Salmons added.

Around the track

Here are the names of some other drivers who came up during our conversations with the bookmaker Salmons and bettor Phillips:

– Tyler Reddick was bet early from +1000 to +800 at the SuperBook, per Salmons. Phillips said Reddick tends to be undervalued in the outright market, and if he can find the No. 45 at +900 or better this week, he’d be interested.

– Salmons was impressed with Ty Gibbs at Darlington, where he led 34 laps, accumulated 52 points and finished second. “He’s a guy that seems like he’s ready to win at any point,” Salmons said. “Could this be the week? Sure. I thought he showed a ton at Darlington.”

– Bubba Wallace was offered at +3300 on the odds screen Phillips was watching while we spoke on Wednesday, an enticing price for the No. 23 Toyota. “I doubt I’ll play it, but I feel like this season we’ll probably see him get a win on a mile-and-a-half, or at least have a couple really tight top-three finishes. He’s right there, and if his pit crew can clean up their act a little bit, I think we’ll see him as a contender somewhat frequently.”

Marcus DiNitto is Content Manager at Catena Media, where he manages the company’s sports betting partnership with The Sporting News. NASCAR is one of the many sports Marcus enjoys wagering on. Follow him on Twitter; do not follow his picks.