May 30, 2012
By Chuck Abrams
What a day of racing.
IndyCar Racing's Dario Franchitti wins his third Indy 500, plus comes in second to Juan Pablo Montoya in fan voting for the greatest Ganassi Racing driver, and Kasey Kahne pulls off a nice win for himself at the Coca-Cola 600.
Kahne’s win was not a stunning upset or anything close to that. He runs well at Charlotte and has been running better after stumbling out of the gate early this year. So I think it is safe to say that Kahne is back.
Hendrick Motorsports nearly placed all four cars in the top 10 but a late pit road mistake cost Johnson a possible win and a definite top 5.
The biggest disappointment for me in the race was Joey Logano. Charlotte is by far one of his best tracks and to finish 23rd was a huge letdown. Logano needed a good run and needs to run well all year to keep his stock as high as possible. At this pace, I think Logano is going to be in some trouble.
Greg Biffle led much of the early going but was no match for Kahne as the track changed after the sun went down. But Biffle still finished fourth and still leads the points over teammate Kenseth by ten. I am surprised at Biffle’s staying power this year. I did not see this in him. Maybe I have been dulled by his past roller coaster seasons where he has faded after so much early hope. If Biffle can pull off a championship this year, he will be the only driver with a title in all three of NASCARs top series. Now that would be something to brag about.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has faded a bit in the standings just 18 points back of Biffle but with Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin moving past him in the points. Earnhardt needs a win to keep his seeding high in the final half of the regular season before the Chase starts. He started well in this race last year but he needs to finish better.
Man, that is starting to sound like a broken record. Earnhardt needs a top 5 to keep pace with the front runners and stay ahead of teammate Jimmie Johnson. He has a little bit of a cushion over Johnson but that won’t last long. The only upcoming track where he is better than Johnson is at Michigan. So Dale Jr. needs to make hay while the sun shines.
Next up is Dover International Speedway where Roush-Fenway Racing does pretty well. Kenseth won this upcoming race last year and he is looking like the driver to most challenge Biffle right now. Biffle finished this race in 19th past year although he typically is a top 10 finisher at Dover. This could be a sneaky race to pick Carl Edwards for your fantasy team. He usually runs well here even though this has been a lackluster season so far for Smilin’ Carl.
Kahne may come back to earth this weekend. He is a decent qualifier at Dover but not a strong finisher. Kahne will be fortunate if he can place a top 15 at Dover.
Jeff Gordon is in the same boat. After a decent run in the 600, he will need a really strong run to back that up at Dover. In the past five years, Gordon has only two top 10 finishes at Dover, so I would not recommend him for any fantasy team this week.
Johnson is going to be a hot play this weekend for fantasy teams. You can almost guarantee a top 12 run out of him and he sat on the pole for this race last year.
I would also recommend a hard look at Marcos Ambrose. He ran well at Dover last year and started the Coca-Cola 600 on the front row only to succumb to a mechanical failure.
Have a great short week at work!
Drive fast, turn left and keep the shiny side up.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.