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Fantasy Racing: Charlotte

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, October 15 2009

Bank of America 500
Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Saturday October 17th,7:30 PM ET, ABC

LOGO-03-09-0596_C2-ARace Facts: I wasn’t going to call this the NASCAR Banking 500 only from Bank of America because sorry, that’s just stupid. That’s almost as bad as the Goulds Pumps ITT Industries Salute to the Troops 250 Presented by Dodge… Mike Wallace and the Gunselman Motorsports team saw the writing on the wall and withdrew from the race. That leaves 47 cars for 43 spots, including past champions Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott… 41 of the 101 races at Lowe’s have been won from a top three starting position. If I was a betting man, I’d say that Jimmie Johnson and Juan Pablo Montoya are going to be in two of those three spots… Ernie Irvan led for 328 laps in the 1995 fall race at Lowe’s and that’s just seven laps off the record for most laps led by a winner in the 600 mile race… If either Johnson or Jeff Gordon win Saturday night, they will tie Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip with the most victories at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with six.

Drivers to Watch:

Kyle Busch: Shrub is due for a good finish, and given his recent history at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, it will happen Saturday night. After starting off terribly at the track with five finishes of 25th or worse in his first six starts, Busch has three top fives in the last five races as well as a sixth place finish. Busch should be healthy and mad about the events of the last few weeks, so that pink M&Ms car should be up front and leading laps.

Joey Logano: Logano finished ninth in the Coca Cola rain-shortened 600 in May and has steadily gotten a better feel for the Sprint Cup car every week at intermediate tracks. Yeah, Logano finished 28th at Kansas, but that was not because he spun off of turn two on lap two but rather the damage that he received checking up from a wreck in front of him on lap seven. (Of course, one could argue that had Logano not spun in the first place he would have been ahead of the wreck.) While he’s certainly a threat to win on Friday night, he’s not on Saturday, but a top 10 is possible.

Marcos Ambrose: The Tasmanian Devil was a victim of circumstances in those late race melees at California, and his 23rd place finish is not nearly indicative of the way that he ran. Like Logano, Ambrose has been slowly improving on the intermediate tracks, and Ambrose is starting to catch David Reutimann on the ovals. And also like Logano, Ambrose isn’t going to win on Saturday, but he’s got a great chance at a good finish.

Drivers to Watch Out For:

Brian Vickers: What the heck has happened to Vickers? Normally he’d be in the section above at an intermediate track, but it seems that Team Red Bull used up everything that they had to get into the Chase, and that the cupboard is bare for the final 10 races. Finishes of 37th and 29th at the first two big ovals of the Chase would have been unthinkable for this team after Richmond. But, apparently they’re missing on something, and you’re best advised to stay away from Vickers until they right the ship.

Ryan Newman: Sure, Newman finished second in the Coke 340.5 in May, but if you look at the previous seven Lowe’s Motor Speedway races—all of which have gone the distance—Newman’s best finish is a pair of 21sts. That’s not good.

David Reutimann: Reutimann’s win in the spring was a fluke and he’s not going to repeat it on Saturday. In fact, he won’t even get a top 15. Of course, now that I’ve said that, he’ll go on and have a great car.

Stone Cold Lock of the Week:

Juan Pablo Montoya: Simply, he’s due. I don’t think I could go wrong with any of the top five drivers in the points standings, but Montoya has been consistently as fast as Johnson and Mark Martin, and if he can have some quick pit stops, he’ll be in Victory Lane and even closer to the points lead.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, October 15 2009
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