Bank of America 500
The second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Saturday night's Bank of America 500 will be the second race of the year at the 1.5-mile oval, but for the 12 drivers still fighting for the championship, this weekend's race will be much more important than the May event.
Since the playoffs began, I have been talking about how important it is to load up your fantasy NASCAR lineups with Chase drivers whenever possible, and that isn't going to change. Last weekend at Dover, Chase drivers claimed the first nine spots, and 12 Chase drivers finished in the top 15.
In fact, 12 Chase drivers have finished in the top 15 in each of the first three races of the playoffs, claiming 25 of the 30 possible top 10 spots. Every year, the championship contenders rise to the top in the playoffs, and this year is proving to be no exception. If you still have starts left from the top guys in each tier, now is the time to use them.
1. MARTIN TRUEX, JR., #78 FURNITURE ROW, FURNITURE ROW RACING [YAHOO CLASS B]
Truex didn't just win at Charlotte in May. He dominated the competition, leading 392 of the 400 laps. He has now reeled off three straight top five finishes at the track, leading the most laps twice during that span. Stick with the hottest driver in the series at one of his best tracks.
2. KEVIN HARVICK, #4 BUSCH BEER/JIMMY JOHNS, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
Over the last 10 races at Charlotte, Harvick has cracked the top 10 nine times and compiled a series-best 5.3 average finish. He has been even better here since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, finishing either first or second in four of his five starts.
3. DENNY HAMLIN, #11 FEDEX, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
He has been on a roll at Charlotte, logging a 7.3 average finish over the last 10 races and finishing in the top 10 nine times. Hamlin also has five top five finishes during the same stretch, including back-to-back fourth-place efforts.
4. MATT KENSETH, #20 DOLLLAR GENERAL/DEWALT, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
Kenseth offers the combination of reliability and upside that you look for in an A-List pick. He has eight top 15s in his last 10 starts at Charlotte, including four finishes of seventh or better in his last six starts.
5. KYLE BUSCH, #18 MARS BRANDS/INTERSTATE BATTERIES, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
The defending champ is off to a strong start in the Chase, posting a 4.3 average finish in the opening round of the playoffs. The hot streak should continue at Charlotte where he ranks in the top three in driver rating, laps led and fastest laps run.