ADAM ANSELL’S TOP 30 FOR CHARLOTTE
1. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson finished 17th with 11 laps led at Talladega, by far his most impressive restrictor-plate result of the season. In 22 starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson has six wins (2002, 2004 sweep, 2005 sweep, 2009), 10 Top 5s, 14 Top 10s and three poles with an Average Finish of 11.8. He finished 11th in the May race at CMS. He’s led at least one lap in 19 of his 22 appearances. He’s started inside the Top Four on the grid 10 times. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Johnson leads all competitors in Driver Rating (111.0), Average Running Position (8.2), Laps in the Top 15 (4,599), Fastest Laps Run (488), Average Green Flag Speed (176.468 mph) and Quality Passes (772). His middling finish last week leaves him 14 points off the Chase pace. He’ll need a big performance at one of his best tracks on Sunday and Fantasy owners can expect just that.
2. Brad Keselowski: Though he failed to lead a lap at Talladega, Keselowski put together a seventh-place performance. In six starts at Charlotte, Keselowski has one Top 5 and one pole with an Average Finish of 16.5. He started 24th and finished fifth with one lap led in the May event. He’s led at least one lap in three of his six starts. Keselowski ranks 21st in DR (76.8) and 15th in ARP (17.4). He upped his lead over the Chase field to 14 points and came out of NASCAR’s most volatile track unscathed. He remains on absolute fire and is a top Fantasy option at every track regardless of any past results.
3. Kasey Kahne: Kahne finished 12thwith nine laps led last weekend at ‘Dega. In 17 CMS starts, Kahne has four wins (2006 sweep, 2008, 2012), seven Top 5s and nine Top 10s with an Average Finish of 12.7. Kahne won his fourth race at the site by dominating late, leading 96 laps in the process. He’s qualified inside the Top Four six times. Kahne ranks third in DR (97.5) and fourth in ARP (12.7). He ranks second in Laps Led (595). While he’s fourth in the standings (36 points back), he’s going to need a repeat of his May result to remain a Chase factor. He’s a must-start in Tiered/Grouping formats.
4. Jeff Gordon: Gordon finished in second-place for the second consecutive race last weekend. In 39 Charlotte starts, Gordon has five wins (1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2007), 16 Top 5s, 21 Top 10s and eight poles with an Average Finish of 15.7. He led five laps and finished seventh back in May. He’s led at least three laps in five of his last six starts. He’s qualified fourth-or-better 18 times. Gordon ranks ninth in DR (87.7) and 12th in ARP (16.0). If not for a 35th-place debacle at Chicago, Gordon would be right in the thick of the Chase. He has finished third-or-better in six of his last seven races and is on absolute fire. He’s a quality alternative with nice value in Tiered/Grouping format for owners looking to shy away from the Top 2 options.
5. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin finished 14th with no laps led at Talladega. In 14 starts at Charlotte, Hamlin has two Top 5s and seven Top 10s with an Average Finish of 15th. He finished second with 13 laps led in the May race. He’s led at least one lap in five of his last six appearances. He’s started inside the Top Four on the grid once. Hamlin ranks sixth in DR (89.3) and fifth in ARP (13.5). While he did enough not to eliminate himself from contention, he’s still 23 points back. The No. 11 had a chance to win the May event and will need similar production this weekend to have a chance to redeem his 2010 meltdown.
6. Matt Kenseth: Despite a win last Sunday at Talladega, Kenseth still sits last in the Chase standings. In 26 CMS starts, Kenseth has two wins (2000, 2011), seven Top 5s and 14 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 14.2. He finished 10th in May. He’s led at least one lap in 11 of his last 13 starts. He’s qualified inside the Top Four three times. Kenseth ranks fourth in DR (95.1) and seventh in ARP (14.4). When a win can’t dig you out of the basement, in reality it’s over. But from a Fantasy perspective, Kenseth remains a quality value play for this week’s race.
7. Tony Stewart: Stewart finished 22nd last weekend at Talladega with one lap led. In 27 Charlotte starts, Stewart has one win (2003), six Top 5s, 12 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 14th. Smoke finished 25th in the May race. He’s led at least one lap in three of his last five starts. He’s qualified fourth-or-better three times. Stewart ranks 12th in DR (83.4) and 13th in ARP (16.0). He’s now finished 20th-or-worse in back-to-back races and won’t repeat his 2011 crown. Regardless, he will remain competitive with high upside each week. Stewart is a nice value play at CMS.
8. Greg Biffle: Biffle finished sixth and led 16 laps at Talladega. In 19 CMS starts, Biffle has four Top 5s and seven Top 10s with an Average Finish of 17.1. Biff started and finished fourth and led 204 laps in the May event. He’s led at least one lap in each of his last four starts. He’s started fourth-or-better three times. Biffle ranks fifth in DR (92.3) and eighth in ARP (14.5). He peaked too early, but still has something left in the tank for Fantasy owners looking for value.
9. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finished 11th at ‘Dega and led 12 laps. In 23 Charlotte starts, Harvick has one win (2011), two Top 5s and seven Top 10s with an Average Finish of 18.1. He led one lap and finished eighth in May. He’s led at least one lap in three of his last four starts. Harvick ranks 24th in DR (74.9) and in ARP (19.5). His run of being painfully average continued, as he’s posted five-straight finishes no higher than 10th and no lower than 13th. He’s a safe enough Tiered/Grouping format play.
10. Kyle Busch: Busch finished third at ‘Dega with six laps led. In 17 starts at CMS, Busch has seven Top 5s, 10 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 15.9. He finished third in the May Charlotte race. He’s led at least 36 laps in each of his last five starts. He’s qualified fourth-or-better twice. Busch ranks second in DR (107.5) and in ARP (9.9). He’s a bit of an afterthought since missing out on the Chase, but has quietly put together a nice string of finishes (two Top 5s, three Top 10s in his last four starts). He’s a great value in Tiered/Grouping formats.
11. Martin Truex Jr.: Two Top 10s with an Average Finish of 19.4 in 14 Charlotte starts. 73.3 DR.
12. Clint Bowyer: One Top 5 and three Top 10s with an Average Finish of 17.5 in 13 starts at the site. 77.4 DR.
13. Mark Martin: Four wins (1992, 1995, 1998, 2002), 18 Top 5s, 23 Top 10s and two poles with an Average Finish of 16.7 in 55 CMS starts. 87.0 DR.
14. Ryan Newman: Four Top 5s, eight Top 10s and nine poles with an Average Finish of 20.1 in 23 starts at Charlotte. 76.3 DR.
15. Jeff Burton: Three wins (1999, 2001, 2008), eight Top 5s and 15 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 15.5 in 37 starts at CMS. 84.4 DR.
16. Regan Smith: Will helm with No. 88 Chevy with Dale Earnhardt Jr. out with a concussion. 64.2 DR.
17. Aric Almirola: Captured the pole in the May event. 82.1 DR.
18. Carl Edwards: Finished ninth in the May race. 88.4 DR.
19. Marcos Ambrose: Started second on the grid back in May. 77.3 DR.
20. Jamie McMurray: Won the Fall 2010 race at CMS. 77.2 DR.
21. David Reutimann: 78.8 DR.
22. Paul Menard: 65.2.
23. Sam Hornish Jr.: 57.4.
24. Joey Logano: 88.3.
25. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: 72.3.
26. Juan Pablo Montoya
27. Kurt Busch
28. Trevor Bayne
29. Bobby Labonte
30. Dave Blaney