The 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup hits the half-point this weekend at NASCAR‘s “home track,” Charlotte Motor Speedway, with this Saturday’s running of the Bank of America 500. It’s a good thing the Cup stars are going home, too – a few of the best drivers at the 1.5-mile North Carolina track are in need of the most help after last weekend’s race in Kansas.
Jimmie Johnson – Johnson is a surprising 12th out of 12 drivers after last weekend’s 40th-place finish at Kansas – and 27 points behind Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth, who are tied in seventh. Good thing for Johnson the series is at Charlotte – he leads active drivers with seven wins, and has 17 total top 10 finishes in 26 races. Johnson started and finished fourth last fall, and started on the pole and won in May.
Brad Keselowski – Keselowski is another surprise at the bottom of the Chase barrel after finishing 36th on Sunday in Kansas – currently 22 points behind Gordon and Kenseth. Keselowski is the defending winner of the Bank of America 500, and picked up a 10th-place finish in the spring. He has three top 10 finishes at the track in 10 starts.
Kasey Kahne – Kahne just barely made it into the Chase, and just barely made it into the Contenders Round – now he’s barely outside the eighth-place cut-off point, a mere eight points behind Gordon and Kenseth. Kahne has four wins, three runner-up finishes and 12 top 10 finishes in 21 starts at Charlotte, and ran second to Keselowski last fall; he finished 14th in May.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon is safe – for now. Lucky for him, the race is in Charlotte this week, where he has nine poles, five wins and 23 top 10 finishes in 43 starts – but unlucky for him as well, as he also has 10 DNFs.
Matt Kenseth – Kenseth, who earned his first career win at Charlotte in the 600 in May 2000, didn’t win again until October 2011; he also has 16 top 10 finishes in 30 starts. He finished third in his last two visits (October 2013 and May 2014).
Of note – Dale Earnhardt Jr., who also had problems at Kansas and sits 11th in points, is probably wishing he was heading to another track – he has 11 top 10 finishes in 29 starts, with an average finish of 19.4 – the lowest of the 12 drivers who remain eligible for the Chase. He finished 15th last fall and 19th in May of this year.
Qualifying for the Bank of America 500 is Thursday night at 7:20 p.m. ET, with the race going green Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET. Keep up with the action at www.nascar.com.
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