2007 NASCAR Fantasy Preview: Lowe’s Motor Speedway

Coca-Cola 600

Ho Hum All-Star Challenge

I have come to the conclusion that NASCAR needs to change the format of the All-Star Challenge. I was literally bored with the whole thing on Saturday night as were all of the people watching with me. They need to make it more of a race than 20 lap segments.

The only exciting thing that happened all night was the Busch brothers getting together and eliminating themselves from contention. I wish Kyle had talked to the media. That way we might have had a lot of excitement.

My Pick To Win Lowe’s Motor Speedway

This weekend the circuit heads back to Charlotte for the running of the Coca-Cola 600. Everyone is going to pick Jimmie Johnson to win this weekend and he probably will. He has won 5 of the last 8 races at Charlotte and finished 2nd to Kasey Kahne in both of the races last season. Kasey hasn’t had a good run at all this year so Jimmie shouldn’t have to worry about him.

The way the NEXTEL Open started on Saturday night the two main concerns this weekend will be tires and of course engine failures. A lot of cars got loose in the Open when they tried to make passes on the inside. Good Year might decide to bring a different tire combination for this weekend’s race to try and curtail the problems from Saturday night. And with this being the longest race of the year I expect to see a lot of blown engines as we get over the 400 and especially the 500-mile point this weekend.

Frontrunners at Lowe’s

Kevin Harvick won the All-Star Challenge and I congratulate him on this accomplishment. Now, can Kevin turn his good fortune into another good run this weekend? Kevin hasn’t had a top 10 run in the 600 since his first start here in 2001 and has had only 3 top 10 finishes in the 12 points races he has run at Charlotte. That leads me to question whether this team can keep up with the changing conditions during the race.

Jeff Gordon had a great car for most of the night Saturday until he ran over some debris and never seemed to have the same car after that. Jeff has only 1 top 10 finish in the last 3 years at Charlotte and most of his other finishes have been worse than 30th during that time. Right now Jeff has the utmost confidence in his team and that goes a long way during a race of this length. Anyone can start out with an ill handling car but they will have all night to get the car dialed in and get back to the front and contend for the win this weekend.

Matt Kenseth is another driver who had a great car all night on Saturday but he got caught speeding on pit road virtually ending his chances at the $1 million first prize. Matt hasn’t won here since the 2000 season but has finished very well in most of the races. If anyone is going to give Jimmie a run for his money this weekend, Matt might be the guy to do it.

Mark Martin quietly put himself in a position to win the All Star Challenge but came up a bit short. He always seems to run well in the 600 and it is because he is so patient. He stays out of trouble early in the race and just keeps adjusting on his car until he has it the way he wants it at the end of the race. With a Hendrick engine this year he might return to victory lane at the track he won the No Bull Million in 2002.

Tony Stewart is another driver who usually runs well at Charlotte. He has struggles a bit in the last few years and some of it might be apprehension from a few crashes he had doing tire testing for Good Year back in 2005. He and Greg Biffle both had hard crashes during the tire test, which made NASCAR go to a smaller fuel cell for the race and had Humpy Wheeler repave the track after the race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggled most of the night Saturday but still came away with a top 10 finish. This might be the race that either propels Junior to the Chase or turns his season into another struggle. I think he will persevere this weekend and come away with another good finish and help his chances for the Chase.

Kurt Busch made a lot of adjustments to his car Saturday and really had it handling well before he got tangles up with his little brother during the last segment of the All-Star Challenge. If Kurt doesn’t have engine or mechanical problems this weekend he could compete for the win. This team is so close to breaking out that it could come at anytime.

Be Ready For Thursday Qualifying!

A few final notes before I give you my picks for this week. First, qualifying is on Thursday. So, make sure you get all of your picks submitted on time this week for any league that you are in that has to have the picks submitted before qualifying. Second, Bill Elliott has come out of retirement to run the next 6 races for the Wood Brothers. Bill will be the latest past champion not in the top 35 in owner points. This will guarantee the #21 car of making the next 6 races, which also means that there will be one less spot for the remainder of the drivers to get to make the race. This is not good for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Yahoo! Fantasy Picks

Group A

  • Jimmie Johnson (starter)
  • Jeff Gordon

Group B

  • Kurt Busch (starter)
  • Mark Martin (starter)
  • Scott Riggs
  • Denny Hamlin

Group C

  • Johnny Sauter (starter)
  • David Ragan