The last time Martin Truex Jr. won the Coca-Cola 600, there was Hall of Fame talk in the winner’s circle … for team owner Joe Gibbs, who five days prior to the 2019 race was announced as a member of the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame class.
If Truex wins the Coca-Cola 600 this year, there may be Hall of Fame talk in the winner’s circle again, this time for Truex himself.
“Stat-wise” Truex is a Hall of Famer, he guessed prior to the DuraMAX Drydene 400 four weeks ago, while admitting he hasn’t “given it much thought” and doesn’t know if he’s done enough over his 19-year career to join Gibbs among the sport’s elite.
Another win at Charlotte Motor Speedway would be a big step in that direction. Bettors at BetMGM, however, aren’t buying Truex’s third win in the last seven Coca-Cola 600s.
As of Wednesday, Truex has the fourth-best race-winner odds; at +900, he only trails last year’s winner Kyle Larson (+550), teammate and 2018 winner Kyle Busch (+700), and this year’s points leader Chase Elliott (+750).
But Truex is buried in ticket and handle shares.
With 2.8% of the tickets in NASCAR betting, he’s tied with William Byron for the 16th-highest ticket share, miles behind Busch (8.1%), Elliott (7.6%), and Larson (6.2%). And his 4% handle share ranks 12th, dwarfed by those of Busch (14.2%) and Elliott (11.6%).
If the public doesn’t pound Truex enough before Sunday’s race, it will be his lowest ticket and handle ranks of the season. Through the first 13 regular-season races, he hasn’t been lower than 11th in tickets (Food City Dirt Race) or handle (Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500).
Are bettors turned off by his unusual irrelevancy a year ago?
Prior to a flat tire in Stage 4, he spent the entire evening out of contention, racing between 12th and 15th for the majority of the first 342 laps. And after returning to the track, he made up little ground and finished 29th.
It was his worst finish in the grueling race – and in all starts at Charlotte – since a 24th-place finish in 2014. From 2015-20, he never finished worse than ninth in the Coca-Cola 600, a run that included finishes of first, third, second, and first from 2016-19.
Even with another 29th place finish at Charlotte last October – in the Bank of America Roval 400 – he still ranks fourth in average driver rating and third in laps led at the 1.5-mile quad oval since 2019. And if he wins the Coca-Cola 600 again, he’ll join six Hall of Famers and one future Hall of Famer in a group of only nine drivers with three wins in the event.
Truex and another future Hall of Famer, Kevin Harvick, are the only active drivers with multiple wins in NASCAR’s longest race. And while Harvick hasn’t won the race since 2013 – with only one finish better than 10th since 2017 – and hasn’t won any Cup Series race since September 2020, the 46-year-old is a more popular betting pick than Truex.
Here are the 25 most-bet drivers (by tickets) at BetMGM for the 2022 Coca-Cola 600 (as of Wednesday, May 25):
|Martin Truex Jr.||2.8%||4.0%|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||1.4%||0.1%|