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May 26, 2024

Racing Insights: Kyle Larson still favorite despite potential Indy delays

Kyle Larson at North Wilkesboro.
James Gilbert
Getty Images

Editor’s note: Original projections have been updated after Saturday practice and qualifying.

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After a wild All-Star Race Weekend that saw tempers flare and $1 million paid out to Joey Logano, the Cup Series regular season is back in full swing this weekend with a crown-jewel race on tap in the Queen City.

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The advance metrics once again have sights set on Kyle Larson to end up in Victory Lane, despite there being a chance he might not make it to the race because of delays in Indianapolis. Larson, of course, is attempting the Memorial Day double, which is a challenge unto itself, but if Larson makes it to race in Charlotte, he will be on a 1.5-mile track where he has dominated.

In 2021, when Larson won the Coca-Cola 600, he swept each stage and led 327 laps. He also has 21 stage wins on 1.5-mile tracks since ’21 and has the most top-five finishes in night races in the Next Gen era with seven.

Following Larson in the projections are Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. (up two spots since the original projection), 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Hendrick’s Chase Elliott.

William Byron, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell and Ross Chastain round out the projected top 10.


TYLER REDDICK: Reddick has impressively finished in the top 10 in each of his four Coca-Cola 600 starts, giving him an average finish of 7.0 in NASCAR’s longest race and ranking second-best all-time among drivers with more than two starts. Reddick also has scored the second most points on 1.5-mile tracks (113) this season.

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Truex has remained consistent all year. He currently sits second in the driver standings and is the only one without a trip to Victory Lane in the top six, but that could change soon. Truex has led the most laps in four of the last nine Coca-Cola 600s, including his remarkable 2016 win where he led 392 laps.

CHASE ELLIOTT: Elliott’s 9.85 average finish is currently the best in the Cup field. He already has an intermediate win this year at Texas. At Charlotte, he has finished top five in four of the last six oval races, including a pair of runner-up finishes in the last five events and Hendrick has won 12 Coca-Cola 600s.

CHRIS BUESCHER: The Buescher camp has suffered heartbreak in the last two points-paying races. Despite that, the No. 17 team has been hitting its stride and has been in contention to win in a handful of races this year. Charlotte could be the weekend they finally put it all together and get a breakthrough win.

KYLE BUSCH: It’s been an up-and-down year for Rowdy, but across the last seven Coca-Cola 600s, he’s finished sixth or better. His 1,061 laps led in the 600 ranks third best all-time. Not to mention Busch has 16 career wins on 1.5-mile tracks. Plus, two of Busch’s five top-10 finishes came on intermediates this year.


Racing Insights’ advanced statistical formula includes current track, current track type, recent performance, team data and pit-crew data to arrive at a projected winner and full race results.

FinishCar NumberDriver
15Kyle Larson
211Denny Hamlin
319Martin Truex Jr.
445Tyler Reddick
59Chase Elliott
624William Byron
712Ryan Blaney
848Alex Bowman
920Christopher Bell
101Ross Chastain
1154Ty Gibbs
128Kyle Busch
136Brad Keselowski
1423Bubba Wallace
1514Chase Briscoe
1622Joey Logano
1710Noah Gragson
1899Daniel Suárez
1934Michael McDowell
2017Chris Buescher
214Josh Berry
223Austin Dillon
2347Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2443Erik Jones
2541Ryan Preece
2642John Hunter Nemechek
2751Justin Haley
287Corey LaJoie
2977Carson Hocevar
3071Zane Smith
312Austin Cindric
3221Harrison Burton
3338Todd Gilliland
3431Daniel Hemric
3584Jimmie Johnson
3615Kaz Grala
3716Shane van Gisbergen
3850Ty Dillon
3944J.J. Yeley
4066BJ McLeod