Congratulations to Kyle Busch who won his second straight playoff race and gained some more valuable playoff points on leader Martin Truex Jr. Chase Elliott held the lead for most of the final segment of the race, but Busch closed from over four-seconds back by running a higher line and taking advantage of Chase being held up by traffic and passed Chase with just over one-lap left in the race.
The drivers eliminated from the playoffs are Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, and Ryan Newman. The rest of the drivers will have their playoff points reset and start all over to determine the eight drivers who will move to the third round after the next three races. This round also features a restrictor plate track which is anybodies guess as to what happens then. So, everyone will be fighting for every position they can this coming week to try and pick up a win so they don’t have to worry about the unknown at Talladega.
BANK OF AMERICA 500
The series heads back to the Charlotte Motor Speedway this week for the running of the Bank of America 500. Charlotte is another of the mile-and-a-half tracks that dominate the playoffs. Next year they will be using the road course in this race to add even more drama to the playoffs, but for this season they will run on the quad-oval track just like they have in the past.
Martin Truex Jr.: You have to stick with Martin this week at Charlotte. He has finished in the top five here in four of his last five starts including a win in a dominating performance in last years Coca-Cola 600. He has also led over 500 laps more than any other driver in the series over those past five races. I look for him to come out strong, get to the lead if he doesn’t win the pole and stay out in front throughout the race once again this weekend and win the opening race of the second round.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie leads all active drivers with eight wins at this track. He looked pretty good at Dover last weekend coming home with a third place finish and building a little momentum heading into the second round. This team knows they need to find some more speed to compete with the likes of Martin and Kyle, but we have seen them do just this time and time again as they were winning all of their championships. I think they are improved, but I don’t think they are quite good enough just yet.
Kyle Busch: Kyle is still looking for his first career win at Charlotte after running twenty-seven races here in the Cup series. He has led just under one-thousand laps here though and come away with eleven top five and sixteen top ten finishes including a runner-up finish in the Coca-Cola 600 this season. I think the playoffs and the battle for the championship are going to come down to Kyle, Martin, and Kyle Larson as they seem to be the three most consistent drivers this season.
Chase Elliott: So close once again for this team could do two things. It could really disappoint them, or it could make them even hungrier. I think they are just going to use the race at Dover as a momentum builder and be even hungrier now than they were before. I said it before and I will say it again. I think this team gets their first win before the end of the season. Wouldn’t it be something if it came at Homestead and brought them a championship?
Matt Kenseth: Matt is a two time winner at Charlotte over his career and he knows he is going to have to win some races during the playoffs is he is going to win a championship because he just doesn’t have enough playoff points to compete and move along on just points as we keep advancing. This is a good track for Matt and the Joe Gibbs teams have shown a bit more speed in the second half of the season. This should be one of his better tracks to try and pick up a win at in this round.
Kyle Larson: Although he has only run eight races at this track in his young career and only has one top five and two top ten finishes here, we can throw all of that out the door. Kyle has shown that he has a car that can compete most every week and he has run better at every track this year than he has earlier in his career. His two victories at Michigan this year tell us that they should be good on this intermediate track and I look for him to qualify well and run towards the front of the track all day again.
Denny Hamlin: Denny is another driver we might not think much about at this track, but his record tells us otherwise. In his last fourteen starts here, Denny has only finished outside the top ten twice and seven of those finishes were top five’s. After having a mechanical issue late in the race at Dover last week this team will be chomping at the bit to get back on the track and see what they can do in the second round of the playoffs.
Kurt Busch: Even though he got knocked out of the playoffs, there is no reason not to look at how Kurt runs here. He is the only driver to finish in the top ten at Charlotte in the last five races. His lone win came back in 2010 in the Coca-Cola 600, but his consistency here is something to look at. Kurt is still auditioning for a ride for next season and a win here in the playoffs could go a long way towards getting him a job, maybe even resigning with Stewart-Haas, but probably unlikely.
Kevin Harvick: Let’s not forget about Kevin yet. Even though they haven’t been running as well as they think they should, this team still has the tools to get the job done and win another championship. Kevin already has three wins at this track, including five finishes in the top two in his last nine starts. He has also sat on the pole for the last two races here. I think this team could break out at any time and go on a roll for the rest of the season.
Brad Keselowski: Despite having a win and six top ten finishes in his last eight races at Charlotte, this team doesn’t seem to have the speed they had earlier in the season when the Ford’s were dominating most of the races on the longer tracks. It seems that after Joey Logano got his encumbered win at the spring Richmond race all of the Ford teams have taken a hit on speed. I don’t think it has anything to do with the penalty. More than likely the other teams found more speed themselves and leveled the playing field a little bit.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Jimmie Johnson
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Chase Elliott
- Kyle Larson
- Kurt Busch
- Ryan Blaney
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Erik Jones
- Daniel Suarez
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
- Matt Kenseth
Dark Horse: Erik Jones
Stay Away From: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Big 18: Martin Truex Jr.