Each week, I will rank the top 20 drivers based on overall performance during that week’s race combined with their position in the overall standings. Consideration will also be given to driver’s who demonstrate consistency over an extended period of time during the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season.
1. Matt Kenseth- Wisconsin’s finest gave it all he had, and then some at Kansas. Unfortunately all he could muster up was a less than stellar 11th place finish. But considering the circumstances most drivers don’t have the talent of a Matt Kenseth to make an ill handling race car look rather decent. Look at the big picture at least he leaves Kansas with a slim point lead.
Matt Kenseth has won 2 races (2000, 2011) in 28 career starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
2. Jimmie Johnson- Lately it’s like Jimmie Johnson is a shark who’s spotted blood in the water. He’s moving in rather swiftly for the kill with solid finishes of 5th, 4th, 1st, and 6th to kick off the chase.
Johnson has 6 career victories in 24 career starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway; however he hasn’t won at Charlotte since the fall of 2009.
3. Kevin Harvick- Since the day Harvick announced he would be leaving RCR for SHR at the end of the 2013 season, he’s maintained his innocence that 2013 would be no lame duck season. Give the man some credit if anything he’s been completely honest. Harvick’s 3rd win of the season at Kansas catapulted the 29 bunch right back into the title fight.
Harvick is Charlotte Motor Speedway’s most recent winner as he won the Coca Cola 600 this past May.
4. Jeff Gordon- Growing up most NASCAR aficionado’s more than likely loved to despise the captain of the rainbow warriors, but his recent inspirational march to the front of the NSCS standings demands maximum respect. Yes, that includes you Dale Earnhardt Sr followers.
Jeff Gordon owns 5 victories in 41 career Charlotte Motor Speedway starts.
5. Kyle Busch- As predicted Kansas Speedway found a way to take a bite out of Kyle Busch’s championship dreams one more time. For those of you expecting him to roll over don’t bet the house on it.
Kyle Busch has finished inside the top 10 in 10 of the last 12 NSCS races run at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Dale Jr’s performed incredibly well in 3 of the 4 races he’s run in the chase. One can only dream where he’d be in the standings if not for a crushing 35th place finish at Chicagoland.
Milestone watch- Dale Jr. will make his 500th NSCS start Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Can he match fellow 2000 ROTY classmate Matt Kenseth and win in his 500th start?
7. Joey Logano- Making the most out of a tremendous opportunity is what’s at stake for the remainder of Joey Logano’s inaugural chase appearance. Good news for Roger Penske thus far he’s measuring up.
Joey Logano has finished inside the top 10 6 times in 9 career Charlotte Motor Speedway starts.
8. Kurt Busch- In the spirit of good taste Kurt Busch continues to fight for FRR despite his impending departure from the Colorado based company at the end of 2013. As the 2013 campaign winds down Kurt & FRR look poised to finally capture that elusive victory they’ve been chasing since late last season. Kurt has finished 2nd in 2 of the last five races.
Kurt qualified 2nd and finished 3rd in this season’s Coca Cola 600.
9. Greg Biffle- Depending on how you interpret the glass half full or glass half empty idiom, Greg Biffle is no closer or farther to the top of the NSCS standings then he was one week ago.
Biffle has no wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 21 career starts.
10. Carl Edwards- Once and for all Carl Edwards has to nix this good race/bad race trend if he wants to finish the year off with a respectable finish in the final standings.
Carl’s best Charlotte Motor Speedway finish is 3rd on three different occasions (05, 06, 11)
11. Clint Bowyer- Although they won’t admit it Clint Bowyer & the 5 Hour Energy team are looking forward to 2014. Can you believe this group was 2nd in standings only 6 weeks ago?
Bowyer is the defending Bank of America 500 champion.
12. Ryan Newman- When Ryan Newman’s tenure at SHR comes to an end at Homestead Miami in November he can walk away with a smile because amidst a year of chaos he’s done magnificently. Clearly the rocket man outperformed the boss and the Go Daddy girl this season.
Ryan has 9 career poles in 25 Charlotte Motor Speedway starts.
13. Kasey Kahne- Kasey’s 2013 season will be remembered as a hodgepodge of complete disaster, flashes of brilliance, and some breath taking moments.
Kahne has 4 wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 19 career starts.
14. Brad Keselowski- So Paul Wolfe decided to take another long shot gamble in order to net Brad Keselowski his first win of the season. In theory great call, but in reality they still left Kansas Speedway with a zero in the win column.
15. Martin Truex Jr.- Exit Napa! Exit Chad Johnston! Now how long before Martin Truex Jr politely says to Michael Waltrip thanks, but no thanks. I’m going to seek other employment options for 2014.
16. Jamie McMurray- Surely Jamie Mac can win at Charlotte this weekend; he’s been known to pull of major upsets in this particular event in the past.
17. Paul Menard- Should Paul Menard find a way to score two more top 10’s in the remaining 6 races of the season, he would surpass his previous career high of 9 set in 2012.
18. Jeff Burton- The complexion of the mayor’s season would look mighty different if you erase the miserable luck he’s experienced on track in 2013.
Jeff Burton won the Bank of America 500 in 2008. Since then he has failed to crack the top 10 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
19. Marcos Ambrose- I know we’ve all grown slightly irritated with Marcos Ambrose’s inability to finally score a victory on an oval, but if he fights hard the way he did at Kansas this past weekend. Then a victory on an oval is surely not too far away.
Marcos has finished inside the top 10 in 3 of the last 5 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
20. Aric Almirola- The king’s young gun quietly had himself a pretty solid campaign. Once they find a way to be more consistent on a weekly, basis then they may have a legitimate chance at making the chase.
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