The top drivers of the 2013 season have convened at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America 500, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 12.
Heading into the big race, Matt Kenseth holds a tenuous three-point lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings over Jimmie Johnson. Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon aren't far behind, and this year's Chase is still wide open with six races left to be contested.
Harvick comes into the race hot, fresh off his impressive victory at Kansas Speedway last weekend, but it is Gordon who will begin the race at the pole, as noted by NASCAR:
There isn't much room for error for the drivers competing for the Sprint Cup, and as such NASCAR fans have been treated to some exhilarating races this past month. This upcoming race should yield more of the same.
When: Saturday, Oct. 12, at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C.
Watch: FS2 (pre-race at 5 p.m.) and ABC (pre-race at 7 p.m. and race at 7:30 p.m.)
Listen: PRN Radio Network and Sirius XM NASCAR radio Channel 90.
|2||Kevin Harvick||29||Chevrolet||Jimmy John's||--0.015|
|4||Jimmie Johnson||48||Chevrolet||Lowe's Dover White||--0.074|
|5||Kasey Kahne||5||Chevrolet||Quaker State||--0.088|
|6||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||88||Chevrolet||Time Warner Cable||--0.111|
|7||Ryan Newman||39||Chevrolet||Quicken Loans||--0.122|
|8||Juan Pablo Montoya||42||Chevrolet||Target||--0.128|
|10||Kurt Busch||78||Chevrolet||Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet||--0.172|
|12||Joey Logano||22||Ford||Shell Pennzoil / Hertz||--0.192|
|13||Paul Menard||27||Chevrolet||Menards / Duracell||--0.224|
|14||Clint Bowyer||15||Toyota||Raspberry 5-Hour Energy benefiting Living Beyond Breast Cancer||--0.229|
|16||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||17||Ford||My Best Buy||--0.281|
|17||Martin Truex Jr.||56||Toyota||NAPA Auto Parts||--0.300|
|18||Denny Hamlin||11||Toyota||FedEx Ground||--0.316|
|19||Brian Scott||33||Chevrolet||Shore Lodge||--0.331|
|20||Matt Kenseth||20||Toyota||Dollar General||--0.335|
|22||Mark Martin||14||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1||--0.366|
|23||Brad Keselowski||2||Ford||Miller Lite||--0.371|
|24||Bobby Labonte||47||Toyota||Scott Products||--0.388|
|27||Brian Vickers||55||Toyota||Aaron's Dream Machine||--0.487|
|28||Casey Mears||13||Ford||No. 13 GEICO Ford Fusion||--0.542|
|30||David Ragan||34||Ford||Taco Bell||--0.578|
|31||Cole Whitt||30||Toyota||Swan Energy||--0.579|
|32||Landon Cassill||40||Chevrolet||Moon Shine Attitude Attire||--0.679|
|33||Josh Wise||35||Ford||MDS Transport||--0.751|
|34||David Gilliland||38||Ford||Long John Silver's||--0.770|
|35||Danica Patrick||10||Chevrolet||GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness||--0.792|
|36||David Reutimann||83||Toyota||Burger King-Dr. Pepper||--0.840|
|37||Michael McDowell||98||Ford||Phil Parsons Racing||--0.868|
|39||Dave Blaney||7||Chevrolet||Breast Cancer Awareness||--0.955|
|40||Timmy Hill||32||Ford||U.S. Chrome||--1.032|
|41||Travis Kvapil||93||Toyota||Dr. Pepper||--1.133|
|42||J.J. Yeley||36||Chevrolet||United Mining Equipment||--1.258|
Will Jeff Gordon Finally Earn a Win?
It's incredible that at this point in the season Gordon is in contention for the Sprint Cup without a single victory to date in 2013.
He's earned his No. 4 spot in the rankings due to a torrid run in the second half of the season. Since his second-place finish in Sonoma back in June, Gordon has tallied 10 top-10 finishes in 15 races—including four top-five finishes.
After he took the pole in Charlotte on Thursday night, it appears Gordon is poised to finally win a race this year, which would put him in excellent position to win his fifth Sprint Cup title.
Given the highly competitive nature of these final races, it's difficult to prognosticate a winner.
Who will win?
Kyle Busch has a history of performing well at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He has topped all drivers in laps led (787) the past 11 races, as noted by Matt Taliaferro of AthlonSports.com, but he hasn't been able to finish on top.
Jimmie Johnson is hot, as is Kasey Kahne, who has been productive at Charlotte in the past.
Current leader Matt Kenseth didn't look sharp in qualifying and will start from the No. 20 spot. Since winning two straight races, he's gotten a bit cold heading down the home stretch, finishing in seventh place at Dover and then in 11th place at Kansas last weekend.
In the end, I believe Gordon will finally get his first win of the season. He's been consistently running well throughout the second half of the season, as was clearly illustrated during qualifying.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78