When the Cup Series visited Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, Kevin Harvick ended up celebrating in victory lane. After qualifying second and turning fast laps in practice at the track this weekend, he slides into the No. 1 spot in the final driver rankings as he tries for the season sweep. Harvick has two wins in his last six starts at Charlotte and has scored more points than any other driver in the series at 1.5-mile tracks this year. He looks like an excellent fantasy play in all formats this weekend.
Harvick climbs up ranks
While Harvick moves into the top spot, Kyle Busch climbs into the top three in the final rankings. Busch qualified in the top 10 Thursday night and was excellent in practice Friday, topping the charts in one of the sessions. Meanwhile, he has finished eighth or better in 10 of his last 12 starts at Charlotte and has six finishes of third or better during the stretch. Busch looks like a safe bet to challenge for the win this weekend.
Jeff Gordon also appears to be a legit contender, and he vaults into the top five in the final driver rankings on the heels of a pole-winning lap Thursday and a strong showing in Friday's practices. Gordon actually hasn't had a lot of luck at Charlotte recently, posting just one top-10 in his last six starts. However, he clearly has a fast car and is definitely worth a spot on fantasy rosters this weekend.
Outside of the top five, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano are two drivers with a lot of upside. Both drivers qualified in the top 12, and while Busch practiced in the top five, Logano was consistently in the top 10. Meanwhile, Busch finished a strong third at Charlotte earlier this year and has three top-four finishes in his last seven starts at the track. Logano, on the other hand, finished fifth at Charlotte in May and owns a series-leading 9.6 average finish at the track.
Rounding out the top 10 in the final rankings is Brad Keselowski, and despite a mediocre record at Charlotte and a lackluster qualifying effort, his car was one of the best on the track in race trim. Keselowski cracked the top five in both practice sessions Friday, and fantasy owners willing to overlook his past results at Charlotte could be rewarded nicely this weekend.
In terms of sleeper options, Juan Pablo Montoya could be the best of the bunch. He qualified in the top 10 and showed plenty of speed on both short and long runs in practice Friday. Montoya has also posted six straight top-20 finishes at Charlotte, so he has been serviceable at the track anyway. Given the practice times, a top-15 finish is a real possibility for Montoya this weekend.
In deeper leagues, Montoya's Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson could make a solid play. He is making his Cup Series debut this weekend, and he qualified just outside the top 20 and practiced around the top 20, as well. Larson has enjoyed immediate success in just about every series he has raced in, so he might end up sneaking into the top 20 by the end of the race Saturday night at Charlotte.
About Brian Polking
Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.
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