NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Coca Cola 600

Things are heating up, especially in the Hendrick Motorsports camp, just in time for the summer segment of the season. Speaking of HMS, the Coca Cola 600 will feature the return of Alex Bowman who has missed four weeks due to a fractured vertebrae he incurred during a Sprint Car race in West Burlington, Iowa. Great timing as Alex is pretty good at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He remains eligible for the 2023 Playoffs after NASCAR granted a medical waiver.

We'll also get to see another familiar face as Jimmie Johnson will be racing the No. 84 car for Legacy Motorsports. To say that Jimmie Johnson has a pretty good record at Charlotte would be quite the understatement. He has earned eight wins, the most among active Cup Series drivers. His last victory here came in 2016. Hopefully it will be a better outing then his first one this season back in March at the Circuit of the Americas where he didn't even make it to Lap 2. Stay tuned!

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Kyle Busch - 5
Both with 4 - Alex Bowman and Kevin Harvick
All with 3 - Tyler Reddick, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson, and Chris Buescher

By Track (Last 6 Points Races)
Both with 5 - Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick
All with 4 -  Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Alex Bowman

Recent Pole Winners: 
2022 Denny Hamlin
2021 Kyle Larson
2020 Kurt Busch
2019 William Byron

Last Year's Race Winner: Denny Hamlin

The Likely Suspects: My Coca Cola 600 elite drivers are Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson, and Tyler Reddick.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Denny Hamlin. My next picks are Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr.. I will complete my team with Rocky Stenhouse Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.

My Final Four: Kyle Larson, Tyler Reddick, Kyle Busch, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Second-Look Driver: This week's sleeper pick is Chris Buescher. Chris has three Top 10s at Charlotte with a best finish of sixth in the 2019 Coke 600. He finished 10th a year later, and ran eighth in the 2021 marquee event. Last season, he was inside the Top 10 in the late stages of the race before flipping multiple times down the front stretch. Chris is currently 13th in the driver's standing and has been super consistent. This could be his week to win.

Points to Ponder:
  • The first starting position is the most prolific starting position in the field, producing more winners (19) than any other starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
  • 19 of the 124 NASCAR Cup Series races at Charlotte 15.32%) have been won from the pole (first starting position); the most recent was Denny Hamlin in the 2022 Coca-Cola 600.
  • Eight different manufacturers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Charlotte, led by Chevrolet with 47 victories. 
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway with 21 victories. 
  • A total of 10 of the 54 NASCAR Cup Series Charlotte Motor Speedway race winners are entered this weekend, with five of the 10 still looking for their first victory of the 2023 season – Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, and Austin Dillon.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in Coca-Cola 600 wins with four (2003, 2004, 2005, 2014); followed by Kevin Harvick (2011, 2013) and Martin Truex Jr. (2016, 2019) with two victories each.
  • Kevin Harvick (2001, 2014, 2015, 2016) and Kyle Busch (2010, 2011, 2017, 2022) lead all active drivers in runner-up finishes at Charlotte with four each. 
  • Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with 16 Top 5 finishes at Charlotte Motor Speedway each. 
  • Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Top 10 finishes at Charlotte with 19 each.  
  • Tyler Reddick (three starts) leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 10.3. 
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series in laps led at Charlotte Motor Speedway with 1,936 laps led in 37 starts. 
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your initial picks by 7:20 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 27th and your final picks by 6 p.m. ET on race day, Sunday, May 28th.

Enjoy the race!
Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 16 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.

When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Coca Cola 600 NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Coca Cola 600 Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, May 26, 2023 Rating: 5