Bank of America 500 fantasy NASCAR preview

by Bob Frykholm on October 9, 2008 @ 14:18:08 PDT

 


Lowe's is a 1.5-mile track that offers both fuel and tire strategies. Drivers typically will pass in Turns 3 and 4; they look to gain momentum in he corners, which will allow them to pass on the straights. However, passing can be completed almost anywhere on the track, so look for many lead changes.

We have only six races left for the championship. The drivers who are on the back of the Chase standings will throw caution to the wind. Last year's race had 15 cautions as drivers raced aggressively, hoping to make a move up in the standings. You can expect to see more of the same this year as many top drivers sit at the back of the pack.

Location: Concord, N.C.
Shape: Quad-oval
Length: 1.5 miles
Laps: 337
Banking: turns - 24 degrees; straightaways - 5 degrees

Table: Do not bench


Leading the pack

Mark Martin | No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet | Dale Earnhardt Inc.

Martin part-time driver for DEI is scheduled to run at Lowe's. Martin is a competitive force on any track he races on. He has run an incredible 47 times at Lowe's with 21 top-10 and 17 top-five finishes. Martin's experience is irreplaceable. His average finish at the track in his last 19 runs is 13.3, and he also has a victory (three in his prior 28 runs). Martin is a cool driver who seldom makes mistakes. He is a driver you can count on having a solid race, and anytime races he will be a sentimental favorite. Selecting Martin makes a lot of sense. You can bet that there will be a lot of aggressive driving at Lowe's, so starting Martin is advised.

Greg Biffle | No. 16 3M Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Biffle is streaky who was on fire until last week's wreck at Talladega Superspeedway. He is still in a position to challenge Jimmie Johnson. He currently sits in third place, well-situated for a chance at the title. His average finish for the last four races is 7.3 even with last week's finish of 24. He has run 11 times at Lowe's with an average finish of 25.5. He has four top-10 finishes. However, take into account his second-place finish the last time he ran at this track. Given his hot streak, and his second-place finish with his last visit, Biffle is a driver you want this week.

Brian Vickers | No. 83 Red Bull Toyota | Red Bull Racing

Vickers is proven and has shown that he can run competitively this season, but it can be tough to continue to run races when you have failed to qualify for the Chase. At Lowe's, he has a good amount of experience having run nine times with an average finish of 28.1, along with two top-10 placement. He has not run well of late. His average finish in his last four races is 29.0, and he hasn't recorded a DNF. He finished 35th in his last race. Starting Vickers this week merits some contemplation when you consider his strong racing skills and a top-five finish at this track.

Bobby Labonte | No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker/Totino's Dodge | Petty Enterprises

Lowe's is a track that LaBonte has had some success with. In his last four races, Labonte's average finish is 14.3, better than his season-average finish of 21.0. His average finish at Lowe's is 16.8 in 31 starts. He has 17 top-10 finishes and two victories. His last run at Lowe's netted him an 11th-place finish. Labonte is a former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. He has extensive experience and fully understands both his as well as his car's limitations. He is a sentimental favorite with fans and makes very few mistakes on the track. Don't overlook Labonte this week.

Ryan Newman | No. 12 Kodak Dodge | Penske Racing 

Newman is still looking to find his grove this season. He is ranked in 15th position after finishing 43rd last week, due to an engine failure. The good news is that he has run well at times at Lowe's. In his 15 races he has not won a race and has an average finish of 29.4. He also has five top-10 and three top-five finishes. Newman is one of the drivers who could still win on any given week. It's tough to sit Newman given his abilities and previous successes. Don't make a mistake by overlooking his chances this week.

Sam Hornish Jr. | No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge | Penske Racing 

Hornish currently ranks second amongst all rookies in the standings. He failed to run last week and finished 33rd in the Camping World RV 400 race in the prior week. That marked four consecutive weeks of poor showings with an average finish of 35.8. The good news is that he ran fairly well at Lowe's in his only visit, finishing 13th. Hornish still is adjusting to the rigors of NASCAR racing. He has yet to record a top-10 finish but looks to break through at Lowe's with a strong run. Hornish is a definite consideration for a driver who could surprise at Lowe's.

Drivers to keep an eye on

Kurt Busch | No. 2 Miller Lite Ford | Penske Racing

Busch has run 16 times at Lowe's. His average finish is 30th along with two top-10 finishes and three DNFs. He has never won at this track. He ran 16th at his last race here, which was an improvement on his career track record. Busch's season's average finish is 22nd, but he has not run strong in his last three races. His last top-10 finish was four weeks ago in the Sylvania 300 race where he placed sixth. It's tough to dismiss a former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Even though he has not run well of late, Busch makes for an interesting pick.

Casey Mears | No. 5 Cheez-It/CARQUEST Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

Mears has 11 starts at Lowe's. He has three top-10 finishes and one checkered flag. In those 11 starts, Mears has an average finish of 26.7 and two DNFs. In his last race at Lowe's, he finished 29th. He sits in a disappointing 22nd place in the standings, given his abilities and team affiliation. It has been a major disappointment that he hasn't been able to showcase his abilities. Mears will run for Richard Childress Racing next year, and he wants to finish his season on a high note with a strong run this week. Don't discount his chances given his previous victory at the track.

Jamie McMurray | No. 26 Crown Royal Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

McMurray was not able to become a serious contender for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. It is unfortunate because he races for one of the top teams, in addition to having the experience and ability to be a top driver on the circuit. He is ranked in 20th place but has shown some glimpses of competitive racing this season. His record at Lowe's has an average finish of 22.3 with five top-10 finishes and one victory in his 12 starts. In his last three races here, he has an average finish of 22nd. McMurray's 2002 win shows that he can run competitively here. Select him if you have a spot for him.

Scott Riggs | No. 66 State Water Heaters Chevrolet | Haas CNC Racing

Riggs sits in 33rd place in the standings; he has only one top-10 finish this season. He is an experienced driver who has the ability to run a strong race. His average finish at Lowe's is 29.2 with no top-10 finishes in nine starts. His last visit to this track netted him a 28th-place finish. It would be difficult to select Riggs based on his record this season or performance at this track. He'll need a strong run to salvage a disappointing season. He is in a position to spoil the hopes of drivers who sit on the bubble for the championship.

Clint Bowyer | No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Earlier in the season many experts were wondering if Bowyer was a one-year wonder. He sat well out of the standings and was struggling on the track. Bowyer has done a masterful job in turning his season around. He currently resides in fifth place in the standings and in a position to make a run. He has run only five times at Lowe's with one top-10 finish and no victories. His average finish is 23.2. In his last race, he finished 25th. Bowyer understands that remaining close in the standings will not win a championship. He needs a victory along with top-five finishes to challenge. Selecting Bowyer this week makes sense.

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About Bob Frykholm

Frykholm has been a KFFL contributor since February 2008.

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