The Coca Cola 600 is the longest NASCAR race of the season, but there is a short list of favorites to win on Sunday.

Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick celebrates with his crew after winning one of his six victories this season. (Image:

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has Kevin Harvick a +275 to win the 400-lap race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch is next at +300 and Martin Truex Jr. is at +500.

Harvick is coming off a 1st place finish last week at the All-Star Race, also held in Charlotte. He’s been dominating one 1.5 mile tracks, winning four of six races this year on that layout. (His other two wins came on one-mile tracks.)

Failed Inspection

If Harvick is going to pull off a victory at the Coca-Cola, he’ll have to do so without a key team member. Car chief Robert “Cheddar” Smith was ejected from the weekend after the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford of Kevin Harvick failed inspection three times. As a result, Harvick did not make a qualifying lap and will start the race from the 39th position.

Apparently the car had a problem with the right-rear section in the Optical Scanning Station (OSS) machine. Crew chief Rodney Childers and others worked on the car, but to no avail.

“We worked on this thing for 12 hours Monday trying to get all of it how they wanted,” Childers said to “We felt good about it when we unloaded it. Everything was good and then we went back in to qualify and it was red and we sanded on it and it was more red and we sanded on it again and it was more red. So, that part I don’t understand and that part’s disappointing, but it’s not their fault.”

Losing a member of the staff shouldn’t affect Harvick, but Childers said it will impact the others in the pit.

“The loss of Cheddar just means I have to work a hell of a lot harder,” he said lightheartedly. “But I was a car chief for many years and I can do it as good as anybody can. So, we’ll get through it. We’ll miss him on Sunday though.”

Can Busch Beat Charlotte?

Busch, the other favorite, has his own issues at Charlotte — the only active Cup track where he hasn’t recorded a points-race victory. But otherwise the three-time winner in 2018 has an impressive record here, with 11 top fives and 16 top 10s in 28 starts.

He grabbed the pole and will be sitting up front in his quest to break his slump. Despite being winless in Charlotte, he Busch that it doesn’t worry him.

“It’s important to me, but I’m not sure it’s important in the grand scheme of things,” Busch said about the elusive Charlotte checkered flag. “It’s certainly important to me, and I would love to get that knocked out of the way and to be finished with it until another new track comes up on the circuit.”

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