Race: Bank of America 500
Date: Saturday October 12, 2013
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Time: 6:30 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
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Kansas proved once again why it is one of Kyle Busch’s worst tracks. He ended up wrecking and brushing his chances of a championship in the blink of an eye. That’s really all it takes. These last six races are going to be fun to watch. The dynamics of these teams and the risks that they are or are not willing to take are going to produce a champion. So teams seem to be taking it easy and staying out of trouble while other teams are risking everything and running as hard as they can for every point. Those points are a very valuable commodity. Despite a strong finish, Jeff Gordon gained a position in the standings, yet only gained a total of 6 points on leader Matt Kenseth, essentially showing us why everyone is calling this a 3 man race.
This weekend we are headed to Charlotte, AKA the house of Jimmie. I dare to say that there is going to be a lot of competition for Johnson on Saturday night, though. This teprack is always an exciting race to watch, especially under the lights. It’s a 1.5 mile tire oval. For all intensive purposes, it’s a cookie-cutter track, but that definitely does not take away from its excitement. The front stretch boasts 1980 feet, and the backstretch comes in at 1500 feet. There is 24 degree banking along the turns and 5 degrees on the straights. The most important factor of this track is track position. Tires are going to play a role in getting that track position, but those who qualify out front and practice out front historically stay out front. Watch for those 2 events to give a good indicator of how the field will run.
Jimmie Johnson has an unprecedented 6 wins here. That being said, they aren’t the most recent in terms of track and race history. The one that you are going to have to watch for is going to be last week’s Kansas winner, Kevin Harvick. Not only is he coming fresh off a win, but he is this year’s Coca-Cola 600 winner here at Charlotte. He’s got a lot of momentum coming into Saturday’s race and will be one to watch. Another factor will undoubtedly be Kyle Busch. Busch is mad. He’s got a lot to be mad about. He’s got a feud with Keselowski stemming from an incident in the Nationwide race last week, and he wrecked, ruining his day, at Kansas. Not only is he mad, but he’s got a lot of ground to make up to catch leader Kenseth. When we consider your potential winners for Charlotte, I’m putting my money on Johnson. Although he hasn’t had the most stellar runs, he’s getting closer and closer to Kenseth. This is a track where he can surpass Kenseth for the lead, and I think he will do it. Here’s a look at your potential winners for this weekend’s race:
My Pick to Win: Jimmie Johnson
Middle of the Road Pick: Jamie McMurray
Dark Horse Prediction: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Jamie McMurray is never a bad pick. He has a couple of wins here and usually is at the front of the pack throughout the majority of the race. Stenhouse is one to watch. He’s getting stronger, and Charlotte is generally a solid track for the rookie drivers. It’s a place where speed takes precedent, so as long as a team brings a strong car, rookies generally have a good shot at a solid finish so long as they maintain their equipment. Johnson really is going to be the one to beat. He’s got a lot riding on some wins and needs to go ahead and get to the top of the leader board. That being said, there were a few changes in the points following Kansas, as you can imagine, especially with drivers like Kyle Busch wrecking out.
Here are your current top 13 after last week’s race:
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Jeff Gordon
5. Kyle Busch
6. Greg Biffle
7. Kurt Busch
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. Clint Bowyer
10. Joey Logano
11. Carl Edwards
12. Ryan Newman
13. Kasey Kahne
This weekend is sure to bring a little bit of attitude to the track. I think that we will still see some carryover from the Keselowski-Busch feud, which will make Kyle’s Chase a little more interesting. We are also going to see some big runs and possible Hail Mary strategies from other teams like Gordon and Harvick, who are going to give it all they’ve got to get a championship. Stay tuned for some awesome Saturday night racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway!
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