NASCAR Picks for Charlotte
Length: 1.500 miles
Location: Concord, North Carolina
The Cup Series heads back to Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend for Saturday night's Bank of America 500. The race will mark the second consecutive trip to a 1.5-mile track, and it is also part of a closing stretch where four of the final seven races will be held at 1.5-mile tracks. Needless to say, the drivers that are dialed in at the intermediate ovals are going to have a leg up in the title fight, and the same can be said for the fantasy owners that drivers to take advantage of in the final weeks of the season.
Keep in mind that, three drivers have combined to win all seven races at 1.5-mile tracks so far in 2013. Matt Kenseth has a series-leading three victories at 1.5-mile ovals, and Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are tied at two each. Meanwhile, Kenseth and Harvick rank first and second in points scored at 1.5-mile tracks this season. Not surprisingly, Jimmie Johnson also ranks in the top five in points scored, but the same probably can't be said about Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch. Truex and Kurt actually rank ahead of Johnson in points scored at 1.5-mile tracks this season, so it just goes to show that fantasy owners can put together a strong lineup without relying solely on the big names.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He is a four-time winner at Charlotte, and Kahne's four wins at the track since the start of the 2006 season are the most of any driver. He has also been particularly dialed in at Charlotte recently. In his last four starts at the track, he has posted a 3.8 average finish and has four finishes of fourth or better.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Kenseth has been stout at 1.5-mile tracks all year, and he has been delivering solid results at Charlotte for a while. He has reeled off nine straight top-15s at the track and has six top-10s during the stretch. In the last four fall races at Charlotte, Kenseth has a 5.8 average finish and won the 2011 event.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Harvick is going for a season sweep at Charlotte after winning the May event earlier this year, and the 1.5-mile track has quietly become one of his best. He has a 7.3 average finish in his last seven starts at Charlotte. Harvick has also finished eighth or better five times during the stretch and has made two trips to victory lane.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
While he hasn't been as dominant at Charlotte as he was early in his career (when he once reeled off four straight wins), Johnson remains a strong option at the track. In the last 20 races at the track, his 11.6 average finish is the second best in the series. Meanwhile, Johnson has finished third or better in three of the last four fall events at Charlotte.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Although he has somehow managed not to win a race at Charlotte, Busch has certainly been stout at the track lately. In his last 12 starts, he has piled up 10 finishes of eighth or better. More importantly, Busch has eight top-five finishes during the stretch, including six finishes of third or better.
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
His 11.9 average finish at Charlotte is the third best among active drivers, and Edwards rarely has a bad outing at the track. In fact, he has finished worse than 16th only twice in 17 starts. Meanwhile, Edwards has 12 top-12 finishes at Charlotte, including four straight.
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Believe it or not, Logano's 9.6 average finish at Charlotte is the best in the series. In nine starts at the track, he has six top-10s and has finished outside the top 15 only once. Logano finished ninth at Charlotte last fall, and he finished fifth in the May event earlier this year in his first start at the track with Penske Racing. Needless to say, he offers plenty of upside.
Kurt Busch, #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
While he may not be the most consistent option available, Busch has a ton of upside. After all, he has finished in the top 15 in five of his last eight starts at Charlotte, finishing fourth or better three times and winning the Coca-Cola 600 in 2010. Perhaps most importantly, Busch finished a strong third in his first start at the track with Furniture Row Racing earlier this season.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Bowyer is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and although he used fuel mileage strategy to get to victory lane, he has still been running well at Charlotte lately. In his last eight starts at the track, he has six top-15s - including three straight. Bowyer followed up his win last fall with an eighth-place effort earlier this year, and another top-10 run could be on tap Saturday night.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
After a mostly unimpressive career at Charlotte, Biffle has been dialed in at the track recently. In his last six starts at the 1.5-mile oval, he has five top-15 finishes. Biffle also has three top-five finishes during the stretch, including a fourth-place run in the fall event last year.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Although his 18.1 average finish at Charlotte isn't great, Truex has been rock solid at the track the last couple of years. He has three straight top-12 finishes at Charlotte, including a 10th-place run last fall and a ninth-place run earlier this year. Look for Truex to challenge for a top-10 again this weekend.
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Despite being mired in a prolonged slump, Hamlin's record at Charlotte recently can't be totally ignored. He has finished in the top 10 in his last six starts at the track and has compiled a 5.3 average finish. Not to mention the fact that in his last three starts at Charlotte, Hamlin has finished second, second and fourth.