Although Kyle Busch's championship hopes took a huge hit at Kansas last weekend, he doesn't seem to be letting it slow him down this weekend at Charlotte. Busch topped the charts in the first practice session at the track Friday to go along with the second-best 10-lap average speed, and he cracked the top five in Happy Hour. He has also finished in the top 10 in 10 of his last 12 starts at Charlotte and has six top-three finishes during the stretch. Busch looks like an elite fantasy option again this weekend.
Harvick still a favorite
Kyle's older brother Kurt Busch appears to be an elite fantasy play, as well. After all, he turned the second-fastest lap in the first practice Friday, and he posted the fastest lap and the best 10-lap average speed in Happy Hour. Kurt finished third at Charlotte earlier this year, and he might have an even faster car this time around.
Another driver that seems to have a fast car is Brad Keselowski. After all, he was the only other driver to crack the top five in both practice sessions Saturday. Granted, his 18.3 average finish at Charlotte isn't great, but he did finish fifth and 11th in two starts at the track last season. At the very least, Keselowski should be able to deliver a top-10 this weekend.
While he didn't turn a top-five lap in either practice Saturday, Jimmie Johnson did crack the top 10 in both sessions. More importantly, he logged the best 10-lap average speed in the opening practice. Johnson is also a six-time winner at Charlotte, and he has three top-three finishes in the last four fall races at the track. He hasn't finished worse than sixth since the Chase began, and don't expect that to change this weekend.
Last weekend's winner, Kevin Harvick, could also continue his strong Chase Saturday night. After turning the 12th-fastest lap and posting the fifth-best 10-lap average speed in the first practice Friday, he jumped to second on the charts in Happy Hour. In addition, Harvick is going for a season sweep at Charlotte after winning the May event, and in his last six starts at the track, he has five finishes of eighth or better, including two wins. Keep in mind that Harvick has scored more points than any other driver at 1.5-mile tracks in 2013. It's tough to find a safer pick.
Joey Logano should be a safe fantasy option this weekend, as well. For one, he ranked 11th and ninth in the two practices at Charlotte Friday. Perhaps more importantly, he owns a series-leading 9.6 average finish at the track, and he has only finished outside the top 15 once in nine starts. Logano finished fifth at Charlotte in May, and if he doesn't land in the top five this weekend, he probably won't be far off.
Another driver with top-five upside this weekend is Jeff Gordon. After winning the pole Thursday night, he cracked the top 10 in both practice sessions Friday, posting the third-fastest lap in the first session. Granted, Gordon has managed just one top-10 in his last six starts at Charlotte, but he has been happy with his car all weekend. He could be worth taking a chance on.
Although he might not have the upside of some of the other drivers mentioned, Carl Edwards could make a solid addition to fantasy rosters this weekend. He cracked the top 10 in both practice sessions Friday, and he has a history of success at Charlotte. Edwards has finished in the top 15 in 13 of his 17 starts at the track, and he has finished 11th or better in his last four. Look for him to finish in or around the top 10 again Saturday night.
In terms of sleeper options, Juan Pablo Montoya could make a solid play. He cracked the top 10 in the first practice Friday, and he landed in the top 15 in Happy Hour. Montoya also posted the fourth-best 10-lap average speed in the opening practice. History says he probably won't finish in the top 10, but with six straight top-20s at Charlotte and solid practice times, a top-15 isn't out of the question.
Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)
Happy Hour 10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)
Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)
Second Practice 10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)
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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