Charlotte Motor Speedway News

In all of NASCAR, there is nothing like Talladega Superspeedway, a mammoth 2.66-mile track with 33 degrees of banking in the corners. NASCAR founder Big Bill France was the man who made Talladega a reality, with the first race run in 1969 marked by a boycott of the sport’s top drivers, who found the tires unsafe for 200 mph laps. Back in April 1987, before NASCAR adopted power-robbing restrictor plates to bring speeds under control, Bill Elliott qualified at Talladega at an astonishing 212.809 mph, a speed never equaled since. Talladega has always produced more than its share of upset, upstart race winners, from Richard Brickhouse to James Hylton, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard, Phil Parsons, Jimmie Spencer and Brad Keselowski in 2009. How unpredictable is Talladega? Just three active racers have multiple victories here, all Hendrick Motorsports teammates: Jeff Gordon (6), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5) and Mark Martin (2). In fact, given the nature of “The Big One,” the large, multi-car accidents that so often happen at Talladega, handicapping the field here is rather difficult. In the last two years, however, two men have established themselves as the men to beat at plate tracks: Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray. Harvick finished first and second at the two Talladega races last year, as well as winning his second straight Budweiser Shootout and the July race at Daytona International Speedway. McMurray won the 2010 Daytona 500 and was second to Harvick here last spring. Stay away from Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth. David Ragan, on the other hand, has three finishes of sixth or better in his last six Talladega starts. Although he has one Talladega victory, Kyle Busch’s average finish is 23.33 here.

CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY — Another track with a colorful history, CMS was built in 1960 by Bruton Smith and former NASCAR superstar Curtis Turner. But the track went bankrupt the following year, and Smith lost ownership, staying away until he was recruited by subsequent owners in the mid-1970s. CMS, a 1.5-mile quad oval layout, is notable for some of the innovations it brought to NASCAR. It was the first superspeedway to install a multi-million-dollar Musco lighting system, which allowed nighttime race. The first race under the lights at CMS was the 1992 All-Star race, where Davey Allison won the race while he literally was unconscious, having been knocked out in a last-lap crash with Kyle Petty. In addition, CMS was the first NASCAR track to build permanent condominiums trackside, and this year the track will install the world’s largest video screen on the backstretch. From 2003 to 2005, Jimmie Johnson won five of six races at CMS, which is located just two miles away from Hendrick Motorsports. But while Johnson is still one of the favorites whenever the Cup Series rolls into CMS, he has won only since the track was resurfaced in 2006. Johnson’s teammates Jeff Gordon (5 victories) and Mark Martin (4 victories) are good here, as is Kasey Kahne, who has three points race victories at CMS, as well as a victory in the Sprint All-Star Race. Bobby Labonte loves this place, too, having won twice and posted 12 top-five finishes here. And Jeff Burton is a three-time winner at CMS. Fantasy players should stay away from Kevin Harvick, who despite an All-Star victory, has a 20.05 average finish here. Even worse is Juan Pablo Montoya, whose average result at CMS is a disheartening 27.63.

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Daryn Weatherman Takes on Business of Racing with Weatherman Motorsports


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