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ADAM ANSELL'S TOP 25 FOR CHARLOTTE
1. Kurt Busch: In 20 starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Busch has one win (May 2010), four Top Fives and five Top 10s. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, he ranks 10th in Driver Rating (87.6) and 11th in Average Running Position (16.7). Charlotte is one of three cookie-cutter tracks (Texas, Atlanta) on the Cup circuit, and all are practically identical. If a driver performs well at one, he usually performs well at the others. In four starts at the cookie-cutters in 2010, Busch has two wins (Charlotte, March Atlanta event), three Top Fives and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of third. He's led at least two laps in all four events. He's posted a 115.6 DR and 8.1 ARP this season at the cookie-cutters. His worst finish was sixth-place at the September Atlanta event. Busch has an obscenely low ownership level in Tiered/Grouping formats, but the value is not the reason Fantasy owners should start him - it's just a bonus. Fantasy owners should expect a dominant performance from the elder Busch.
2. Jimmie Johnson: In 18 starts at the site, Johnson has six wins, nine Top Fives, 13 Top 10s and three poles. From May 2004 to October 2005, he won four straight events at the site. Johnson leads all competitors in DR (115.3), ARP (7.8), Fastest Laps Run (386), Average Green Flag Speed (175.794 mph) and Laps in the Top 15 (86.1 percent). In four starts at the cookie-cutters this season, Johnson has one Top Five and two Top 10s. He's led at least six laps in 17 consecutive starts at CMS. All that makes it easy to forget he finished a disappointing 37th at Charlotte in May. Though the Top Five drivers in the Chase standings, led by Johnson, are separated by just 107 points with six events remaining, it feels like Johnson already has it locked up. Fantasy owners who can spare a Johnson start in Tiered/Grouping formats are recommended to do so.
3. Jeff Gordon: In 35 starts at the site, Gordon has five wins, 16 Top Fives, 20 Top 10s and seven poles. He ranks sixth in DR (89.1) and 12th in ARP (16.8). The Loop Data suggests that most of Gordon's success at the site was pre-2005, but that's only partially true because he posted five straight DNFs from May 2005 to May 2007. Fantasy owners need to ignore that, because it's totally unexplainable and out of character for Gordon. In the six races from October 2007 to May 2010, Gordon has one win, three Top Fives and five Top 10s. In that span he's led at least three laps in four of those events. He has an Average Finish of eighth and has led at least two laps in three of the four 2010 Chase events. Gordon is as reliable as any Fantasy option on the board, and can be trusted to put up elite numbers in all formats.
4. Kyle Busch: In 13 starts at the site, Busch has four Top Fives, seven Top 10s and one pole (May 2008). All of his Top 10s have come in his last eight starts at the site. He ranks second in DR (104.9) and third in ARP (10.9). In the four cookie-cutter events this season, Busch has three Top Fives with an Average Finish of ninth. He's led at least one lap in seven of his last eight starts at CMS. Busch's hopes of winning the Chase were all but destroyed with a 35th-place finish at Fontana last week, bumping him down to ninth in the standings. With six races left, Busch won't give up. He'll use this situation as motivation which will bring out the ultra-aggressive style that's won him so many races. With an Average Finish of 28th in his last two Cup starts and the ability to win any race at any site, Busch is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward start in Tiered/Grouping formats.
5. Tony Stewart: In 23 starts at the site, Smoke has one win (October 2003), six Top Fives and 11 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 13th. He ranks 12th in DR (84.5) and seventh in ARP (15.9). Prior to his win in the September Atlanta event, Stewart had an Average Finish of 20th at the cookie-cutters with zero Top 10s this season. Those figures can safely be disregarded by Fantasy owners because Stewart was still in the process of finding some consistency. With one win, eight Top Fives and 12 Top 10s in the 16 races following the May Charlotte event, consider that missing consistency found. Stewart is an excellent value start and has as much upside as any driver in the field.
6. Kasey Kahne: In 13 starts at the site, Kahne has three wins (May 2006, October 2006, May 2008) five Top Fives and seven Top 10s. He ranks third in DR (100.4) and fourth in ARP (11.6). He's been stellar at the cookie-cutters this season, with an Average Finish of seventh. That excludes his 33rd-place finish in the second Atlanta event in which he ran at an ARP of 12.6 but encountered some bad luck. He has an Average Start of fourth and an Average Finish of seventh in his last three starts at CMS. Kahne has fallen off the map in terms of Tiered/Grouping format ownership thanks to an Average Finish of 28th over the five events leading up to Fontana. Kahne is an excellent value start and will pay dividends to savvy Fantasy owners.
7. Kevin Harvick: In 19 starts at the site, Harvick has one Top Five and three Top 10s with an Average Finish of 21st. His last Top 10 at CMS came in October 2003. He ranks 26th in DR (67.1) and 27th in ARP (22.5). So how'd he get the No. 7 spot? For starters, he has an Average Finish of 7.5 in the four 2010 Chase races. He has an Average Finish of 9.5 in the four cookie-cutter events this season, never finishing lower than 11th. He led the Cup points standings pretty much wire-to-wire and averages a Top 10 finish (9.5) on the season. History means very little when judging a driver as talented as Harvick. Fantasy owners should deploy him as normal.
8. David Reutimann: In seven starts at CMS, Reutimann has one win (May 2009) and two Top Fives. In the May event at the site, Reutimann finished fifth with a 119.7 DR and a 4.0 ARP while running a season-high 99.8 percent of Laps in the Top 15. He ranks 17th in DR (77.5) and 16th in ARP (17.9). Reutimann's 37th-place finish at Texas was due to bad luck, as he held an ARP of 10.6 in that event. Reutimann's ownership levels in Tiered/Grouping formats have bottomed out, making him the best value play on the board. If Reutimann can avoid the much deserved wrath of Kyle Busch he's a safe bet for a Top 10 finish.
9. Denny Hamlin: He sits second in the Chase standings, 36 points behind Johnson. He's been losing ground by the week and it feels unlikely he'll reclaim the top spot. In 10 starts at the site, Hamlin has three Top 10s. He ranks 14th in DR (81.5) and eighth in ARP (15.9). Hamlin is very difficult to read when it comes to cookie-cutters. He has an Average Finish of 27th in the Charlotte and two Atlanta events, including a 43rd-place (dead last) finish in the September event, yet won at Texas. He's led at least three laps in his last two starts at CMS, and at least one lap in six of his 10 starts. Hamlin's Tiered/Grouping format ownership will be down, making him an option for Fantasy owners looking to mount a comeback.
10. Jeff Burton: In 33 starts at the site, Burton has three wins (May 1999, May 2001, October 2008) eight Top Fives and 15 Top 10s. He ranks eighth in DR (88.4) and sixth in ARP (14.4). He has one Top Five (fourth at Atlanta) and an Average Finish of 15th in the 2010 cookie-cutter events. Burton has an Average Finish of 13th on the season and is one of the most consistent Cup drivers out there. He's downgraded here for a couple of reasons. The first being in the three subsequent races since his 2008 win at CMS, he has an Average Finish of 21st with zero Top 10s. Second, he has an Average Finish 21st in the past two Chase races. Despite all that he's still a safe start in all formats.
11. Matt Kenseth: One win (May 2000), six Top Fives and 11 Top 10s in 22 starts at CMS. 89.1 DR.
12. Carl Edwards: Finished outside the Top 12 last week for the first time since June - he'll bounce back at Charlotte. 84.0.
13. Ryan Newman: He's won nine poles and has started inside the Top Four on the grid 14 times in 19 starts at the site. 81.3 DR.
14. Clint Bowyer: One Top Five and three Top 10s in nine starts at CMS. 79.6 DR.
15. Greg Biffle: Two Top Fives and five Top 10s in 15 starts at CMS. 85.5 DR.
16. Mark Martin: 91.1 DR.
17. Joey Logano: 100.2.
18. Jamie McMurray: 75.9.
19. Martin Truex Jr.: 71.0.
20. AJ Allmendinger: 55.7.
21. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
22. Juan Pablo Montoya
23. Brad Keselowski
24. Paul Menard
25. David Ragan
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