|Gordon and Kahane are drivers to watch Saturday (Getty)|
The points leader after the first four races of the post season has become champion five times in the Chase era.
Johnson is the active king of Charlotte’s 1.5-mile track – six wins – but finished 11th in May’s Coca-Cola 600, a race won by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne. Keselowski’s fifth-place finish marked his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series top five at CMS. Hamlin finished second.
Matt Kenseth, the Talladega winner, won last year’s Charlotte Bank of America 500.
Five races remain on the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule beginning with Friday’s Dollar General 300. Elliott Sadler holds a nine-point advantage over reigning series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader Austin Dillon is third, 25 points behind Sadler.
With two off weeks on the schedule, Parker Kligerman has time to savor his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Talladega Superspeedway. Kligerman became the season’s record, eighth first-time winner. Championship leaders Ty Dillon and James Buescher both logged top-five finishes at Talladega as Dillon retains a single-point advantage when racing resumes Oct. 27 at Martinsville Speedway.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
Keselowski Adds To Lead As Chase Nears Half Distance
Brad Keselowski is in a good place; the first to hold the points lead in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ and headed for Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he collected his first top-five finish at the track in May’s Coca-Cola 600. Keselowski’s seventh-place finish on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway was his 13th top 10 in his most recent 14 starts and 19th overall.
This Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 marks halfway in the 2012 Chase as Keselowski leads Jimmie Johnson by 14 points and Denny Hamlin by 23. The standings leader after four races has gone on to win the championship five times in the Chase era – Kurt Busch (2004), Tony Stewart (2005) and Johnson (2008-10). Reigning champion Stewart stood seventh a year ago after Race No. 4, 19 points behind Carl Edwards.
Coca-Cola 600 Winner Kahne Stands Out Among Recent Charlotte Winners
There have been eight consecutive different winners at Charlotte Motor Speedway although one name stands out: Kasey Kahne. The first-year Hendrick Motorsports competitor won May’s Coca-Cola 600 and is the most recent to win twice (2008) at the track. Kahne has four victories overall and owns the third-best Driver Rating (97.5) at the 1.5-mile intermediate track behind Johnson (111.0) and Kyle Busch (107.5). He ranks fourth in Chase standings, 36 points behind Keselowski.
Eight of May’s Coca-Cola 600’s top-10 finishers ultimately qualified for the Chase. Hamlin finished second with Greg Biffle fourth and Keselowski fifth. Johnson was 11th. He shares the most Charlotte wins (six) with NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip.
Talladega Winner Kenseth Lags In Chase But Defends In Charlotte
Despite Sunday’s Talladega victory, Matt Kenseth remains a long-shot in search of his second NASCAR Sprint Cup title. Kenseth is 12th, 62 points out of the Chase lead but comes to Charlotte as the defending winner of the Bank of America 500. A two-time Charlotte winner, the driver of Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 17 Ford finished 10th in May. Each of NASCAR’s four manufacturers has scored at least one victory in the track’s most recent seven races.
Busch Wouldn’t Be Surprise Bank of America Party Crasher
It’s difficult to think of Kyle Busch as a "spoiler" but the currently 13th-ranked driver certainly fits the profile this week. Busch has won 10 NASCAR national series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway although he’s yet to visit the track’s Victory Lane in a NASCAR Sprint Cup car. He’s done everything but, posting second or third-place finishes in four of his last five starts. Busch has led 793 laps at Charlotte and boasts a second–best Driver Rating of 107.5. Busch’s third-place Talladega finish was his second top five in four Chase races.
Mark Joey Logano as another non-Chase qualifier with solid marks at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Logano posted top-10 finishes in four of his first five appearances at the track. Until May, when he finished 23rd, Logano had completed every lap of six Charlotte appearances.
-- NASCAR Media Serrvices