Friday, October 10, 2014

Charlotte Practice Notes: Childress and Gibbs cars stepping up their 1.5-mile games

Austin Dillon (100/1) fastest 10-consecutive lap average in happy hour
Fresh off his Kansas win last week, Joey Logano kept the speed and momentum going Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the final practice session in preparation for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500. Logano laid down the fast lap at 190.597 mph, one of only four drivers to top 190 mph during the 80-minute session.

Logano is currently the point leader in this stage of the Chase called The Contender round and is tied for a series-high five wins on the season, two of which came on 1.5-mile tracks. He’s never won at Charlotte before, but does lead all active drivers with a 10.5 average finish. He’s using a chassis that finished third at the second Michigan race and should be dialed in from the start of what is a long and grueling 500-mile event.

During Friday’s early 50-minute practice session, Kurt Busch had the fastest lap at 191.157 mph. The 2010 Coca-Cola 600 winner says he’s using a chassis that was remodeled for this year and the only laps run on it came during a test session at Charlotte last month, but from the looks of the speed he’s producing, he looks as though he stole one of teammate Kevin Harvick’s fast rides.

Busch is already eliminated from the Chase, but he’ll go all out to grab a win for his team, sponsors and fans, and if this car can hold up, we should be seeing him battle for a top-5 finish, or maybe a win. But that’s a big ’if’, because his team just isn’t consistent enough. If Busch had at least one top-5 on 1.5-mile tracks this season, he would have been rated higher than 10th on our chart. Still, he’s one to take notice of and a driver that has the potential to payout great odds if winning.

Harvick gets the top rated driver slot just because we know he’s fast again, the type of fast that can lead a lot of laps led again like he does every week. He’s going to break through on one of these 1.5s before the season is over and he‘s got three chances remaining (Texas and Homestead also) to get it done. He finished second to Jeff Gordon in the Coca-Cola 600 in May and is using a chassis that led the most laps at Atlanta before getting involved in an accident late. Just like most weeks, Harvick had the fastest 10-consecutive lap average during one of the final practices. He's definitely the driver to beat this week.

Richard Childress Racing hasn’t won a race yet this season, but they are coming on strong with Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and a surprisingly fast Austin Dillon. Newman didn’t stand out as well during practices as he did last week at Kansas, but Dillon had the fastest 10-consecutive laps in the final session.

Joe Gibbs Racing also looked fast during Friday’s practice and qualifying as well as Saturday’s practices. The stand-outs were Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin who are both looking for their first Charlotte win. Hamlin had his best cumulative practice sessions of the year on 1.5-mile tracks and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the No. 11 team as they sit fifth in points and have a real chance at shocking the world -- they did win at Homestead to close out 2013.

Kyle Busch starts from the pole, a spot that 13.5 percent of all Charlotte winners have started from, including Jimmie Johnson in May. The most frequent winner from a particular start position is second -- at 15.3 percent, and that’s where Jeff Gordon starts Saturday night.

Read More Here.....Final Driver Ratings

Friday's Practice 2 Speeds

Practice 3 Speeds

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