The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series marches on to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 12th race of the 2012 season, the Coca-Cola 600. 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 Sunday.
When: Sunday, May 27; 6:19 p.m./et.
Weather: Sunny with a high around 88; wind out of the SSE at 2 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 12 of the last 22 races (including All-Star Challenges) at the track. It is tough to pick against J.J. this weekend.
47 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. If the first practice is run, but qualifying is unable to take place, the starting lineup will be based on speeds from the car's fastest lap from the first practice, with top-35 cars in owner points no longer segregated from the non-top 35 cars. Previously, the top 35 cars lined up in front of all other eligible car owners.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has dominated Charlotte Motor Speedway in his career (including last week’s All Star Race). 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 last year and has finished in the top 16 in all but two of his career starts at CMS. We like his chances on Sunday.
No. 20 Joey Logano: Logano has been awesome at CMS during his career. He will crack the top 10 again on Sunday.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth had one of the top cars at CMS the past five full-length races. He is a great pick.
6 to 10
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick won the 600 at Charlotte last year and finished sixth in the fall race. He will be tough-to-beat again on Sunday.
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. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has been very inconsistent at Charlotte in his career. With the length of this race we favor the big teams like Roush-Fenway and their ability to produce better quality engines (please ignore last week’s All Star Race). He should finish right near the top 10 finish this visit.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski brought a rocket to the All Star race last weekend. We look for him to be fast on Sunday as well.
11 to 20
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne won the All Star Challenge and the Coca-Cola 600 at CMS in 2008. He will be fast again.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior has finished in the top 11 in eight of his last 15 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. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman has nine poles in 21 career starts at CMS. He should qualify strong and a top 20 finish is expected.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray was one of the fastest cars on the track at Charlotte in three of the past four races. He is worth using in all leagues.
No. 55 Mark Martin: Martin has 18 top five finishes during his career at CMS. He crashed during the All Star race and the 600 last season, but is still worth sneaking onto your roster.
No. 51 Kurt Busch: Busch was awesome at CMS the past two spring races, but that was then this is now. He will be doing great with a top 15 finish.
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. 22 A.J. Allmendinger: A.J. has finished in the top 20 in five of his 10 career starts at CMS. He will miss the top 20 again this weekend.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has brought just three great cars to CMS in 11 career starts. He is more of a top 20 driver this weekend than a top 15 driver.
21 to 30
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose is just a fair-to-middlin’ pick this weekend. He won’t come close to matching the fifth place finish he had last fall at the track.
No. 78 Regan Smith: Smith has averaged an 18th place finish at CMS. Furniture Row has rarely looked better.
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. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has two top 10 finishes in 13 career starts at CMS. He will be doing well to crack the top 20 on Sunday.
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. 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. 21 Trevor Bayne: Bayne has driven better at Charlotte than his results indicate. He is a decent sleeper.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has averaged a 22nd place finish at CMS in his career. But he had significantly better cars than he is riding around in now.
No. 10 Danica Patrick: Patrick will do better at Charlotte and she did at Darlington, but she still isn’t worth using.
No. 93 Travis Kvapil: Travis K will be doing well to crack the top 30 on Sunday.
No. 43 Aric Almirola
No. 34 David Ragan
No. 83 Landon Cassill
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 73 David Reutimann
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 95 Scott Speed
No. 32 T.J. Bell
No. 23 Scott Riggs
No. 49 J.J. Yeley
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 33 Stephen Leicht
No. 19 Mike Bliss
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 26 Josh Wise
No. 74 Cole Whitt
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kyle Busch
3. Carl Edwards
4. Joey Logano
1. Joey Logano
2. Jamie McMurray
Bust of the Week: