TOP FIVE DRIVERS TO WATCH

BOJANGLES SOUTHERN 500 from DARLINGTON

My #5 driver to watch is the defending champion of this race, #2 Brad Keselowski. Brad got his first win here “South of the Border”  last year. He has 10 starts, that win and three Top 5’s. He is #8 ranked on tracks like this and also sits #8 hottest, a Top 5 finish can help improve those stats.      

My #4 pick is a driver that used to struggle here, #22 Joey Logano. Joey has 10 starts here with three Top 5’s. Interestingly, those three Top 5’s came in his last four starts including his second place finish last year. Joey is ranked #5 for me on tracks like and is 6th hottest.  

The number #3 driver to watch is a former winner here, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin has 22 starts here, one win and seven Top 5’s. He won here in 2014 in part of a streak of six consecutive Top 10 finishes, five of the six were Top 5’s. He is the #5 hottest over the last six weeks and is #2 rated 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 14 starts isn’t the best, but Kyle has been hot and that hot streak should continue when he meets the “Lady in Black.”He sits #2 hottest and is #4 for me on tracks like this. It also doesn’t hurt that half of the wins here in the last ten years have been from Toyota, four of those from his team – Joe Gibbs Racing.

My #1 driver is the hottest driver over the last six weeks and most recent winner on the circuit, #11 Denny Hamlin. Denny is the hot shoe and he arrives here where he has two wins in just 13 starts, with seven Top 5’s-54%.  His last four races were all Top 10’s, three of them were Top 5’s. Denny also has the #1 average finish in the last seven years at “the Track Too Tough to Tame” and his worst career finish was 19th.

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

Advertisements

TOP 30 DRIVERS

SOUTHERN 500 FROM DARLINGTON

  1. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  2. KYLE BUSCH #18
  3. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  4. JOEY LOGANO #22
  5. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  6. MARTIN TRUEX #19
  7. KYLE LARSON #42
  8. ERIK JONES #20
  9. KURT BUSCH #1
  10. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  11. RYAN NEWMAN #6
  12. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  13. WILLIAM BYRON #24
  14. RYAN BLANEY #12
  15. ALEX BOWMAN #88
  16. AUSTIN DILLON #3
  17. CHRIS BUESCHER #37
  18. PAUL MENARD #21
  19. TY DILLON #13
  20. MATT DIBENEDETTO #95
  21. DANIEL SUAREZ #41
  22. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  23. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  24. CLINT BOWYER #14
  25. DARRELL WALLACE JR. #43
  26. DANIEL HEMRIC #8
  27. MICHAEL MCDOWELL #34
  28. DAVID RAGAN #38
  29. LANDON CASSILL #00
  30. RYAN PREECE #47

Friday we break down the Top 5 drivers to watch in the SOUTHERN 500.

TOP TEN TEAMS

TOP 10 TEAMS POST BRISTOL

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

After eight weeks straight weeks at#1 it is no surprise Joe Gibbs Racing remain on the heels of the #11 Denny Hamlin. Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing stay in place this week. Hendrick Motorsports move up a place to #4 and that moves Stewart Haas Racing to #5. Leavine Family Racing and red hot#95 Matt DiBennesetto move up two spots to #6. Roush Fenway Racing drop back a place to #7 and Wood Brothers Racing also go back a place. Germain Racing stay at #9 and JTG Racing stay #10.

 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 #19
  2. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  3. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  4. KYLE BUSCH #18
  5. JOEY LOGANO #22
  6. KURT BUSCH #1
  7. ERIK JONES #20
  8. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  9. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  10.  KYLE LARSON #42

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

RACE PREVIEW

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

Stages end at 100/200/367 Laps

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 four 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 five wins. The most recent winner was Brad Kesolowski in Team Penske Ford. Big advantage to Toyota and JGR. Will anyone else challenge JGR/Toyota? HMS, Stewart Team Penske or someone else? We’ll find out Sunday night September, 1st.

Tuesday August 27, look for our Top 10 drivers on Intermediate tracks.

TOP FIVE DRIVERS TO WATCH

Bass Pro Shop Night Race from BRISTOL

The #5 pick is a former winner here and the defending champion of this race, #1 Kurt Busch. Kurt has 37 starts, six wins and 12 Top 5’s -32%. Kurt’s last win was this race last year but he was driving a Stewart Haas Ford. This year he is in a Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.  Kurt finished 2nd here in April in a Chevy, so I’m not worried about the new ride. He is the #2 winning-est current driver here at Bristol.

The number #4 driver to watch is a former here and the most recent winner on the circuit, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin has 37 starts, two wins and 12 Top 5’s.Kevin last won here in this race three years ago. Kevin is the #4 short track driver and is #4 hottest over the last six weeks.

My #3 pick is my #1 rated short track driver, #11 Denny Hamlin. Denny is also a former winner here, he got a win in this night race in 2012. He has 27 starts, that win and eight Top 5’s. That includes a 5th place finish here earlier in the year. He is the #1 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 #2 driver to watch won here in this race in 2015 and the race the year before, #22 Joey Logano. Joey has 21 starts, two wins and six Top 5’s. The six Top 5’s came in the last 12 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 #2 ranked short track driver.

The number #1 to driver watch is the winning-est current drive here, #18 Kyle Busch. Kyle has eight career wins here. That includes a big when here in April. He has those eight wins in just 28 starts -28% win percentage. He also has won three of the last four races. Kyle is #3 ranked for me on short tracks, #2 hottest and sits #1 in points.      

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

TOP 30 DRIVERS

BASS PRO SHOPS NIGHT RACE-BRISTOL

  1. KYLE BUSCH #18
  2. JOEY LOGANO #22
  3. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  4. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  5. KURT BUSCH #1
  6. KYLE LARSON #42
  7. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  8. RYAN BLANEY #12
  9. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  10. ALEX BOWMAN #88
  11. CLINT BOWYER #14
  12. RYAN NEWMAN #6
  13. ERIK JONES #20
  14. DANIEL SUAREZ #41
  15. WILLIAM BYRON #24
  16. MARTIN TRUEX #19
  17. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  18. AUSTIN DILLON #3
  19. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  20. MATT DIBENEDETTO #95
  21. PAUL MENARD #21
  22. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  23. DAVID RAGAN #38
  24. TY DILLION#13
  25. CHRIS BUESCHER #37
  26. DARRELL WALLACE #43
  27. DANIEL HEMRIC #8
  28. RYAN PREECE #47
  29. MICHAEL MCDOWELL #34
  30. MATT TIFFT #36

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.