For most NASCAR teams, Charlotte is home base. Two night races will take place this week, with the Nationwide Series running the Dollar General 300 on Friday at 7:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN2, while the Sprint Cup teams hit the track on Saturday night for the Bank of America 500, with that race airing on ABC at 7:30 p.m.
The focus will be on the No. 20, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Matt Kenseth, who holds a slim three-point lead over the N0. 48, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson. Meanwhile, coming on fast is last week’s winner in Kansas, the No. 29 of Kevin Harvick in the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, followed by Johnson’s teammate Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Chevy.
Both gained positions last weekend at Kansas and are sitting third and fourth in the standings. Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in fifth position 35 points behind his teammate. So at this point with just six races left to go in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, we have 10 drivers separated by a mere 59 points.
A win at Charlotte could give one of the top five drivers some much-needed momentum and even more importantly, separation. At this point, you would have say that Harvick, who won the Coca Cola 600 over the Memorial Day weekend, has the early edge. He is the hot driver with the hot car, and he knows that back-to-back wins could put him in the Chase lead.
But a key point here is that Kenseth has been the master this season on 1.5 mile tracks like Charlotte. I would make him the favorite to drive the pink N0. 20 into Victory Lane this week and put a little distance between himself and the field.
On the Nationwide front in Charlotte, there is really only one question.
Will Austin Dillion and the No. 3, Richard Childress Racing Chevy Camaro be able to hold off the challenge of the No.12 Sam Hornish, Jr. in the Ford Mustang of Penske Racing? These two talented young men are doing a great job of battling at just eight points apart for the Nationwide championship.
A quick note to all fans — look for a great deal of pink this week on all cars, as NASCAR is bringing force a big breast cancer awareness weekend. There will be plenty of information and details on how you can get involved through NASCAR.com and on all the broadcasts this weekend.
Thursday October 11th (All times are Eastern Daylight Time)
3:30 p.m to 5 p.m. Sprint Cup Practice – Fox Sports 1
6p.m. to 7 p.m. Nationwide Series Practice – Fox Sports 2
7:10 p.m. Sprint Cup Qualifing – ESPN2 – Radio – PRN Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR
Friday October 12th (All times are Eastern Daylight Time)
4 p.m. Nationwide Qualifying – Fox Sports 2 Radio -PRN Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR
7:30 pm Nationwide Series Race – Dollar General 300 (200 laps, 300 miles -ESPN 2
Saturday October 12th (All times are Eastern Daylight Time)
7:30 PM Sprint Cup Series Race – Bank of America 500 (334 laps, 501 miles) – ABC TV – Radio – PRN Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR.