|Kyle Busch won the All-Star Race in May.|
The second stage of NASCAR's Playoffs begins Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the first of three races in the Round of 12. This is perhaps the most interesting stage of the playoffs just because of the randomness of Talladega Superspeedway being involved next week where no driver is safe from being involved in a wreck.
However, sandwiched outside Talladega are two 1.5-mile tracks -- Sunday at Charlotte and October 22 at Kansas Speedway. We've seen seven races on 1.5-mile tracks already this season and Martin Truex Jr. has been dominant on all of them winning four of his fives races this season. That includes the past two races on 1.5-mile tracks at Chicagoland to kick off the Chase and at Kentucky on July 8. He also won at Las Vegas and Kansas and led the most laps in both.
He didn't win the May 28 race at Charlotte, but he did lead a race-high 233 laps before finishing third. Austin, who just got eliminated from the playoffs, won the Coca-Cola 600 on fuel strategy for his first career Cup win. Sunday's race is 100 miles shorter.
Last season it was Jimmie Johnson who won this race on his way to his seventh Cup championship. Last week at Dover, Jimmie Johnson had his first top-five in 16 races. Maybe Johnson has found some speed, or maybe he just loves Dover where he owns a track record 11 wins.
“We were so fast off the truck last weekend in Dover and with a third-place finish, have some good momentum heading into Charlotte," Johnson said. "We’re still looking for that sweet spot and need to start leading some laps but I have a ton of faith in my Lowe’s team. They never quit.”