Fantasy NASCAR Picks for the Coca-Cola 600

Chad Robb@@MrFantasyNASCARCorrespondent IMay 22, 2012

Fantasy NASCAR Picks for the Coca-Cola 600

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    Fantasy NASCAR players got a week off from points racing to watch the Sprint Cup All-Star race. The race is a preview of what is to come this Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

    The fantasy NASCAR players who paid attention to the race last Saturday night will have an advantage this week. If you did not have a chance to watch the Sprint Cup All-Star race, don't worry—I have you covered.

    After two weeks of failing to reach the 300-point mark, my team bounced back at Darlington. I started Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Greg Biffle and Bobby Labonte in the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game. The lineup was good enough for 321 points (3,243 total points for the season) and kept my team in the top 99 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing players (ranked No. 241 overall out of 205,000).

    This week, it is back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600.

    The most important thing to know for fantasy NASCAR players in the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game is that your team must be selected by early Thursday morning. Unfortunately, fantasy NASCAR players will not have an opportunity to watch any practice sessions before their team must be selected.

    Here are my picks for the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game.

Yahoo! Group a Drivers

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    To win the Coca-Cola 600, the NASCAR team must be able to start the race with a good car, keep up with the changing track conditions and have a driver with the stamina to make it to the end of the 600-mile race.

    Charlotte Motor Speedway is considered an intermediate tri-oval racetrack, and the racetracks at Las Vegas and Kansas are similar to Charlotte. The drivers with the best average on intermediate tri-ovals this year are: Jimmie Johnson (2.5), Tony Stewart (7.0), Carl Edwards (7.0), Kevin Harvick (8.5), Denny Hamlin (10.5), Matt Kenseth (13.0), Kyle Busch (16.5), Jeff Gordon (17.0) and Brad Keselowski (21.0).

    I will provide my picks in this article, but do not forget to head over to my Fantasy NASCAR Tips page on Facebook for all of the updated information. I will have my final selections for my team on Sunday morning.

    Here are my selections for the Yahoo! Group A:

    Jimmie Johnson

    Jimmie Johnson was by far the class of the field in last week's Sprint Cup All-Star race. It would have been nice to see Johnson race hard for the 90 laps, but the rules allowed him to race at the back until it was time to claim the $1 million.

    From 2003–2005, Johnson owned the races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, winning five of the six races in that timeframe.

    Recently, Johnson has been good, but not great.

    Johnson has a series-best average running position of 8.4, a series-high 451 fastest laps run, a series-best average green flag speed of 176.429 mph, a series-high 4,201 laps in the top 15 and a series-high 714 quality passes.

    I think this means that Johnson is the best pick for your team this week.

    Kyle Busch

    Kyle Busch won the pole for the Sprint Cup All-Star race Saturday night, and then went on to lead the first 14 laps. Busch finished fourth in the All-Star race and should finish in a similar position on Sunday.

    Busch has momentum coming into the Coca-Cola 600. He has a streak of three top-five finishes and a streak of five top-11 finishes coming into Sunday's race.

    Charlotte Motor Speedway has been one of Busch's better racetracks. He has the second-best average running position of 10.3, the second-most fastest laps run of 385, the second-fastest green flag speed of 176.284, the second-most laps in the top 15 of 3,836 and his 696 quality passes are the second-most.

    Busch is the best pick behind Johnson.

    Other Good Picks: Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick

Yahoo! Group B Drivers

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    Group B will be hard to choose from this week. Many of the good drivers in Group B only have average results at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

    Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. have been three of the best drivers in Group B this year. I am saving my allocations for them and decided to use drivers whom I have not used as much this season.

    Here are my selections for Yahoo! Group B:

    Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s winless streak should have ended at 105 races with a win in last year's Coca-Cola 600. Earnhardt was leading the race, but ran out of fuel a half-mile from the checkered flag.

    I do not see that happening again this Sunday.

    Earnhardt has either been very good nor very bad at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In his 25 career starts at the racetrack, Earnhardt has 10 top-10 finishes, but he also has 10 finishes of No. 20 or worse.

    Earnhardt is having the best season of his career in 2012. He won the Sprint Cup Showdown race and the fourth segment of the All-Star race last Saturday night. I would not be surprised to see Earnhardt's winless streak end on Sunday.

    Kasey Kahne

    Kasey Kahne is starting to turn his season around.

    Kahne has a streak of five straight top-10 finishes. This is one of his best racetracks, too; in his 16 career starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kahne has three wins, six top-five finishes, eight top-10 finishes and led 711 laps.

    Kahne also has a series-high 1,141 green flag passes, the fourth-best average running position of 13.4, and his 364 fastest laps run are the third-most.

    He will easily finish in the top 10 in the race on Sunday.

    A.J. Allmendinger

    A.J. Allmendinger is another driver who had a great night in the Sprint Cup All-Star race.

    Allmendinger won the pole for the Showdown race, and then got a flat tire on the pace lap to begin the race. He had to come into the pits and get tires as the race began. Most fans thought Allmendinger was out of the race, but he managed to stay on the lead lap and finish in the second transfer spot.

    Allmendinger had a fast car last Saturday night, and I think he will again on Sunday. I would not be surprised to see him win the pole for the Coca-Cola 600.

    Joey Logano

    Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of Joey Logano's best racetracks. In his six career starts, Logano has two top-five finishes and four top-10 finishes. His worst finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway is No. 13.

    Logano has the eighth-fastest green flag speed of 175.503, the third–best average running position of 13.0 and his average finishing position is 8.2

    The Coca-Cola 600 has a habit of producing unexpected race winners. In 2007, Casey Mears won his first race, and in 2009, David Reutimann won the race. Logano might not be the favorite to win the race, but I would not be surprised to see the No. 20 car in victory lane on Sunday.

    Other Good Picks: Biffle, Newman, Marcos Ambrose, Truex Jr. and Jeff Burton

Yahoo! Group C Drivers

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    Don't be fooled by the stats of some of the drivers in Group C.

    David Reutimann won the Coca-Cola 600 before, and David Ragan has the seventh-best average finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the last four races. Both drivers do not have the equipment they had when they ran well at the racetrack.

    Here are my selections for Yahoo! Group C:

    Trevor Bayne

    I am sticking with my philosophy of, if the race is on an intermediate racetrack and Trevor Bayne is entered in the race, I am starting him.

    Yahoo! fantasy NASCAR players can only start a driver nine times throughout the season, and I plan to use Bayne whenever I can.

    Bayne has never run the Coca-Cola 600, but he did drive in the fall race at Charlotte Motor Speedway last season. He finished the race No. 31, but I think he will finish much higher this week.

    Bayne, David Ragan and Bobby Labonte are the only Group C drivers who competed in the Sprint Cup All-Star race last Saturday night. Bayne finished the highest out of the three when he finished No. 15, and his experience from Saturday night's race will help in the race on Sunday.

    Aric Almirola

    Aric Almirola has been the best driver in Group C all season. Ever since Mike Ford took over the crew chief duties for the No. 43 car, Almirola has performed well.

    Almirola has never raced in a Sprint Cup Series points race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He started No. 5 and finished No. 7 in the Sprint Cup Showdown race last Saturday. The good news for Almirola is that he has 400 laps to figure out the racetrack, and he will finish in the top 25.

    Other Good Picks: Ragan, Reutimann, Labonte and Casey Mears

Charlotte Motor Speedway Facts

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    Last Sprint Cup Race: Oct. 15, 2011, won by Matt Kenseth

    Won from the Pole: 14 times, last by Jimmie Johnson in 2009

    Won from Top-Five Starting Position: 61 times (58 percent)

    Won from Top-10 Starting Position: 81 times (76 percent)

    Won from 21st or Worse Starting Position: Eight times (8 percent)

    Wins by Active Manufacturers in Last 10 Years: Chevy (12), Ford (2), Toyota (1), Dodge (5)

    Best Average Finish and Driver Rating by Active Driver in Last Four Races at Charlotte

    1. Kevin Harvick 6.5 average

    93.5 driver rating

    1. Matt Kenseth 7.75 average

    112.1 driver rating

    1. Joey Logano 8.75 average

    89.7 driver rating

    1. Kyle Busch 9.75 average

    112.2 driver rating

    1. Denny Hamlin 10.25 average

    98.7 driver rating

    1. Carl Edwards 11.5 average

    96.5 driver rating

    1. David Ragan 11.75 average

    94.1 driver rating

    1. Kurt Busch 12.0 average

    93.4 driver rating

    1. A.J. Allmendinger 12.0 average

    89 driver rating

    10.  David Reutimann 12.25 average

    91.3 driver rating

    11.  Tony Stewart 15.25 average

    89.3 driver rating

    12.  Marcos Ambrose 15.50 average

    81.2 driver rating

    13.  Clint Bowyer 15.75 average

    79.7 driver rating

    14.  Greg Biffle 16.25 average

    93.2 driver rating

    15.  Regan Smith 16.25 average

    66.5 driver rating

    *Driver ratings include finish, average running position, average speed and number of fastest laps.

    *Stats courtesy of NASCAR Media Department.

    My Fantasy Live team this week is: Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, A.J. Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose and David Reutimann

    Good luck this week!

    If you need any further advice with your team, look for Chad Robb on Twitter .

    If you like fantasy NASCAR, "like" Chad's Fantasy NASCAR Page on Facebook: Chad’s Fantasy NASCAR Picks.