Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Mid-Pack: Bank of America 500

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Track history: Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner built the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1959. On June 19, 1960, the first World 600 was held at the Concord, NC track. Over the years, thousands of grandstand seats and luxury suites were added. In 1984, Charlotte added 40 condominiums above turn one, and 12 more in 1991, offering year-round living at a modern racing facility. In 1992, at a cost of $1.7 million, a 1,200-fixture MUSCO lighting system was added. This system uses mirrors to simulate daylight without glare or light poles. Charlotte became the first superspeedway to hold a night-time auto race. A $1 million 20,000 square-foot Cup garage was opened in 1994. Besides the 1.5-mile quad oval, Charlotte has a 2.25-mile road course, a karting layout in the infield, a quarter-mile and fifth-mile layouts as well. Across the U.S. 29, a .4 mile dirt track opened in 2000 and the four-lane zMax Dragway opened in 2008.

In 2011, CMS unveiled the world’s largest video screen. It measures 80 by 200 foot and weighs 165,000 pounds.

June 19, 1960: After driving the John Hines owned No. 22 Pontiac to a 133.904 mph qualifying lap, Fireball Roberts started on the pole for the first NASCAR Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the 1960 World 600. After leading the first 191 laps of the 400 lap event, Roberts crashed and placed 35th. Joe Lee Johnson, in Paul McDuffie’s No. 89 Chevrolet, started 20th and won the race in front of 35,462 fans. The average race speed for that event was 107.735 mph.

October 15, 2011: Matt Kenseth won the Bank of America 500 from a second place start. It was the No. 17 Ford driver’s third victory in 2011 and his second at Charlotte. Drivers leading 10 or more laps: Kenseth (46 laps), No. 16 Greg Biffle 68 laps, finished 15th; Pole-sitter No. 14 Tony Stewart 94 laps, finished eighth and No. 18 Kyle Busch led the most laps (111 of 334, finished 25th).

May 27, 2012: Kasey Kahne won the Coca-Cola 600 from a seventh place start. It was the No. 5 Chevrolet driver's first victory and sixth top-10 finish in 2012 and his fourth victory (third Coca-Cola 600) and ninth top-10 finish in 17 races at Charlotte. Drivers leading 10 or more laps: No. 11 Denny Hamlin 13 laps, finished second; No. 9 Marcos Ambrose 20 laps, finished 32nd; No. 18 Kyle Busch 55 laps, finished third; Winner Kahne 96 laps and No. 16 Greg Biffle led the most laps (204 of 400) and finished fourth. Pole-sitter No. 43 Aric Almirola led three laps and finished 16th.

Track Quick Facts (courtesy NASCAR Media):
Last five winners:
Kasey Kahne 5/27/12, Matt Kenseth 10/15/11, Kevin Harvick 5/29/11, Jamie McMurray 10/16/10 and Kurt Busch 5/30/10.
First Cup start here (Active drivers): Michael Waltrip 5/26/85, Kevin Lepage 10/5/97, Elliott Sadler 5/24/98, Kale Earnhardt Jr. 5/30/99, Jimmie Johnson 10/7/01, Brian Vickers 10/11/03, David Reutimann 10/15/05 and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 5/11/11.
First Cup pole: Jeff Gordon 10/10/93, Derrike Cope 10/4/98, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5/28/00, Ryan Newman 5/27/01 and Aric Almirola 5/27/12.
First Cup win: Jeff Gordon 5/29/94, Bobby Labonte 5/28/95, Matt Kenseth 5/28/00, Jamie McMurray 10/13/02, Casey Mears 5/27/07 and David Reutimann 5/25/09.

Fantasy games won’t allow you to pick all track favorites so Mid-Pack Attack is here to help. A mid-packer may not win the race but has as good a shot at a top 15 finish as track favorites Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth.  There were 47 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s Cup race. Here are our picks for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 in Concord, North Carolina.

Mid-Pack picks
Unfortunately, our top pick this week comes as a result of another driver’s misfortune. Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a concussion in last weekend’s last lap multi-car wreck at Talladega and will be out for the next two races. Regan Smith, who was just replaced in the Furniture Row Racing car, will take the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet for those races. Smith has an okay average finish of 17.7 in seven starts at Charlotte. We think, with the championship level No. 88 team behind him, he has his best chance to improve on that average this weekend.

Aric Almirola is pumped as he returns to the site of his first career pole in his first Cup start at CMS. He hopes to repeat and improve on his 16th place finish in the May 2012 600-miler. Crew Chief Todd Parrott said: “We've made a lot more gains with our mile-and-a-half program since then, and Aric has learned a lot more.” Also, in seven Nationwide Series starts at Charlotte, Almirola carries a 13.1 average finish. He had finishes of ninth and seventh in his two Camping World Truck Series starts at this track. Give the No. 43 Ford some consideration this week.

Another ripple effect of Junior’s medical issue is a replacement driver for Smith in the No. 51 Chevrolet he was to drive on Saturday night. AJ Allmendinger got the call this morning (Thursday) to drive the car. This will be AJ’s first start since he was suspended in July for failing a substance abuse test. NASCAR has since reinstated him after he completed the “Road to Recovery” program. Allmendinger scored top 10s in two of his last three Charlotte starts. With such short notice, lack of recent driving and the level of equipment at Phoenix Racing we don’t expect a top 10 but a 20th or better is not out of the question.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will be making noise full-time in 2013 and should be looked at when Roush Fenway Racing puts him in the lineup this season. Stenhouse has one Cup start here (May 2011) in which he started ninth and finished 11th. It was also his Cup Series debut. He has a pole and top-10s in two of his last three Nationwide Series starts at Charlotte. He’s a bit of a gamble since the team has to qualify on time to get into the event. If the No. 6 Ford makes the cut, find a spot on your fantasy roster for next season’s Rookie of the Year contender.

Tony Ballantoni runs the NASCAR coverage at
Email :Anthony Ballantoni

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