This week, we are going back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the longest race of the year Sunday night for the Coca Cola 600. Not only is the longest race of the year, but it's also three different races rolled into one.
What makes this race so difficult for both divers and crew chiefs is that it starts during daylight, runs through twilight and finishes with the final crucial segment run late at night.
Since this race was switched to a night race, history has shown that the eventual winner generally was not very fast during the first two segments, but has a car that comes alive during those final 100 miles. Not only do we have to handicap the drivers this week, but we also have to look at the crew chiefs that will keep the car in contention early and make the crucial final adjustment at the end (which is when this race is won).
Denny Hamlin 9/1
Ever since NASCAR switched back to a spoiler, all of the cars from Joe Gibbs Racing have been some of the fastest cars week after week. Denny Hamlin has been the fastest of the trio of talented drivers. Charlotte Motor Speedway has not been one of his better tracks over the years, but he does have some good finishes here. With his strong showing in last weeks All-Star Race, we think he should be in contention in the critical last stage.
Kasey Kahne 15/1
If any track can wake Kasey Kahne out of his season long slump, it has to be Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he was won three out of his last eight points races in this series and also won the All-Star Race two years ago. If not for his season long slump and internal problems with this team, Kahne would be one of our top selections this week.
Jeff Burton 18/1
One of the most consistent drivers this year has been Jeff Burton thanks to starting up front most every week (something that he has struggled with for most of his career). Burton has a recent win here and is the type of driver who won’t use up his car early, which is always important in this race.
Tony Stewart 18/1
Stewart struggled early in last week’s All-Star Race with an ill handling car, but he kept working on it till he found himself up front and in contention late in the race. With everything they learned last week, we expect to see him up near the front and in a better spot to grab his first win of the year.
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