Matts Charlotte Handicaps

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2002 World 600 Handicaps

Sterling Marlin- Historically this hasn’t been a great track for Marlin. He’s scored a top 10 finish in only one of the last ten Cup races at Charlotte. But put aside history for a moment. Last Fall, Marlin not only won the Charlotte race, he dominated it, with only Tony Stewart able to even run close to him. As Don Henley might say, “Things are different now.”

Matt Kenseth- Kenseth scored his first ever Cup victory in the 2000 World 600. He also finished 9th here that fall. Right now Matt’s pit crew is on, and in a 600 mile race that can make a big difference.

Kurt Busch- Busch averaged a 17th place finish here last year in his rookie season. Had best keep an eye on his rearview mirror for the 31 car because Robby Gordon can use “Indy Fatigue” as an excuse to punt Kurt into the cheap seats.

Mark Martin- Martin is a three time winner in Charlotte points races (he’s also won the Winston) with the most recent victory in 1998. In the last ten points races at Charlotte he’s finish in the top 5 eight times. His other finishes were 9th and 12th so Mark would make a good dark horse pick this weekend.

Rusty Wallace- Wallace is a two time Charlotte winner, back in 1988 and 1990. (I think his driver’s uniform had bell bottoms back then.) Usually runs well here with six top 12 finishes in the last ten Charlotte points races.

Jeff Gordon- Gordon scored his first Winston Cup victory in the 1994 World 600 and has won three more points races and three Winstons since. Has eight career World 600 poles, one shy of David Pearson’s all time record, so a good starting spot shouldn’t be a problem. Just as a friendly reminder, Jeff, don’t forget to set that alarm clock to make practice.

Jimmie Johnson- Johnson finished 39th in his first Charlotte points race last fall. But he dominated the first two segments of last Saturday’s Winston, and may feel he has some unfinished business with the track after the third segment.

Tony Stewart- If you believe in numerology this is Tony’s race. He finished 4th, 3rd and 2nd in the last three Charlotte points races respectively, so the next step is 1st. Doesn’t have the distraction of running Indy this year though if a helpful reporter reminds Stewart of that in Victory Lane he’ll probably get punched right in the yap.

Jeff Burton- In a miserable early 2001 season for Roush racing, Burton provided the first ray of hope with a victory in last year’s World 600, the second 600 the younger Burton brother has won. Normally runs very well here with nine finishes of 11th or better in the last ten points races at Charlotte.

Ricky Rudd- Rudd arrives at Charlotte this weekend looking to set one mark and end a slump. Rudd will become NASCAR’s Ironman with 656 consecutive Winston Cup starts, eclipsing Terry Labonte’s record. But in those 656 starts Rudd has never won a points race at Charlotte. His third place effort here in the fall of 2000 was his best ever Charlotte finish.

Bill Elliott- Elliott has been absent from Charlotte Victory Lane even longer than Rusty Wallace. His two wins here were back in 1984 and 1987, when presumably the 9 car still had an eight-track player. The track hasn’t been kind of late to Bill with his last top 10 finish occurring here back in 1997.

Dale Earnhardt Junior- Junior counts winning the 2000 Winston in his rookie season as his most memorable career achievement to date. He’s less inclined to talk about the following week’s World 600 where he dominated only to be done in by a mismatched set of tires that relegated him to a fourth place finish. Clearly had a fast car Saturday night, so don’t count him out. Junior also made his Winston Cup debut in this race back in 1999.

Ryan Newman- Newman won the pole for this race last year, then promptly spun himself out shortly after the race started and finished 43rd. Clearly had a strong car last Saturday night and momentum is on his side.

Ward Burton- Burton has finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven Charlotte points races.

Dale Jarrett- Jarrett is a two time Charlotte winner (1996 and 1997) and usually runs well here. Top 10 finishes in seven of the last nine Charlotte points events.

Ricky Craven- Charlotte hasn’t been kind to Craven. His last five Charlotte attempts have yielded one DNQ and four finishes of 31st or worst. Can he fight the Tide this weekend?

Terry Labonte- Labonte won here back in 1996 but has only finished in the top 10 once since (1997 at Charlotte).

Michael Waltrip- Waltrip hasn’t finished better than 13th in the last 10 Charlotte points races. Did win a Winston here.

Jeremy Mayfield- Mayfield had five straight top 10 finishes at Charlotte prior to last fall when he sat out the event after having been released by Penske. Mayfield won the Open Saturday night.

Jimmy Spencer- Spencer has only two top 10s in the last ten Charlotte points races.

Others to Watch-

Bobby Labonte- Labonte could be a sleeper threat this weekend. Bobby won his first ever Cup race here back in 1995 and also won here in 2000. What’s more in the last ten Cup races has seven top 5 finishes and a total of nine top 10s.

Robby Gordon- Probably not a threat to win, but it will be interesting to see how he holds up under the Indy-Charlotte double ordeal.

Kevin Harvick- Both Harvick’s Winston Cup starts at Charlotte have yielded top 10 finishes with a best of second place in this race last year.

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2002

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