|DRIVER||AVG FINISH||QUAL. PASSES||# of FASTEST LAPS||LAPS LED||LAPS IN TOP 15||DRIVER RATING|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||23.5||310||118||124||1,641||77.4|
Jeff Gordon Only Mark Martin and Bill Elliott have more Top 10's among active drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Gordon's 20 career Top-10 finishes at CMS include five in the last six races there. Intermediate ovals have been excellent venues for the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team in the last few seasons. Gordon's last visit to a 1.5-mile oval yielded 29 laps led and a fifth-place finish at Kansas. We expect similar results this weekend.
Carl Edwards Edwards returns to the scene of his mediocre 16th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 this May. That event was illustrative of what has plagued the No. 99 team the last two seasons. However, Edwards has turned things around 180 degrees since the last visit to CMS. He's reeled of 10 Top-10 finishes in the last 12 races, and thrust himself into the championship picture. We will likely see the Edwards that cracks the Top 10 at a career 64 percent rate at Charlotte Motor Speedway this Sunday.
Kevin Harvick The Richard Childress Racing veteran has his eye on the prize, and that is the 2010 Sprint Cup Series championship. Harvick knows he needs a great performance at Charlotte Motor Speedway to keep that dream a possibility. The No. 29 team has never really enjoyed all that much success at the 1.5-mile oval, but the circumstances dictates that a Top-10 finish is in order. Harvick recently posted a stellar third-place effort at the intermediate oval in Kansas, which is another facility he's struggled at over the years.
Greg Biffle Biffle has never won at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but he has flirted with victory there on a couple of occasions. He's riding a good streak of momentum at the moment, and could show up with a race-winning car any weekend. The No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing team had a very dominant car recently at Kansas, so it's not that unrealistic to expect them to unload another great, Top 10 car at Charlotte.
Sleepers - Drivers with good history at Charlotte who can provide a solid finish
Jeff Burton Burton is a three-time winner at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and he's also had his taste of the checkers in the All-Star events at the intermediate oval. So the solid resume for success is in place for the No. 31 team. The Richard Childress Racing veteran recently cracked the Top 5 at Atlanta, and he had a potential Top 5 car at Kansas before a mysterious handling issue prevented a great finish in the Price Chopper 400. We expect Burton to challenge the Top 5 with his Chase Hopes hanging in the balance.
Kyle Busch Busch has been trying desperately to stay alive in the championship chase. While winning this season's crown isn't very likely, the urgency to finish well will be with the Joe Gibbs Racing star every week. Busch is riding a powerful six-race Top 10 streak at Charlotte into this event, and he's led close to 300 laps at the intermediate oval during this span. The No. 18 Toyota will be fast for the Bank of America 500.
Ryan Newman Rocket Man owns an astounding nine pole positions at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including two of the last three events. He's also grabbed a few Top-10 finishes along the way there too. Newman won the pole and finished ninth in this season's Coca-Cola 600. While we don't expect the driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet to collect the win on Sunday, a Top-10 finish is well within reach.
A.J. Allmendinger Three of the last five races have yielded Top-10 finishes for the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team. You have to use that confidence when choosing Allmendinger for your fantasy racing lineups this weekend. His last start at CMS yielded a steady Top-15 finish in the Coca Cola 600, and Allmendinger's recent Top 10 at Kansas underscores this team's performance. Certainly a safe, Top-20 finish should be in store at Charlotte.
Paul Menard Looking for a deep sleeper this weekend? Look no further than Menard in your weekly lineup games. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver has been quite impressive of late. Menard's last three efforts have netted a pair of Top 10's at Dover and Kansas and a decent 22nd-place finish at Fontana last weekend. These performances are well above his norm at these ovals. Menard should press to equal the eighth-place finish he posted at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May's Coca Cola 600.
Bill Elliott Another driver who should be happy to return to the intermediate ovals this weekend is Elliott. The Wood Brothers Racing veteran has an amazing 61 career starts at the 1.5-mile North Carolina oval. Although this team is part-time this season, Elliott has made Top-25 finishes a routine scenario at intermediate ovals this season. Top 25's at Fort Worth, Atlanta, Charlotte and Kansas speak to the consistency of the No. 21 team.
Flops - Drivers to avoid at all costs
Denny Hamlin While Hamlin is probably the driver with the best shot of upsetting Jimmie Johnson's prolific championship string, he's not a driver to ride in your fantasy racing lineups this weekend. The Joe Gibbs Racing star has struggled tremendously at the intermediate oval outside Charlotte. First off, Hamlin has a disappointing 30 percent career Top 10 rate at the oval. Secondly, he had a blown engine and DNF at the recent Atlanta race as well as an uninspiring 12th-place finish at Kansas. The intermediate ovals have not been kind to the No. 11 team this season.
Marcos Ambrose We love the Aussie racing sensation, but the No. 47 team has fallen into a rut in recent weeks. Ambrose will be leaving this team for Richard Petty Motorsports in 2011, so the urgency to work on things for next season with this small race team are not in effect. Ambrose has three career starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway with no finishes better than 22nd.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. The process of fixing the No. 88 team is taking a lot longer than expected. Good runs are still few and far between despite the flashes of optimism from the veteran driver. While Earnhardt has some decent career stats at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the team's current state is far from stable or consistent. In short, we don't expect a Top-20 finish for Earnhardt at Charlotte. His last four trips to CMS have yielded no Top-20 finishes.
Juan Pablo Montoya The No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team has fallen on hard times of late. Montoya has fallen outside the Top 15 in the series standings thanks to a four-race Top 10 drought. The chances for a turnaround at Charlotte Motor Speedway are pretty slim. Montoya has only one Top 10 in seven career starts at the intermediate oval, and three DNF's to add to the pessimism. The team's recent poor performance at Kansas Speedway is still fresh in our memory.