NASCAR betting: Hendrick, Gibbs dominate top of Coca-Cola 600 oddsboard

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NASCAR betting: Hendrick, Gibbs dominate top of Coca-Cola 600 oddsboard
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It‘s all about Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing as the NASCAR Cup Series stops at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Sunday‘s Coca-Cola 600, as drivers from those garages occupy the top five spots on the oddsboard, before a significant drop to the next tier of betting entries.

The two teams have separated themselves from the pack, putting distance between themselves and even Team Penske. Hendrick‘s Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, and Gibbs‘ Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are not only the top five betting choices this Sunday, but they also have the five shortest prices at BetMGM to claim the 2021 Cup championship.

RELATED: Odds presented by BetMGM | BetCenter

Larson is priced as the betting market‘s consensus early favorite for the Memorial Day weekend race, listed at 5/1 odds (+500, or bet $100 to win $500) as of Friday morning at BetMGM. The Coke 600 (Sun., 6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) marks the fifth Cup race on 1.5-mile tracks this season, and the No. 5 Chevrolet has been stellar through the first four. Larson finished fourth at Homestead, first in Last Vegas and second in Atlanta, and he led 132 laps in Kansas before late-race weirdness shuffled him back to 19th.

Truex is the +550 second choice. While his three wins this season have come on shorter layouts using the 750-horsepower, low-downforce package (teams bring the 550-hp, high-downforce package to Charlotte), he has not finished outside the top nine on the four 1.5s. Over the past four seasons, his 107.6 average driver rating and 8.07 average finish on intermediate tracks rank second and third in the Series, respectively.

There‘s a pricing discrepancy among oddsmakers when it comes to Elliott, as SuperBook USA, a respected Las Vegas shop, opened the No. 9 at 6/1, odds equal to Kyle Busch and Truex. At BetMGM and Barstool Sportsbook, Elliott is the 7/1 fourth choice, priced longer than Truex and Busch (+650). A $1 difference may not seem like much to a casual sports bettor, but this type of edge has major impact on determining long-term betting success.

Denny Hamlin still leads the Series in points by a wide margin but has fallen off in recent weeks. After eight top-five finishes through the first nine races, Hamlin has just one over the last five and has finished outside the top 10 three times during that stretch. His stats at Charlotte and on 1.5s overall are solid but far from spectacular. We‘ll be looking elsewhere in the outright market, but if you like the No. 11 this week, the +750 at Barstool is on the high end of the market.

While Kyle Busch has been wildly inconsistent this season, his success on 1.5-mile layouts gets the betting market‘s respect. He has six wins on intermediate tracks since 2018, including this season at Kansas, and his 7.74 average is tops in Cup.

And what of the Penske drivers? Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano each have a win this season (Blaney‘s came at the 1.5-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway), and all three reside in the top nine in points. While they‘re typically in the mix every week, there‘s a clear dropoff, at least this week in the betting market‘s opinion, between the top five drivers and this trio. The Nos. 2, 12 and 22 are all priced at double-digit odds at BetMGM, with Blaney at 10/1, Kes at 11/1 and Logano 14/1.

Kevin Harvick, meanwhile, remains the outlier from the Hendrick/Gibbs/Penske triumvirate, but he continues his slide in bookmakers‘ eyes. The No. 4 has been lengthened at the SuperBook from a 10/1 opener to 12/1, a number few would have predicted before this season for Harvick at any track. Interestingly, he has accumulated excellent stats on intermediate tracks overall — his 111.8 rating since 2018 is best in the Series and his 8.05 average finish is second to Busch. However, even at double-digital odds, it‘ll take a leap of faith to back Harvick to win Sunday.

Marcus DiNitto is a writer and editor living in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been covering sports for nearly two-and-a-half decades and sports betting for more than 10 years. His first NASCAR betting experience was in 1995 at North Wilkesboro Speedway, where he went 0-for-3 on his matchup picks. Read his articles and follow him on Twitter; do not bet his picks.