The NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup reaches its half-way point with race number five Saturday (10/13) at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Which Chase drivers have good odds of winning the Bank Of America 500?
The NASCAR Sprint Cup teams in the Chase will be looking to get maximum points every race of the final six in the 2012 season. The drivers will have the opportunity to either shine or fail at Charlotte under the lights Saturday night. Good handling and plenty of power under the hood will be required on the one-and-a-half mile quad-oval track where three and four wide racing happens often. The pit crews will need to be on top of their game as well to avoid making mistakes that cost their drivers time on the track.
Hendrick Motorsports had some disheartening news when one of their four teams in the Chase has been essentially eliminated from any chance of winning the championship. Due to a concussion suffered in last week’s race at Talladega, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be out of the #88 car this week and next week. However, Hedrick still has a very good chance at capturing a win this week in Charlotte as their other three drivers have combined to win a total of 22 times in Sprint Cup action.
Jimmie Johnson leads the pack of Chase drivers in wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jimmie has won six Sprint Cup point races and three Sprint Cup All-Star races at the track. In fact, Jimmie won the 2012 All-Star race back in May. Jimmie’s Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon is next in line for wins among Chase drivers with five point races and three All-Star races. The final Hendrick team in the Chase isn’t far behind its teammates in wins at Charlotte. Kasey Kahne has won four point races and one All-Star race at the track. Kasey’s latest win at Charlotte came in the first points race this year in May. It’s obvious that the Hendrick teams know how to get around the track and increases the odds that one of them will be in Victory Lane Saturday night.
Matt Kenseth has two point race wins and a single All-Star race win at Charlotte. Matt is the defending winner of the 2011 Bank Of America 500 at Charlotte. He is currently in 12th place in the points so picking up back-to-back October wins at Charlotte would be moving in the right direction to keep his championship hopes alive.
The only other two Chase drivers who have points race wins in the Sprint Cup series at Charlotte are Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick. Tony has an All-Star win and Sprint Showdown win to go with his point race win at the track. Kevin also has an All-Star race win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Will one of these drivers be able to get point race win number two this week?
Martin Truex Jr. has won two Sprint Showdown races at Charlotte although a win in a points race or All-Star race has eluded him. Will Saturday night be the night he gets that first win outside of the Sprint Showdown races?
Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, and Greg Biffle are the other Chase drivers. None of these drivers have won any kind of Sprint Cup race at Charlotte. With NASCAR’s “playoffs” reaching its hal-way point in the Bank Of America 500, this would be a very opportunistic time for any of these drivers to get that first win at Charlotte. Of course in order to that they won’t have to only beat the other Chase drivers but also the non-Chase drivers who are only racing for the win. It will take all the teams and drivers have to be the car in the post-race burnout pictures.
You can catch all of the action of the Bank Of America 500 on out sister station WJBC FM, 93.7, Saturday night, October 13th starting at 5:30 p.m. central time.
By: Buck Stevens