NASCAR Breakdown | Alsco Uniforms 500
By Jason Paglia
Quick Coca – Cola 600 Recap
Well, the Coca-Cola 600 went off without a hitch on Sunday, and the car with the American flag draped across it got the win for Penske Racing this Memorial Day Weekend. Brad Keselowski, who did not lead a lap in the race until late in the evening stole a win that most likely would not have been his but for a huge mistake by Chase Elliott’s Crew Chief.
Alan Gustafson sent Chase Elliott to pit road with 3 laps remaining under the final caution of the night, and it ended up costing Chase and the race team the win. Jimmie Johnson who finished 2nd in the race, failed post inspection after the race was over and will start at the back of the pack on Wednesday night.
Aside from that, Alex Bowman had the strongest car the first half of the race, and Martin Truex Jr was rock solid until he lost the battle off pit road on the 2nd to the last caution. In the end, it cost him any chance he had of winning the race and that wraps up Sunday.
Who takes the checkered flag at the Alsco Uniforms 500?
Alex Bowman (+750) – Has been a pleasant surprise in the 88 Chevy this season. He already has a win this season, and a 2nd place finish under his belt. He has raced much better than his 2020 average finish of 13th thus far this season. He could have easily finished in the top 5 at Charlotte this weekend if not for having trouble late in the race. This season he has been one of the best Chevrolets on the track after Chase Elliott and Kurt Busch this year. Bowman will start in the first row on Wednesday, but Sunday night he learned all too well that it’s how you finish the race, not how you look at the halfway point. In his last 3 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bowman has finished in the top 10 twice. If he can harness what he had for the first half of Sunday’s race, he could make some noise late Wednesday night.
Chase Elliott (+550) – Chase has had some tough luck this season. He could have won twice this year if not for late mistakes, and it has to be weighing on him. He has 3 top 5 finishes in 7 races this season, and 4 top 10 finishes in 7 races. That is a great start to the year for Elliott. The overall Chevy performance has been miles better this year. The engine upgrades and the modifications to the nose have really done all Chevy drivers justice. With Kyle Larson indefinitely suspended for racist remarks, Chase Elliott is THE young driver in the sport today. Elliott has been rock solid at Charlotte for the last couple of years. Since 2017, Elliott has a pair of 2nd place finishes and 4th place finish at the track. When you add in the fact that Elliott should have won the race on Sunday, you could understand his low odds and formidable chances.
The BIG 3(Martin Truex Jr.(+500) Kyle Busch (+700) Kevin Harvick (+1000)) – Martin Truex Jr.
It looked like he was on his way to a Coca-Cola 600 win before other drivers beat him out of the pits the last couple cautions. His car was not great at the start of the race, but it continued to improve throughout the night. I had a Truex ticket in my pocket Sunday night. The handicap was sound. He had 3 wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway since 2016, and before Sunday had finished no worse than 5th in 7 of the last 8 years. The price is short but he will be in the mix late. Kyle Busch was quiet for most of the race on Sunday. He worked his way through the pack, and by the end of the race, he was in the top 5. Joe Gibbs Racing has driven very well at Charlotte the last decade. Busch is another driver that has run no worse than 4th, four of the last five races. Without question, Joe Gibbs Racing will have at the very least two drivers fighting for a win on Wednesday. The one driver that was surprising on Sunday was Kevin Harvick. Harvick is an absolute juggernaut most days that he is on the track but he struggled on Memorial Day weekend. By the time the race was over, he had finished 5th, but if we are being honest he was never a threat and out of the top 10 most of the race. As dominant as he is (and he is my pick to win the NASCAR Championship this season) Harvick has not had his best at Charlotte in quite some time. Normally we never see Harvick with odds of (+1000) or higher, so I understand anyone taking the value play on Harvick. We still don’t have the benefit of practice sessions yet. These race selections should become slightly easier once we do.
Ryan Blaney (+1600) – Blaney has that Penske power under the hood for Ford, and his setup is very similar to his teammate Brad Keselowski who won the race on Sunday night. Blaney is one of the best young drivers in the sport. He has multiple top 10 and top 5 finishes this season, and when it was all said and done Sunday night he finished 3rd. PENSKE looks very strong at Charlotte right now, and with odds of 16-1, I can understand why anybody would take a small flyer on him Wednesday.
Kurt Busch (+2200) – You wouldn’t know it by his odds, but Kurt Busch has the 4th best average finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway for active drivers. That is great when you consider the names in this race on Wednesday. He is another driver that has benefited from the new power under the hood of Chevy. Although Kurt Busch has struggled at Charlotte recently, he still has two top 10n finishes in the last 3 races. Do I think other drivers have a better chance of winning tonight? Yes, I do…. But when you consider the value we see on him, he is another driver I wouldn’t mind taking a flyer on.