The Coca-Cola 600 will circle around the Charlotte Motor Speedway, then it'll circle again and again and again. Four-hundred laps, 600 miles, several hours, and probably a few blown engines (right).
The 600 is the longest race on the schedule, yet the 1.5-mile oval isn't nearly the longest (fastest) track, so this race will be a marathon and then some.
Not that I'm deterring you from watching it. After all, you have an extra day this weekend, so there's no excuse that you can't find some time to tune in.
Heck! If we finally see some sun, why not bring the radio out in the yard and take in the race while you finally get that yard cleaned up for Monday afternoon's barbecue? Personally, I love listening to the PRN national syndicate, they make every turn sound like the last lap at Talladega earlier this year.
Then, after 200 miles when you're done landscaping, you can prep dinner with the race on the kitchen TV and set the table in the living room for TV watching. By the time you eat, they'll be about 400 miles in, so you should have enough time to eat, clear the table, wash the dishes, and return to the couch for the last 50 miles!
Simply put: thanks to the 600 miles you're being provided, you can do everything you need to on Sunday while the Sprint Cup Series' drivers chase one another around a mile and a half loop in Charlotte.
Cool! *Thumbs up.* Now that we've planned Sunday, let's plan that fantasy roster.
*In case you're new to this segment, check out my first fantasy post on how the system works.
#17 Matt Kenseth - The two A-listers below were givens, so it came down to the 17 of Kenseth or 18 of Kyle Busch. I gave Kenseth the nod because most people won't be worried about his remaining allocations. He's won two races this year, he won here once in the past, and he's done well in the dark horse roll so far in 2011. This could be a good week to use him if you want to buck the 48x99 trend (especially if you want to try to sneak some points on your league's leader).
#48 Jimmie Johnson - Bored of seeing Johnson always listed as a start-worthy candidate? Then, you must be the same person that gets bored with the storyline of watching one of the greatest drivers of all-time dominate in his prime. He's great almost anywhere, but he's won an absurd six of 19 starts here. I mean, come on!? To quote the race fan in that new Mike's Hard Lemonade ad, "Thats just craaaaazy!"
#99 Carl Edwards - Until further notice, let's just assume each week it's a given that it doesn't matter Edwards' history at any track. The way he's driving right now, there's never criticism for starting him whenever you see fit. Plus, you won't lose any street cred for sub-par victory burnouts.
#29 Kevin Harvick - Harvick has an uninspiring four top-10s in 20 starts with an average finish of 20.1. I'll let you look up NASCAR's driver rating by clicking here if you so choose, but, without boring you, let me point out his 69.8 driver rating in Charlotte is the worst of any the top-12 current drivers.
#4 Kasey Kahne - Kahne has three wins here in fourteen starts, which helps him boast an average finish of 13.5 (well above a career average of 18.4). He's not a guy you'll start every week, so Charlotte would be a great time to use him.
#5 Mark Martin - Who out there took my advice to start him in Dover? Second-place finish, huh? Yeah. You like that!?...Well, go ahead and roll him out again, because some of the top B-listers struggle here. In 52 starts, Martin has four wins and 23 top-10s. Sure, he has 13 DNFs, but that tends to happen from time-to-time when you try to race 600 miles. His driver rating is fifth-overall, so this is another good week to use one of his starts.
#20 Joey Logano - Happy birthday, Joey! This is my present to you. He justifiably earned a black flag from me in last week's midseason report. However, if you can stomach the dredges of the B-list, you might get a healthy return. In four races at Charlotte, Logano has three top-10s and a 13th. Just remember that the risk could easily out weigh the reward. If you're trying to make up ground in the standings on that annoying Kyle Busch fan that's leading the league, this might be a good time to make a fuel only stop with Logano. If you are that guy, take four tires, stay away from Logano and keep pace with the field; you're still winning.
#39 Ryan Newman - Hmm, on second thought, I'm going to list him under "Park" to avoid confusion. See below.
#33 Clint Bowyer - Usually Yahoo! writer Dan Beaver doesn't release the race preview until after I publish my advice. I suppose that with the week off, he got it done early this week, so I gave it a glance. He listed Bowyer as the top pick in the B-group; I'm telling you to stay away. I understand that, like Edwards, you might as well throw the book out on Bowyer, because he's racing better than he ever has before. However, unlike the A-list that has a plethora of point-getters from which to choose, the B-list obviously isn't as deep nor reliable; you can't just bounce allocations around. Bowyer has only three top-10s in 10 starts and an average finish of 17.6. Continue to be patient and save his services for another week. I promise you'll use all nine of his starts!
#39 Ryan Newman - Check out this statistical anomaly. In 20 starts, Newman has nine, that's right nine, poles, along with two starts the front row's second spot and three starts from fourth. Thus, from a fantasy standpoint, he's earned qualifying points in 14 of 20 races. However, the car he unloads from the truck isn't the same one he puts back on Sunday evening. Despite 14 starts inside the top-5, he has only seven (half of that amount) finishes in the top-10 with five DNFs and an average finish of 20.4. Be sure to put him on your bench and then park him there for the weekend no matter where he qualifies!
#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Junior has an average finish at Charlotte of 19.9 (far below a career of 16.8) and has just nine top-10s in 23 starts. I mentioned Harvick was last in driver rating among the current top-12 drivers, Earnhardt is 11 of 12. Like Bowyer, you're bound to use all nine allocations but, like Bowyer, this isn't the week to use one.
#6 David Ragan - Ragan wins the weekly battle between him and Paul Menard as the alpha-male. Ragan has a slightly better average finish here (22.1 compared to Menard's 23.9) with two top-10s to Menard's one. I'm also still looking at the momentum Ragan picked up last week by winning the Showdown here last week and advancing to the All-Star Race.
#47 Bobby Labonte - Obviously, he doesn't dominate like he once did, but it's worth noting he has two wins here. The reason I listed him, however, is that his average finish here of 14.1 is much stronger than a career at 18.6. This is one of his strong tracks, so it would be a good time to start him.
#78 Regan Smith - Oh, boy! Three stomachable starters from the C-List!? Has Christmas come early!? No, but if the race lasts as long as my co-worker Nichole claims, Memorial Day might come late!...Oh, yeah, Regan Smith. (Sorry, my mind is wondering.) It's a small sample size, but Smith has an average finish of 18.5 here compared to 26.6 on his career. Of his four starts in Charlotte, Smith has three top-20s and a 23rd; from the C-list, that's pretty manageable.
#27 Paul Menard - ...I guess? I always feel dumb looking at a list of mainly start-and-parkers, trying to find one you might consider starting and telling you why you shouldn't. Especially with Bayne being so fuzzy in the picture (Ouch, that's not a very respectful pun. Get well, buddy!), there are only four drivers worth considering in the C-list. By process of elimination, if the other three are starters, Menard must be parked...Right? Yeah. Sure, I'll go with that.
My preliminary roster
A - JOHNSON (6), Edwards (6)
B - KAHNE (7), MARTIN (5), Earnhardt Jr. (5), Newman (3)
C - SMITH (8), Ragan (5)
*Number in parenthesis are allocations remaining.