The All-Star race is in the books and now we can get back to points racing and our fantasy leagues. We didn’t learn anything from the All-Star race seeing they won’t be using the restrictor plates or the bigger spoilers this week, but we did see that Kevin Harvick is still winning. If this trend keeps up, NASCAR will try to implement some rules to even up the field and make the races a little more exciting.
Anyway, the series stays at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the running of the longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600. Once again we are on an intermediate track that has been dominated by a few drivers this year, but none more than Kevin Harvick. The biggest challenge for all of the teams this weekend will be the changing track conditions during this long race that starts out during the afternoon and concludes well after dark. That means the track is going to go through some major changes from the start to the finish of the race and you will see a lot of comers and goers throughout the race.
Kevin Harvick: You almost have to have him on your roster once again this weekend. This team has shown that they can be fast in qualifying, at the beginning of a race, and at the end of a race all season long. They also seem to make their car faster and faster as the day goes on and Kevin has shown he can also overcome adversity and still make runs at the end of the race to take a late lead and hold on for the win. Look for him to be fast all day long.
Martin Truex Jr.: Let’s not forget what Martin has done here the last three seasons. In that time he has finished in the top five five times in six races, won two of those races, led 847 laps, and dominated the 600 in 2016 when he led all but eight laps in that race. This is the driver and team that has the best chance to break the winning streak of Kevin Harvick this weekend and gain himself some valuable playoff points.
Denny Hamlin: Denny has finished in the top five in four of his last five starts at this track. He still scares me because of all the pit road speeding penalties he gets, which puts him in a position where he is constantly fighting to get a lap back. There is absolutely no reason for him to continually make the same mistake which costs his team time and time again. So put him on your roster at your own risk.
Kurt Busch: Kurt has five top ten finishes in his last six starts at this track and has shown that he has the same speed as his teammate, Kevin Harvick, this year. Kurt should do well once again this weekend, but I am going to save his starts for the short tracks and possibly the road course races. No matter which way you go, you will use up all of Kurt’s starts by the end of the season.
Ryan Newman: Ryan is my dark horse this week. He has finished in the top ten in four of his last five starts in the Coca-Cola 600. Those are very impressive numbers for a driver you don’t hear a lot about on a weekly basis. I think this team thrives during this long race and makes the right decisions throughout the race to gain track position and make the right adjustments to their car to keep up with the changing track conditions.
Erik Jones: Erik has only run two races at this track in the Cup series and finished seventh in this race last year. This is the type of track where young Erik has thrived in his short career and I think he will do well once again this weekend. I think the main thing the younger drivers need to understand is that this is a long race and it doesn’t pay to take chances early in this race or worry too much about how fast your car is early on. I think Erik has the patience it takes to do well in this race.
Kyle Busch: Kyle finished second in this race last year and is one of the only other drivers who has shown he has anything for Harvick so far this season. Sometimes Kyle gets frustrated early on in races if his car isn’t handling as good as he wants it to and he needs to realize there will be plenty of time for his crew to make adjustments to the car and have him in a position where he can compete for the win late in the race.
Daniel Suarez: Daniel ran his only two races here last year and seems to like this track. He finished eleventh and sixth in those races last year and then followed it up by almost winning the All-Star race this past weekend. Granted that was a whole different type of race then we are going to see this weekend, but it seems like no matter what kind of setup he has, he likes to race on this track and knows how to get towards the front of the field.
Joey Logano: Joey has one win at this track and although that came in a shorter fall race, this team has shown that they have the speed that it takes to win races this season and Joey has run much better than he did last year. The Ford drivers have all shown a lot of speed for the most part this year and I think if his crew chief can keep up with the changing track conditions, Joey can stay in contention for the win once again this weekend.
Brad Keselowski: Let’s talk about Joey’s teammate and another driver who has won a fall race here. I think that Brad and his team have the patience and aren’t afraid to try different things early in this race to see what might work for them at the end of the race. They won’t be terribly concerned with an ill handling car early in the race and will be willing to take chances to go outside the box to gain track position or see if two tires might work late in the race. It is this type of strategy that could get him a win this weekend.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Kevin Harvick
- Martin Truex Jr.
Driver Group Game Group B
- Daniel Suarez
- Erik Jones
- Austin Dillon
- Ryan Newman
Driver Group Game Group C
- Darrell Wallace Jr.
- Chris Buescher
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
- Kevin Harvick
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
- Kurt Busch
- Brad Keselowski
Dark Horse: Ryan Newman
Stay Away From: Ryan Blaney
Big 18: Martin Truex Jr.