After taking a week off from the regular season’s racing to run the All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway the series will be back for the longest race of the season. If Saturday night’s race is any indication of what the fans can expect to see this weekend, it won’t be pretty.
Passing was difficult to say the least and whoever got out front stayed there and extended their lead on the field. That means that this weekend you will see teams trying to win on pit strategy to get themselves out at the front of the field and take advantage of the track position they can make up on pit road. Watching a 600-mile race like this will be like watching paint dry so be prepared for a long night if you plan on watching this race.
Hopefully I am wrong about what will happen this weekend, but I don’t know what NASCAR can do in the next week to change the way the the track races. So, I believe qualifying will be very important along with flawless pit stops all through the race. You will probably see teams trying to win on gas mileage and two-tire stops just to try and get their cars to the front of the pack. I can only hope I am wrong because I plan on watching the race and hope I can come away entertained at the end of the night.
Martin Truex Jr.: After the dominating performance he put on in this race last year and having just won the race in Kansas two-weeks ago, I am going to go with Martin to win this race once again this year. The team has really fast cars on the intermediate tracks and once they are in front they are going to be tough to pass. I think the pit crew on this team is good enough to consistently get the job done and keep Martin out front once he is there.
Kyle Larson: Kyle was by far the class of the field in the All-Star race this past weekend and will be the favorite in many peoples minds heading into this weekend’s race. I’m just not sure his pit crew is consistent enough to make it through an entire 600-mile race without making any mistakes right now. I think he will qualify well and run in the top ten most of the race, but he might have a slow pit stop somewhere along the line which will cost him too much track position to get the win.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie picked up his eighth win at this track last fall which leads all active drivers at this track. He got his car into position late in the All-Star race last week where he had a shot at getting that win and Chad Knaus is no slouch when it comes to making the right call on top of the pit box to give Jimmie a chance at the end of races. He could be the difference maker this weekend.
Denny Hamlin: Denny probably has the most consistent pit crew of all of the teams. If he can stay away from speeding penalties they might be able to pass enough cars in the pits this weekend to put him in position to win this race. He is on a roll at this track finishing in the top ten in eleven of his last thirteen starts here. I look for him to be a contender late in this race.
Brad Keselowski: Brad is another driver with a great crew-chief who always seems to make the right call at the right time for Brad. Paul Wolfe really works well with Brad and understands what abilities his driver has, so he knows exactly what he needs to do with a car to give Brad a chance late in the race. With the speed the Ford’s have shown this year a little pit strategy and some speed might be all it takes to get this car out fast on a late race restart and claim the victory.
Kyle Busch: When we talk about restarts, Kyle is the master. He always passes a handful of cars on each and every restart in a race and this is how he claimed his first All-Star race win this past weekend. If he can stay close to the front of the pack throughout this long race and gets the cautions to fall at the right time he can steal away his first points win at this track.
Kevin Harvick: Talking about being consistent and on a roll at this track lately we need to talk about Kevin Harvick. Kevin has finished in the top two in five of his last eight starts at this track and also has Ford power under his hood this year. He is patient which really helps in this long race that starts when the sun is shining and ends under the lights, which means big changes in the track from the start of the race to the end. Kevin will be a contender at the end of this race once again.
Kurt Busch: A teammate of Kevin’s with more Ford power under his hood, Kurt is looking for his second career win at this track. He has finished in the top ten in his last four start here so we know he can get the job done here. He came away with a top five finish in the All-Star race which will give them some confidence heading into this weekend’s race. Could be a small surprise winner if he can maintain his composure early in the race when his car isn’t at it’s best yet.
Matt Kenseth: Matt has always run consistently well at this track himself and is one of the most patient drivers on the circuit today. Patience is at a premium in a race this long and Matt just needs to keep relaying information to his crew so they can make the correct adjustments for him as the race progresses and the track conditions change. If they can stay away from bad luck on the track they will have a shot at the end of this race.
Joey Logano: I think Joey is on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to patience on the track. He has run well here and won the fall race in 2015 here. He has some very good finishes in this race, but I think he takes too many chances early in this long race which puts him in peril or doesn’t sit well with other drivers on the track who might do something about it later in this race. Yet, with the speed the Ford’s have shown this year and how hard it could be to pass other cars this weekend, Joey has a great shot at getting out front and staying there.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kevin Harvick
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Kyle Larson
- Kurt Busch
- Ryan Newman
- Jamie McMurray
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Erik Jones
- Regan Smith or whoever is entered in the #43 car this week in place of Aric Almirola
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kyle Larson
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
- Jimmie Johnson
Dark Horse: Kurt Busch
Stay Away From: Ryan Blaney
Big 18: Martin Truex Jr.