Iropers Race Notes:/I Charlotte

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A look at some of the field for the Nextel Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.- Junior has never won a points race at Charlotte though he did win the Winston as a rookie. It’s been pretty much a feast or famine for Junior lately here with three top ten finishes and two finishes of 35th or worse at Charlotte in points races. It was the same way back in the days when Earnhardt ran Busch races here. He had three top 5 finishes and three finishes of 29th or worse.

Jimmie Johnson- You might say Johnson had a pretty productive Speed Week at Charlotte last year. He won the Winston and then went on to win the World 600 which is what we used to call it before soft drink companies took over the world. That win was one of four consecutive top 10 finishes here in points races that include a third place result last fall. By jove, I think he’s got it. Lowes and behold.

Jeff Gordon- Gordon has won three Winstons and four points paying races at Charlotte. He has four straight top 10 finishes here in points races and twelve top 5 finishes in 22 career Cup starts at Charlotte.

Matt Kenseth- Kenseth won his first career Cup victory at Charlotte in the 2000 World 600. He has also finished second in the last two 600s. In nine points starts at Charlotte Kenseth has five top 10 results. Kenseth also has two Busch series wins here including in last May’s event and won last weekend’s All Star Race with a nifty pass on Ryan Newman. Did I just use “nifty” in a sentence?

Tony Stewart- This track has been pretty good to Stewart. He won here last fall and has six top 5 finishes in just ten career points starts at Charlotte. Now if he can just avoid running into anyone or running his mouth…..

Ryan Newman- In six career points starts at Charlotte Newman has won the pole three times. (And oddly enough started fourth the other three times.) Those good starting spots didn’t translate to good finishes in his first three Cup starts here, but in the last three he’s finished eighth, fifth and second. And for good measure he won the 2002 Winston and was a close runner up in last weekend’s All Star race.

Bobby Labonte- Labonte has won two points races here and finished second a total of five times. In his last fourteen points starts he’s finished inside the top 10 twelve times and nine of those finishes were in the top 5. Oh and he won three poles here back in the era before they invented Ryan Newman.

Kevin Harvick- Harvick finished second in his very first Cup start at Charlotte and oddly enough he hasn’t finished that well since. He has three top 10 finishes in six points starts here.

Kurt Busch- Busch has yet to score a top 10 finish in seven Cup starts here, but he has finished twelfth twice. It would help this weekend if he managed to avoid running into the back of any of his teammates.

Elliott Sadler- Sadler’s Cup career at Charlotte would be the basis for a really bad and sad country song. In eleven career starts his best result is seventeenth and he has six finishes of 26th or worse.

Kasey Kahne- Kahne finished sixth and eighth in the Charlotte Busch races last year and finished third earlier this year at Atlanta, Charlotte’s sister track. My guess is he’ll do OK.

Mark Martin- Martin’s last Cup victory was in this race back in 2002. He’s got a total of four wins in points race at Charlotte and won the 1998 Winston. Before hitting some hard times in the last three points races at Charlotte, Martin had an amazing streak from the fall of 1995 until that win in the 2002 600 where he failed to finish in the top 10 just once, and that was a twelfth place result in the 2000 600. Could be a good dark horse pick.

Jamie McMurray- McMurray pretty well set the stock car racing world on its ear when he won at Charlotte in the fall of 2002 in only his second ever career Cup start. He also finished seventh here last fall. And since he’s sponsored by Texaco McMurray might be the only driver who can afford the gas to race 600 miles this Memorial Day weekend.

Rusty Wallace- Rusty Wallace has won here twice in points races but most recently in 1990. I think if the trophy they gave him that day was radioactive it would be safe to drink tap water out of it now. He’s been a bit off his feed here as of late, with just three top 10 finishes in his last eight points starts at Charlotte though he hasn’t suffered a DNF here since 1995.

Sterling Marlin- Marlin won the Charlotte fall race in 2001 but over the course of his career he hasn’t had much to write home about concerning Charlotte. He has just seven top 5 finishes in Charlotte points races in 44 starts. (Four of them scored in a row way back in 1996-1997 Marlin’s most productive Charlotte period.)

Jeremy Mayfield- Compared to Mayfield, Marlin’s career stats at Charlotte are stellar. Mayfield has just one top 5 finish and a total of five top 10 finishes in 20 points starts here. All of those top 10s were scored in 1999, 2000 and the 2001 World 600. In those twenty starts Mayfield has led just 53 laps and has only led two races. Maybe it’s the haircut?

Dale Jarrett- Jarrett has won three points races at Charlotte but the most recent of those was back in 1997 when this sport was so backwards we had two races a year at Rockingham. Since then he’s managed just three top 5 finishes (all of them fifth place results) and he’s led just 40 laps here.

Casey Mears- Mears finished 35th and 42nd here last year. It’s hard to imagine he’d finish any worse than that. Oh, wait a second, he’s never finished a Cup points race here. No, it’s not.

Robby Gordon- Sunday Gordon will attempt to win the Indy 500 and the World 600. Later that evening I will attempt to inhale a piano and a Pinto through my nostrils. We both have about the same chance of success and my airfare will cost less. Gordon has never finished in the top 15 in seven career Cup points starts at Charlotte.

Terry Labonte- Labonte’s only Charlotte points win was scored back in 1996. The track hasn’t been good to him lately as his last top 10 finish here was in 1997. Aw, it was nineteen ninety something…..

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