Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fantasy NASCAR: Coca Cola 600

This race is one of my favorite races of the year. It is the longest race distance wise and it comes on the heels of the Indy 500 in the afternoon. A couple years ago drivers such as Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon used to attempt to race both the Indy 500 in the afternoon and then fly to Charlotte to race the Coca Cola 600. A total of 1100 miles in the day. For me this race kicks off summer. It's Memorial Day weekend and it's time to go racing.

We saw last weekend in the All-Star event Tony Stewart capture victory in an exciting race to the finish. It served as a practice run for every team to see how their car would handle at night and allowed them to make the right adjustments before this weekend.

This race will test a driver's abilities and endurance. During the pit stops drivers will be topping off their gas tanks as well as grabbing a bite to eat periodically. It gives a whole new meaning to "Fast Food". Over the 50 year track history, no Toyota has won a Sprint Cup Race. Toyota has claimed victory in the Nationwide Series but never in the big show. Could things change this weekend at the 1.5 mile track? Here are my top 5 drivers for Sunday night's race.

1. Tony Stewart- When you are on a roll and you've just won $1 million, you don't go against the best horse. Stewart just celebrated his 38th birthday and a great way for him to celebrate would to bring home his first official victory for his race team, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart now has 8 top 10 finishes in 11 races this year and will continue his hot streak on Sunday. The winner of the All-Star race has gone on to win the Coca-Cola 600 six times, most recently Kasey Kahne last year.

2. Jimmie Johnson- It seems as if every track the series stops at, Jimmie Johnson is one of the active all-time points leaders at that track. Johnson won here 5 times in a 6 race span from 2003-05. He knows this track and his average finish over the last 10 races here is 7.7. Johnson starts 5th and was 2nd quickest in practice.

3. Ryan Newman- If you saw the end of last week's race you'll know that Ryan Newman found his way to the top with a handful of laps remaining and probably should have won if not for the aggressive driving of Kyle Busch. You have to believe that as Tony Stewart's teammate that he is getting the same information that Tony is and that can only help him. Newman sits on the pole for Sunday night's race and was 9th quickest in the first practice run. I like him to have a great race.

4. Mark Martin- The 50-year old is doing wonders this season and is not letting up anytime soon. Martin is a savvy veteran of this track. He first won here in 1992, or in other words, when Kyle Busch was just 7-years old. What more can you say about this guy? He starts 4th and had the fastest practice session. Over the last 10 races here Martin has raced the 6th most laps, staying in contention each and every time. He is a three-time winner at Lowe's and would love to make it 4.

5. Kasey Kahne- Speaking of 3-time winners, this has to be Kahne's favorite track. 3 of his career 9 victories have come here at Lowe's Speedway including winning the Coca-Cola 600 twice. As defending champion he starts 6th on Sunday night is the only Dodge car to win here since 2003. If you aren't going to go with a Chevy driver I would sit heavily on Kasey Kahne.

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