We are now a third of the way through the season as we just took a break from points racing for the All-Star race this past weekend. We have had six different winners so far who have locked themselves into the playoffs and the next race will mark the halfway point of the regular season schedule. In my opinion the new aero package has made for some pretty boring racing to this point. There have been multiple races where there are only five or less drivers within ten seconds of the winner.
This week the series will remain in North Carolina at the Charlotte Motor Speedway where the All-Star race was held last weekend. This is the longest race of the year and there will be a lot of changes to the track as the race moves from the afternoon hours into the evening. The crew chiefs are going to have to be on top of their game the whole day to keep up with these changing track conditions. Cars that aren’t handling well early in the race might be the cars to beat at the end.
Kyle Busch: Kyle sat on the pole and won this race last year and I am predicting that he will do it again. Well, maybe he won’t win the pole, but he will win the race. He has lead more laps than any other driver over his last three starts at his track and has been really good all season with three wins in the book already. Patience will be the name of the game for Kyle this week.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin has been good on these tracks this season also. He seems to struggle a bit in qualifying and practice, but by the end of the race he usually has one of the fastest cars on the track. He has finished in the top five in six of his last seven starts at Charlotte and won twice in that span. I think he and Kyle could be the two battling for the win at the end of this one.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin has six top three finishes in his last eleven starts at this track. Once again it isn’t the speed that has kept this team out of victory lane so far this season, but poor work in the pits. That is where they need to focus and it will be very important this week as there will be extra pit stops in this long race. With it being so hard to pass this season you can’t afford to lose spots in the pits.
Denny Hamlin: Denny has been very good here lately himself with five top five finishes in his last six starts and eight top five finishes in his last thirteen races at Charlotte. Denny always seems to be patient and that will really pay off for him in this long race as the crew will make multiple adjustments to his car as the track changes.
Kyle Larson: Kyle won the All-Star race last weekend. This team has run into some bad luck this season and Kyle will just need to be patient this weekend. I think the track will come to him as the race progresses and you will see Kyle using the high line to make gains on the rest of the field. Being mistake free in the pits will be important for this team too.
Kurt Busch: Kurt has six top ten finishes to his last seven starts at Charlotte and has been very good all year on his new team. This is going to be a telling race for this team to see if they can keep improving on Kurt’s car throughout the race and give Kurt a shot at the win in the late stages of this week’s race. I think this team will win at least one race this year.
Joey Logano: Although Joey hasn’t finished in the top twenty in his last four starts at this track, this team has been very good all year. He led 227 laps in winning the fall race here back in 2015, so we know he can get the job done at this track. In fact, if we throw out his last four starts here, Joey has finished in the top ten in nine of his fifteen starts from the beginning of his career. I think this team will be a contender this weekend.
Daniel Suarez: Daniel has finished in the top fifteen in each of his three starts at this track. He has been pretty impressive in his first year with Stewart-Haas Racing and he is a dark horse this week. This is the type of race where strategy can play a big part in who wins and who doesn’t.
Brad Keselowski: Brad has finished in the top ten in seven of his last ten starts at Charlotte. The Penske teams have all been fast the entire year and we know that Paul Wolfe isn’t afraid to make call on pit road to get Brad track position if he needs it. He really isn’t afraid to make some different calls now that they are already in the playoffs. Wins and stage wins are all that matter to this team now.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie used to be a no brainer when it came to this track, but times have really changed for this team. This season the only intermediate track where Jimmie ran well was at Texas. I just don’t have any confidence in this team right now and if fact, I am going to have Jimmie as my stay away from driver this week.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Kyle Busch
- Martin Truex Jr.
Driver Group Game Group B
- Denny Hamlin
- Kurt Busch
- Daniel Suarez
- Alex Bowman
Driver Group Game Group C
- Chris Buescher
- Matt DiBenedetto
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
- Kyle Busch
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
- Kevin Harvick
- Brad Keselowski
Dark Horse: Daniel Suarez
Stay Away From: Jimmie Johnson
Big 18: Aric Almirola