The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series marches on to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 31st race of the 2011 season, the Bank of America 500. NASCAR expert Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and spoke with NASCAR contacts to predict how the field should finish on Saturday night.
When: Saturday, October 15, 2011; 7:46 p.m./et.
Weather: Sunny with a high around 72; wind out of the WNW at 8 mph There is a Zero percent chance of precipitation.
The Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
CMS is a 1.5 mile quad-oval. It has 24 degree banking in the turns and five degree banking on the straight-aways.
Key to Race: THE TRACK THAT JOHNSON OWNS
Not only is Lowe's on the front of Jimmie Johnson's car, but it is also the former name of the track that he dominates. Johnson has finished in the top two in 11 of the last 21 races (including All-Star Challenges) at the track. It is tough to pick against J.J. this weekend.
48 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. Cars not in the top 35 in the 2011 owner point standings will have to qualify based on speed. Starting positions 1-43 will be determined by qualifying on Thursday, October 13 at 7:10 pm/et.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has dominated Charlotte Motor Speedway in his career. He is a MUST use this week.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Rowdy has been mostly great at CMS the past two years. He will be fast again this weekend.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards won the All Star race at CMS earlier this year and has finished in the top 16 in all but two of his career starts at CMS. We like his chances on Saturday.
No. 20 Joey Logano: Logano has been awesome at CMS during his career. He will crack the top 10 again on Saturday.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth had one of the top cars at CMS the past four full-length races. He is a good pick.
6 to 10
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick won the 600 at Charlotte this year, but he led just two laps in the race. He should be another top car this weekend.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon won the October race at CMS in 2007 for his fifth career win at the track. His past success at the track makes him a great option.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin usually runs fast in Charlotte. If he can avoid an accident he is a lock to crack the top 10.
No. 22 Kurt Busch: Busch was awesome at CMS the past two spring races. He is a candidate for another top five finish.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle finished fifth last October and during this year’s All Star race at CMS. He should be back with another top 10 finish this visit.
11 to 20
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray was one of the fastest cars on the track at Charlotte the past three races. He is worth using in all leagues.
No. 00 David Reutimann: Reutimann has driven excellent in four of the past five full-length races at CMS. His win in 2008 was a complete fluke, but he should be strong enough for another top 15 finish this weekend.
No. 4 Kasey Kahne: Kahne won the All Star Challenge and the Coca-Cola 600 at CMS in 2008. He will be fast again.
No. 5 Mark Martin: Martin has 18 top five finishes during his career at CMS. He crashed during the All Star race and the 600 this season, but is still worth sneaking onto your roster.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior has finished in the top 11 in eight of his last 14 starts at CMS. He should drive his car into the top 20 without much of an issue.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: CMS isn’t one of Stewart’s favorite tracks. He has averaged just a 17th place finish at the track during his career.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has cracked the top 20 in two of his four trips to CMS. He is a decent option this weekend.
No. 6 David Ragan: Ragan impressed during this year’s All Star race and then the 600. He is a fine sleeper pick.
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burton has won three races at CMS so he knows his way around the oval. He should finish inside the top 20.
No. 33 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has brought just three great cars to CMS in 10 career starts. He is more of a top 15 driver this weekend than a top 10 driver.
21 to 30
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman has nine poles in 20 career starts at CMS. He should qualify strong and a top 20 finish is expected.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya hasn’t had a ton of success at Charlotte during his career. He isn’t a great choice this weekend.
No. 43 A.J. Allmendinger: A.J. has finished in the top 20 in four of his nine career starts at CMS. He will miss the top 20 again this weekend.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has two top 10 finishes in 12 career starts at CMS. He will be doing well to crack the top 20 on Saturday.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has had just one strong finish at Charlotte during his career. He normally has some sleeper potential, but there are better choices this weekend.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose is just a fair-to-middlin’ pick this weekend. He should finish right around his 25th place career average at Charlotte.
No. 83 Brian Vickers: Vickers has struggled this season, but Charlotte is one of his better tracks. He is a buy-low option right now.
No. 78 Regan Smith: Smith has averaged a 19th place finish at CMS. Furniture Row has rarely looked better.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte: Labonte has been terrific at CMS during his career. If you are ever going to have the No. 47 car on your team this is the weekend.
No. 7 Robby Gordon: Gordon somehow stumbled and bumbled into a third place finish at CMS in the 2008 May race. He will finish about 25 spots worse this visit to CMS.
No. 13 Casey Mears
No. 34 David Gilliland
No. 21 Trevor Bayne
No. 51 Landon Cassill
No. 71 Hermie Sadler
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 38 J.J. Yeley
No. 46 Scott Speed
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 32 Mike Bliss
No. 55 Travis Kvapil
No. 77 Andy Lally
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 37 Josh Wise
No. 35 Geoff Bodine
No. 60 Mike Skinner
No. 66 Michael McDowell
No. 75 Derrike Cope
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kyle Busch
3. Carl Edwards
4. Joey Logano
1. Joey Logano
2. Jamie McMurray
Bust of the Week: