Post Qualifying Notes: Coca-Cola 600
The NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers completed their qualifying runs for the Coca-Cola 600 on Thursday night. Aric Almirola captured the pole position in his first career Cup Series start at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Marcos Ambrose is starting second and my favorite to win the race, Jimmie Johnson, starts third. Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer round out the Top 5.
I am heading into the weekend with the Top 3 qualifiers on my Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing team. While Thursday was all about qualifying, the two practice sessions scheduled for Saturday will show who the real contenders are going to be. Barring an unforeseen disaster during practice, I am starting #48 Jimmie Johnson, #9 Marcos Ambrose, #5 Kasey Kahne, & #43 Aric Almirola. I am confident that each of my drivers will convert their strong starting positions into solid finishes. I am starting the race with 2,877 total points.
ESPN Stock Car Challenge owners had to make a mandatory pit stop after the race at Darlington to reselect their five drivers before the start of Segment 2. In my Segment Preview I broke down the dynamics of the next 15 races leading up to the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship (including a few tips on how to handle the two road course races). I’m implementing the long-term salary cap strategy I discussed heading into Charlotte.
#48 Jimmie Johnson ($21.8) – Starting 3rd. Johnson owns Charlotte (see my Pre-Practice Notes). The 5 time Cup Series Champion and 3 time All-Star Race winner is gunning for his 7th regular season win at Charlotte.
#18 Kyle Busch ($20.5) – Starting 17th. Kyle has 1 Sprint Cup victory at Charlotte and 5 other Top 5 finishes in 16 Cup Series starts. I am grabbing him now because he is my early favorite for next week’s race at Dover.
#5 Kasey Kahne ($20.0) – Starting 7th. Kahne has 3 wins at Charlotte. The Wild Card contender is looking to secure a spot in The Chase with a couple of wins in his new ride. He has won at 3 of the next 4 tracks including Infineon.
#55 Mark Martin ($18.6) – Starting 6th. Martin has 4 Charlotte victories. I expect Martin to be a Top 10 contender in each of the next four races before he hands the keys over to Brain Vickers.
#9 Marcos Ambrose ($18.5) – Starting 2nd. Ambrose finished in the Top 10 of both Charlotte and Dover races last season. If the road course specialist improves at Pocono his Salary Cap owners will be rewarded for grabbing him early in the Segment.
Total Cost of Ownership – $99.4
Total Points – 1,637 (82.8%)
A special Thank You goes out to all that have served our great Country. I hope everyone enjoys their Memorial Day Weekend!