TOP FIVE DRIVERS

BOJANGLES SOUTHERN 500 from DARLINGTON

My #5 driver to watch is only has one finish here “South of the Border,” #20 Erik Jones. Erik has one start and one Top 5. He is #7 hottest over the last six races.

My #4 driver is the defending champion of this race, #11 Denny Hamlin. Denny won here last year for the second time. That is two wins in twelve starts with seven Top 5’s. Seven Top 5’s is 58%. His last three races alone were all Top 5’s. Denny also has the #1 average finish in the last seven years at “the Track Too Tough to Tame.”

My #3 pick is the best driver on tracks like this, #78 Martin Truex Jr. Martin has 12 starts here, a win two years ago and one other Top 5. He is set to make the playoffs and is now focused on some great finishes heading into the “post” season. He has three straight 10’s here one reason we rate him #1 on tracks like this.

The #2 driver only has three Top 5’s here, #18 Kyle Busch. But one of his Top 5’s was a win here in 2008. A win and two other Top 5’s in 13 starts isn’t the best, but Kyle has been hot and that hot streak should continue when he meets the “Lady in Black.” It also doesn’t hurt that six wins here in the last nine years have been from Toyota, five of those from his team – Joe Gibbs Racing.

The number #1 driver to watch is, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin has 21 starts here, one win and six Top 5’s. He won here in 2014 in part of a streak of five consecutive Top 10 finishes four of the five were Top 5’s. He is the #1 hottest over the last six weeks and is #2 rated on tracks like this.

 

 

 

Monday look for our preview of the Big Machine Vodka 400 at The Brickyard.

 

 

 

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TOP 30 DRIVERS

BOJANGLES SOUTHERN 500 from DARLINGTON

 

  1. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  2. KYLE BUSCH #18
  3. MARTIN TRUEX #78
  4. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  5. ERIK JONES #20
  6. KYLE LARSON #42
  7. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  8. KURT BUSCH #41
  9. RYAN NEWMAN #31
  10. JOEY LOGANO #22
  11. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  12. MATT KENSETH #6
  13. AUSTIN DILLON #3
  14. JAMIE MCMURRAY #1
  15. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  16. WILLIAM BYRON #24
  17. CLINT BOWYER #14
  18. RYAN BLANEY #12
  19. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  20. DANIEL SUAREZ #19
  21. CHRIS BUESCHER #37
  22. ALEX BOWMAN #88
  23. KASEY KAHNE #95
  24. RICKEY STENHOUSE #17
  25. TY DILLON #13
  26. PAUL MENARD #21
  27. A. J. ALLMENDINGER #47
  28. MICHAEL MCDOWELL #34
  29. DARRELL WALLACE #43
  30. MATT DIBENEDETTO #32

 

 

Friday we break down the Top 5 drivers to watch.

TOP TEN TEAMS

TOP 10 TEAMS POST BRISTOL

  1. STEWART HAAS RACING (LW #2)
  2. FURNITURE ROW RACING (LW #1)
  3. JOE GIBBS RACING (LW #3)
  4. TEAM PENSKE (LW #4)
  5. HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (LW #5)
  6. CHIP GANASSI RACING (LW #7)
  7. RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (LW #6)
  8. WOOD BROTHERS RACING (LW #8)
  9. JTG RACING (LW #9)
  10. ROUSH FENWAY RACING (LW #10)

 

After eight weeks straight weeks at #1 Furniture Row Racing drop back a place to #2. Stewart Haas Racing return to the top spot. Joe Gibbs Racing remain at #3 and Team Penske stay at #4. Hendrick Motorsports hold steady at #5. Chip Ganassi Racing move up a place to #6. Richard Childress Racing slips back a spot to #7. Wood Brothers Racing. JTG Racing and Roush Fenway Racing all stay put this week.

 

These are the Top 10 Teams, Thursday look for our Top 30 drivers at Darlington.

TOP TEN DRIVERS by TRACK TYPE

TOP 10: INTERMEDIATE TRACKS

  1. MARTIN TRUEX #78
  2. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  3. KYLE BUSCH #18
  4. MATT KENSETH #6
  5. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  6. KURT BUSCH #41
  7. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  8. JOEY LOGANO #22
  9.  JAMIE MACMURRAY #1
  10.  DENNY HAMLIN #11

 

Top 10 on Intermediate tracks, tomorrow look for our Top 10 team rankings for Sunday’s BOJANGLES SOUTHERN 500 from Darlington Raceway.

RACE PREVIEW

dar 13

BOJANGLES SOUTHERN 500
DARLINGTON RACEWAY
SEPTEMBER 2nd, 6:00 PM CHARLOTTE TIME NBCSN TV
1.366 MILES, 25 DEGREES of BANKING in TURNS 1 & 2, 23 DEGREES in TURNS 3 & 4.

Here is a track that could have easily gone the way of the North Carolina Motor Speedway (Rockingham) or the North Wilkesboro Speedway; both of which stopped running NASCAR sanctioned races. Once the home of two races a year, it now just hosts one. In 2003 we saw the last Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. When it went away I thought the days of thunder would be over for this incredible egg-shaped speedway. International Speedway Corp. decided to give this track a chance and kept a race date earlier in the year. Lights were added and we’ve had big crowds even though they added more seats. Why? Better marketing? Lower prices? New amenities? Nope, just great close-up racing under the lights and old school night excitement at the ultimate old school track. It is even better now that we are back on Labor Day weekend. Built in 1950 this track began the Speedway era in NASCAR. Called “the track too tough to tame” it could have also been called “the track with no turn the same” because of disproportionately different east and west turns. Add in a very tight racing groove and pavement that eats tires and you have “the track that is very tough to claim” (victory that is). Most racers find it smarter to race the track than to race the other drivers. There are just two races to go before the Playoffs and a win will get you in, that will just ramp up the nerves. Joe Gibbs Racing has five wins in the last ten years and Hendrick Motorsports has two wins in the last ten years but the Hendrick engine shop has three wins and the Toyota/Joe Gibbs Racing motor shop has six wins. Big advantage to Toyota and JGR. Will anyone else challenge JGR/Toyota? HMS, Stewart Haas Racing (who have won ten races so far this year) or someone else? We’ll find out Sunday night September, 2nd.

Tuesday look for our Top 10 drivers on Intermediate tracks.

TOP FIVE DRIVERS

 

Bass Pro Shop Night Race from BRISTOL

The #5 pick is my #4 rated short track driver, #48 Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie has 31 starts, two wins and 12 Top 5’s.

Jimmie won here in the spring last year and came back this spring and finished 3rd. But he also sits 16th hottest this week. I think we’ll see him begin get better finishes in the lead up to the playoffs, and there is no better place than one where he has three Top 5’s in his last six stops here.

 

My #4 pick is a former winner here, #11 Denny Hamlin. Denny got a win this night race in 2012. He has 25 starts, that win and seven Top 5’s. He finished 3rd here in last year. He is #3 rated short track driver. His team Joe Gibbs Racing have won ten times in the past ten years, the most of any other team, they know how to get around here.

 

The #3 driver to watch won here in this race in 2015 and the race the year before, #22 Joey Logano. Joey has 19 starts, two wins and four Top 5’s. The four Top 5’s came in the last nine races; he is just getting better here in Thunder Valley. Joey is locked in at this point for the playoffs, so he can take some chances on pit stops to have a shot at the end. He is our #1 ranked short track driver.

 

The number #2 driver is the winning-est current drive here, #18 Kyle Busch. Kyle has seven career wins here. That is more than the other two members of what people are calling “The Big 3”. Kevin Harvick has two wins and Martin Truex has never won here. Kyle rolls into Thunder Valley with 26 starts, seven wins and ten Top 5 finishes, that includes a win in this race last year and a win in the spring. Kyle is #2 hottest over the last six races.

 

 

 

The number #1 driver to watch is the #1 hottest driver over the last six weeks, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin has 35 starts, two wins and 12 Top 5’s. His last win came in this race two years ago. In fact three of his last six starts have been Top 5’s, all of his last six were Top 10’s. Kevin is the #2 short track driver and is the winning-est driver of the year so far.

 

 

 

Monday look for our preview of the Bojangles Southern 500 from Darlington.

TOP 30 POWER RANKINGS

 

BASS PRO SHOPS NIGHT RACE-BRISTOL

 

  1. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  2. JOEY LOGANO #22
  3. KYLE BUSCH #18
  4. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  5. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  6. KYLE LARSON #42
  7. CLINT BOWYER #14
  8. RYAN NEWMAN #31
  9. CHASE ELLIOTT #24
  10. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  11. JAMIE MCMURRAY #1
  12. ERIK JONES #20
  13. KURT BUSCH #41
  14. DANIEL SUAREZ #19
  15. MARTIN TRUEX #78
  16. ALEX BOWMAN #88
  17. TREVOR BAYNE #6
  18. AUSTIN DILLON #3
  19. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  20. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  21. PAUL MENARD #27
  22. RYAN BLANEY #21
  23. KASEY KAHNE #95
  24. A. J. ALLMENDINGER #47
  25. WILLIAM BYRON #24
  26. MATT DIBENEDETTO #32
  27. CHRIS BUESCHER #37
  28. DAVID RAGAN #38
  29. DARRELL WALLACE #43
  30. TY DILLION#13

 

 

 

Above the Top 30 drivers for BASS PRO SHOPS Night Race from Bristol Motor Speedway, Friday we’ll break down the Top 5 drivers to watch.