NASCAR Picks: Bank of America 500 at Charlotte

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Elimination Sunday has come and gone so now the 12 drivers that have moved on to the second round of the playoffs will concentrate on hanging around a little longer. Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch just didn’t have enough in their cars to move on to the second round.

We start this round of playoffs at Charlotte Motor Speedway where the drivers will take to the one and a half mile track to run the 58th Annual Bank of America 500. Hopefully the weather will cooperate as it looks like the teams will have to rely on the first practice and their past notes to get the edge on the competition this weekend.

Thunderstorms are in the forecast so hopefully they can get this one in. For the lucky 12 drivers that have advanced, they will start with 3,000 points plus the bonus points that they have accrued added to their total. If we assume the race will be run in its entirety it will take the winning driver at least 334 laps to take the checkered flag. Let’s take a look at how the top 12 will stack up moving into the second round of the playoffs.

  1. Martin Truex Jr. (3,059 points)
  2. Kyle Busch (3,041 points)
  3. Kyle Larson (3,034 points)
  4. Brad Keselowski (3,020 points)
  5. Jimmie Johnson (3,017 points)
  6. Kevin Harvick (3,015 points)
  7. Denny Hamlin (3,013 points)
  8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (3,010 points)
  9. Ryan Blaney (3,008 points)
  10. Chase Elliott (3,006 points)
  11. Matt Kenseth (3,005 points)
  12. Jamie McMurray (3,003 points)

 

Right off the bat we find Martin Truex Jr. ($10,900) not only at the top of the heap he also is the highest salaried driver as well as being the odds on favorite in Vegas at 5-2. The driver of the #78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota has been on top all year and there’s no reason to think he won’t be in the mix again this week. Truex has finished in the top 5 four times in his last five starts here in Charlotte so I don’t think I’d let the fact that he will start 17th on Sunday to hinder my thinking of rostering him.

Kyle Busch ($10,600) is the second highest salary on the board as he looks to reel in the leader over the next three races. It is awfully tough to roster both of the top drivers without taking some really low priced drivers but it can be done. The driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota will start fourth when the green flag drops on Sunday. Busch has won three of the last six races this season including taking the checkered flag in the last two. It’s obvious that his team is running on all cylinders and should be a force to be reckoned with.

Kyle Larson ($10,400) has run extremely well in the last four races as evidence of racking up four straight top five finishes over the past month. The driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet was the fastest car in practice and ran a few good laps which was good enough to place him 10th on the starting grid for the 58th Annual Bank of America 500. Larson has matured immensely this season which is why he is just 25 points away from being the top dog in the standings.

DraftKings seems to have the pricing right this weekend as Kevin Harvick ($10,200) is listed fourth in terms of salary for this weekend’s contest. In his last nine races here at Charlotte the driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Ford has racked up eight top 10 finishes with his only blemish coming last year when he crashed out and finished in 38th place. Harvick is in the thick of the Championship hunt so I would expect a good outing from him here as he will start from the third spot on the grid.

Denny Hamin ($9,200) is the only other driver to tally eight top 10 finishes over the last 10 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hamlin sits in sixth place in the standings and certainly has a fast car as he put the # 11 FedEx Office Ford on the pole for the 58th Annual bank of America 500. Before his bad finish last weekend Hamlin was able to notch four top five finishes in the previous five races this season. Look for him to jump out and lead a few laps as he finishes in the top 10.

Matt Kenseth ($8,800) seems to run well here as his three top five finishes in the last five races will attest to. Kenseth snuck into the top 12 in points last week end and will start this three race playoff segment 54 points away from the lead. The driver of the #20 Tide Pods Toyota will need to keep it on the straight and narrow today if he has any shot of winning the championship. Kenseth will start on the outside pole for Sunday’s race.

Erik Jones ($7,900) will more than likely be one of the higher owned drivers as he did not take a qualifying lap which has rendered him the 38th starting position for Sunday’srace. The driver of the #77 5-hour Energy Extra Strength Toyota has put together a nice string of finishes of late as he has finished 12th or higher in eight of the last nine races this season.  Jones finished seventh here earlier this season so taking him here would almost be a slam dunk.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr ($7,300) will more than likely play it safe today and try to stay with the pack in terms of where he is in the playoff standings. He is currently eighth, which is the cutoff line for this round and with Talladega coming up next week you can expect him to not take too many chances on Sunday. The driver of the #17 SunnyD Ford will start from the 22nd position as he tries for his first top 10 finish here at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Moving down the salary ladder we find Ryan Newman ($7,100) at one of the lowest price points he’s been all season. Newman was knocked out of the playoff chase last week but that doesn’t mean that he can’t finish well on Sunday. In fact the driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet has racked up eight top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts here at Charlotte and in those races he has never finished lower than 20th. Newman was the second fastest car in the only practice and qualified 11th for the race on Sundayafternoon.

If we have to look for a punt type of play we need to take a peek at Paul Menard ($6,600). Menard is either hit or miss every week and not really that consistent but with that said he does seem to finish in the top 20 when he doesn’t get caught up in a wreck. The driver of the #27 Menards/Schrock Chevrolet will roll of from the 20th position on Sunday.

That will about do it for another week of Nascar analysis here at FanVice.com. As usual, follow me on twitter @elctrceye and good luck in your games this weekend