Talladega turned out to be the crapshoot that I thought it could be with only 5 of the Chaser’s finishing on the lead lap. The other 7 Chaser’s were caught up in various crashes throughout the race with Carl Edwards causing the one that took most of the Chaser’s out of contention.
Jimmie Johnson made it through all of the messes and laid back late in the race to make sure that he came away with a top 10 finish and a large lead in the point standings. Jimmie now has a 72 point lead over Carl Edwards, 77 over Greg Biffle and 99 over Jeff Burton with the rest of the Chaser’s over 100 points behind him.
This week we head to Jimmie’s “home” track, the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. It’s hard to pick against Jimmie at a place where he has won 5 times already during his short career. Jimmie has 11 top 10 finishes in 14 starts at Lowe’s including the 5 wins and 2 runner-up finishes.
Kasey Kahne has won 3 of the last 5 races at Lowe’s. So, between Kasey and Jimmie they have won 8 of the last 11 races here. This seems to be the one track that Kasey and his team have a handle on every time that they come here now. Expect him to give Jimmie another run for his money this weekend.
Carl Edwards is another of the more consistent drivers here. Carl has never won here in a Cup car but he has 6 top 10 finishes in 7 starts at Lowe’s. Carl will need to repeat this performance this weekend to maintain the distance between himself and Johnson.
Jeff Burton has done very well in Charlotte over the past few seasons and avoided all of the mayhem last week at Talladega to keep himself very close to front-runners. Jeff has 4 top 10 finishes in his last 5 Lowe’s starts and is very patient when it comes to 500-mile races. He is content to sit back and ride for the first ¾ of the race before bringing what he has to the front.
Tony Stewart got his first win of the season last weekend and has one of the wins here that Jimmie and Kasey don’t have in the last 11 races. Tony used to be very good here until he took a very hard hit during tire testing a few years ago. After that time Tony was a little hesitant here but now that it has been repaved he has been coming back a bit.
Greg Biffle also took a hard lick here the same year that Tony did but came back to finish 2nd here this spring during the Coca-Cola 600. Greg has been phenomenal during the Chase so far and will need to post another top 10 finish this weekend to keep pace with Jimmie after he was wrecked at Talladega last week.
Jeff Gordon won this race last fall and followed it up with a 4th place finish this spring. The mile and a half tracks are still not Jeff’s strong suit and if he is going to win another championship in the coming years his team is really going to have to turn this part of their program around.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has 3 top 10 finishes in his last 4 Lowe’s starts. This team has really struggled with consistency all year and I believe that there are going to be big changes made within this team before next season. Namely removing Tony Eury Jr. form his crew-chief duties.
Kyle Busch has had nothing but bad luck since the Chase started. All he can do right now is try to win as many races as he can over the next 6 weeks and let the chips fall where they might. Kyle struggled here when he first came into the series but has finished 3rd in his last 2 starts here. This could be the weekend that he heads back to victory lane.
Yahoo Picks for Charlotte
Jimmie Johnson (starter)
Kasey Kahne (starter)
Mark Martin (starter)
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
David Reutimann (starter)
Top 5 Overall at Charlotte
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kasey Kahne
3. Carl Edwards
4. Kyle Busch
5. Jeff Burton
Dark Horse: Elliott Sadler
Stay Away From: Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick
As always you can Email me with any questions, comments or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck once again this weekend!