Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Mid-Pack: Bank of America 500

Thursday, October 10, 2013

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 13, 2012: Clint Bowyer (15 Toyota) won the Bank of America 500, his eighth victory in 248 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. It was his third victory in 2012 and his first at Charlotte. Drivers leading 10 or more of the 334 lap event: Race-winner Bowyer led 29 laps; No. 11 Denny Hamlin 36 laps, finished second; No. 48 Jimmie Johnson 53 laps, finished third; Pole-sitter No. 16 Greg Biffle 71 laps, finished fourth and No. 2 Brad Keselowski led the most laps (139) and finished 11th.
May 26, 2013: Kevin Harvick (29 Chevrolet) won the Coca-Cola 600, his second victory and fourth top-10 finish in 2013. This was his second victory and eighth top-10 finish in 25 races at Charlotte. Pole-sitter No. 11 Denny Hamlin led six laps and finished in fourth place. Drivers leading 10 or more the 400 lap event: Race-winner Harvick led 28 laps; No. 18 Kyle Busch 65 laps, engine failure after 257 laps (credited with a 38th place); No. 20 Matt Kenseth 112 laps, finished 15th and No. 5 Kasey Kahne led the most laps (161) and finished in second place.

Track Quick Facts (courtesy NASCAR Media):
Last five winners:
Kevin Harvick 5/26/13, Clint Bowyer 10/13/12, Kasey Kahne 5/27/12, Matt Kenseth 10/15/11 and Kevin Harvick 5/29/11.
First Cup start here (Active drivers): Michael Waltrip 5/26/85, Kevin Lepage 10/5/97, Elliott Sadler 5/24/98, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5/30/99, Jimmie Johnson 10/7/01, Brian Vickers 10/11/03, David Reutimann 10/15/05 and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 5/29/11.
(Blake Koch, Kyle Larson and Brian Scott will debut in Cup at Charlotte on 10/12/13). 
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 20 finish as track favorites Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth.  There were 43 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

In 16 starts at the Concord, North Carolina track, Denny Hamlin has a 13.3 average start (7th-best of drivers entered this weekend), a 13.5 average finish (5th-best), finished on the lead lap 82% (series best) and finished in the top-10 in 56% of his races (6th-best). He has six-straight top-10 finishes in his most recent Charlotte races including a pair of runner-ups and a fourth in the last three. In the last event at Charlotte, the Coke 600 in May 2013, Hamlin was just starting his second full race after missing six due to the injury at Fontana. He set the track qualifying record on his way to a fourth place finish. Hamlin's 2013 season is far from stellar but at Charlotte, we think he has a good chance of bringing the No. 11 Toyota Camry home somewhere in the top-20 (more likely the top-15). 

We liked Rookie of the Year candidate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the Coca-Cola 600 in May and he came through with a 14th place finish. That was his second start in the 600-miler. The Wood Brothers put him in their famous No. 21 Ford in the 2011 event; he started ninth and finished in 11th place. He also scored three top-10 finishes in his last four Nationwide Series starts at Charlotte. Stenhouse hasn't officially clinched the 2013 ROTY title yet but it looks like an almost sure-thing at this point. He finished in the top 20 in seven of the last nine Sprint Cup races. The No. 17 Ford Fusion driver should be counted on for another one on Saturday night.

Our last two sleepers this week are risky picks since both drivers are making their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debuts this weekend. First, we have Kyle Larson in the Phoenix Racing No. 51 Chevrolet who only has one previous start at CMS. He started 18th in the May 2013 Nationwide Series race and finished in fourth place. This is his first full-time season in the NNS and is ninth in series points with 15 top-10 finishes in 29 starts. He also has two starts this season in the Camping World Truck Series with one win at Rockingham Speedway and a second-place finish in the inaugural Eldora Speedway dirt track race. Next, we have Brian Scott in the Richard Childress Racing prepared No. 33 Chevrolet. Scott, seventh in the Nationwide Series standings, has been here before in other series. He has two Camping World Truck Series starts with a best finish of 21st place. Scott's NNS numbers at the track are a little more positive. In seven CMS races, he holds an average start of 10.0 and an average finish of 18.3 which includes three top 10s and one top five. Take your pick, or pick them both, they're risky but could prove to make you look really smart in your fantasy league.

Tony Ballantoni runs the NASCAR coverage at
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