Not only is the Sprint Cup Series back under the lights this weekend for a Saturday night fight, but a fight that will take place on home court for all the teams. The Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC hosts the fifth race of the 2009 Chase and it’s in the backyard of NASCAR.
Jimmie Johnson heads to Lowe’s, or "his house" as he calls it, with the points lead for the first time this year after picking up his fifth win of the year last weekend in California. Johnson though, hasn’t won at Lowe’s since 2005, when taking home the checkered flag in this event.
Most of our Creatures are in desperate need of wins to climb back in championship contention. It has become a three-Creature race but it’s a long way from being over with six races remaining.
This week they’ll be looking for the driver can that get it down under the lights in front of friends and family.
Ben Bomberger: Tony Stewart
I'm expecting a few Johnson's this week, so I'm going against the grain and picking Smoke to visit Victory Lane and get back into the hunt for a third championship. Stewart has one win, six top-fives, 11 top-10s and an average finish of 13.3 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
He collected his first "win" as an owner at the All-Star race earlier this season and will be racing hard Saturday under the lights to keep Johnson from extending his points lead.
James Broomhead: Ryan Newman
I picked him for the Coca-Cola 600 in May at this track and rain got in the way of a chance at victory. Actually, rain and David Reutimann got in the way, so why not try my luck with Newman again this weekend.
Mary Jo Buchanan: Mark Martin
Charlotte is NASCAR's home game and there is no one better to shine than "The Kid.”
Kelly Crandall: Kasey Kahne
Kahne dominated the Atlanta race just a few weeks ago, a track that is considered the sister track to Lowe’s. If Kahne wants to salvage his Chase that has gone downhill, this is the track to do it, a place that he’s won at before and has always run well at.
Mason Dunn: NO PICK SENT
No pick sent.
Adam Heasley: NO PICK SENT
No pick sent.
Danielle Henderson: Kasey Kahne
Normally I wouldn't pick Kasey Kahne, but in the past weeks Kahne has been finishing well. He may not have the best run, but he sure does find his way up front quickly and I hope this week he can stay there.
Kara Martin: Kasey Kahne
No comments sent.
SM Napier: Kasey Kahne
Kahne has won three of the last seven races at the track, always qualifies well, and should have another great race at the track.
David Phillips: NO PICK SENT
No pick sent.
Jen Preston: Juan Pablo Montoya
Montoya doesn't have a top five in Charlotte—shoot he only has one finish better than 28th (an eighth place effort earlier this year)—but he's my championship and race pick.
Montoya’s average finish in the Chase thus far is 3.5, and despite his poor finishes at Lowe’s in the past, I look for Montoya to continue making championship strides and make a statement under the lights in Charlotte.
Rob Tiongson: Kasey Kahne
It seems like Kahne has some of his 2006 groove back and based on how he raced in Atlanta last month—by winning—I look for him to duplicate his success with a win at Lowe's. The title may be out of reach for the No.9 team, but a Chase effort with wins and solid finishes is not out of the question.
After Jimmie Johnson’s victory last weekend here’s a look once again at how the point standings shake up.
Ben Bomberger (5,699 ) Jeff Gordon finished second (3 )
Mary Jo Buchanan (-20 ) Jimmie Johnson won (1 )
Kara Martin (-74 ) Jeff Gordon finished second (3 )
David Phillips (-144 ) Jeff Gordon finished second (2 )
Jen Preston (-145 ) Carl Edwards finished sixth (1 )
Mason Dunn (-146 ) Jeff Gordon finished second (0 )
Kelly Crandall (-155 ) Greg Biffle finished 20th (2 )
Rob Tiongson (-188 ) NO PICK SENT (2 )
James Broomhead (-235 ) NO PICK SENT (3 )
SM Napier (-364 ) NO PICK SENT (2 )
Danielle Henderson (-514 ) NO PICK SENT (2 )
Adam Heasley (-669 ) NO PICK SENT (3 )
Jimmie Johnson leads the point standings for the first time in 2009 from teammate Mark Martin. Both Johnson and Martin are multiple race winners are Lowe’s, thus far in the Chase Johnson has an average finish of 3.8 while Martin has a 3.5 after four races.
Jeff Burton will start his 850th NASCAR race this weekend when he climbs aboard his No.29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series. Burton has 21 career Sprint Cup victories since his first NASCAR start in March of 1988 at the Martinsville Speedway.