Race: Bank of America 500
Date: Saturday October 8, 2016
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Time: 7 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
There we have it, folks! The first round of the Chase is complete, knocking out the first four drivers. Martin Truex Jr. picked up his second win of the Chase in just 3 races. There’s something about him right now. This may just be his year. Truex has shown that his team is most certainly a championship caliber team. Their work together on and off the track is paying off, as is Truex’s support from long-time girlfriend who is never far behind. The four drivers eliminated include Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray, Chris Buescher, and Tony Stewart. Although Stewart gave a good fight, he was never consistent enough to truly be a champion this year. I like Chris Beuscher, but he lucked into the Chase. The experience he’s gained will prove to be invaluable, though, and I am certain he will do nothing more than improve as the races go on. McMurray, well, he’s always hit or miss. He’s generally on the border, and that didn’t change this year. Kyle Larson put up a good fight, but he wasn’t able to hang when all the chips fell. Again, he has gained a great amount of experience and proven that he’s got a fire in him. I am interested in seeing his progress next year and even in the closing races of this year’s Chase.
This weekend, the remaining 12 contenders are heading to the previous house of Jimmie Johnson. Johnson used to dominate this track relentlessly. Something has changed, and although he’s in the Chase right now, he’s coming up short. Maybe this weekend can prove to be the turning point he needs to really get the possibility of the championship back into his hands. A bunch of these drivers have really excelled on these intermediate tracks, though, and are likely to really give Johnson a run for his money. Not only will he have competition, but he has really got to stop with the pit road penalties. Entering and exiting speeding penalties are literally killing him. His team isn’t messing up. He is. That needs to stop now if he has any hopes of staying in the Chase. This point in the season is critical and the point at which you should be nothing but flawless. You don’t become a champion out of luck…usually.
This weekend at Charlotte, the drivers are headed to a cookie-cutter intermediate track. This 1.5 mile quad-oval is asphalt with 24 degree banking in the turns and 5 degrees on the straights/ There’s no surprises here. This track is exactly what you’d expect out of an intermediate track. The difference will be being under the lights on Saturday night. That often determines how well the crews can manage car setup. Racing under the October night skies is much different than racing in the heat of May. The cars are often much tighter and even looser simply because of the change in weather. The cool air keeps the track cool, leaving drivers with less grip on the track at night. There will be numerous adjustments on pit road as the night progresses, more so than what we see during a day race. Track bar adjustments will be plentiful, and we will likely see plenty of sparks as the cars bottom out with crews trying to get as much down force and aero on the car as possible with the cool night air.
As I mentioned previously, this used to be the House of Jimmie. That has since changed. Just this year, Martin Truex Jr. dominated the race in the spring. He led 392 of 400 laps. It just doesn’t get any more dominating than that. It’s honestly be pretty stupid not to consider him for the win this weekend. While this is a night race and there are certainly differences, with 2 wins in the last 3 races, Truex is not playing around. He will certainly have plenty of competition as other drivers look to improve on their position in the Chase and try to get that win. Winning on Saturday night would mean a secured spot into the next round. That’s all these guys want. The racing will be intense. Night racing tends to make people more aggressive for some reason. I expect this weekend at Charlotte to be no different. Let’s take a look at all of your potential winners this weekend:
My Pick to Win: Martin Truex Jr.
Middle of the Road Pick: Kasey Kahne
Dark Horse Prediction: Chase Elliott. Bet your picks using your credit card at an online sportsbook where it WILL work for deposits and where you'll receive a generous free play bonus for doing so! --> MyBookie.
Kasey Kahne…I know. But this is by and far his best track. He’s coming in this weekend without a championship possibility, meaning he likely has nothing to lose. With this being a good shot for him to redeem himself this season, I expect him to be competitive. Chase Elliott, on the other hand, still has his hands in the pot for a championship. As a rookie, he’s been impressive. Charlotte is not necessarily the greatest track for him, but he still has performed well before. He finished the first Charlotte race this year in a very respectable eighth place. As a Chase contender, he may very well improve on that figure. These guys will all have a lot on the line as this next round starts.
Here are your current top 12 after last week's race:
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Kyle Busch
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Joey Logano
6. Chase Elliott
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Kurt Busch
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Carl Edwards
11. Jimmie Johnson
12. Austin Dillon
Those last 4 drivers have the most at stake. They will certainly need a win or the best possible finish to hit that top 8 bubble. Four more guys are going to go after the next three races, so the racing should get pretty intense. While I expect Truex to have another amazing night, he will definitely have competition. More than likely Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth are going to be his biggest contenders. Stay tuned to see how these guys handle a Saturday night under the lights in the first race of this new round of the Chase! For the widest selection of NASCAR wagers including prop bets, check out 5Dimes Sportsbook. They really are the best book on the web as they offer the lowest prices on odds and the fastest payouts!
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