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Lowe's trends and notes

10/8/2008

Background

• This is the 31st race of 36 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008 and the fifth race of the "Chase for the Championship."
• This is the 16th of 21 intermediate track races of the season.
• This is the 100th time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has competed at Lowe's Motor Speedway since 1960.
• Lowe's is a 1.5-mile oval with 24-degree banking in the turns and 5-degree banking on the straightaways.
• There are 47 drivers on the pre-entry list competing for one of the 43 starting slots in Saturday's 333-lap, 500-mile race. Of those 47 entrants, 12 must get into Saturday's field based on qualifying times: Mike Wallace, Bill Elliott, Chad McCumbee, Brad Keselowski, Tony Raines, Bryan Clauson, AJ Allmendinger, Scott Speed, Derrike Cope, Sam Hornish, Jr., Ken Schrader and Joe Nemechek.
• Bill Elliott has access to a past champions' provisional if needed.
• These teams are NOT locked in past the next race as the owners' points change after each race:
32. Dave Blaney/Bill Davis Racing: 2387, 102 points ahead of 36th
33. Scott Riggs/Haas CNC Racing: 2383, +98
34. Mike Skinner/Red Bull Racing: 2341, +56
35. Robby Gordon/RGM: 2324, +39

These teams/drivers must qualify by speed but are close to the top 35:
36. AJ Allmendinger/Waltrip Racing: 2285, 39 points out of 35th
37. Sam Hornish/Penske Racing: 2147, -177

• Rookies Scott Speed, Bryan Clauson and Brad Keselowski are all attempting to make their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend. All three will have to earn their way into Saturday night's show based on qualifying speeds, as their respective teams are outside the top 35 in owners' points.
• AJ Allmendinger will try to qualify the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 00 this week, but next week, he'll get behind the wheel of the Gillette Evernham Motorsports No. 10, replacing Patrick Carpentier, who was released Tuesday. Filling Carpentier's seat at Charlotte will be veteran Mike Wallace.
Jimmie Johnson has dominated this track since his arrival in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He has five wins in 14 starts with 11 top-10s with an average finish of 9.1, the highest average finish of any active drivers here with at least 10 starts. He has also scored more points than any other driver in the past ten races here.
Kasey Kahne won the most recent race here and has three total wins at Lowe's with only one DNF in nine starts. He also has earned the most points of any active driver here in the past six races.
• Of all the drivers in the field, Bill Elliott leads most of the statistical categories, including most top-10s (22) and laps led (1,337).
• Returning to action this weekend is Mark Martin, who has the most top-5s (17) and is second in most laps led (1,168).
• Once again, Kyle Busch is entering a weekend where he isn't expected to do well. Of the 12 Chasers, he has the worst average finish (23.3). In nine starts, he has only three lead-lap finishes.
• Another driver to avoid is Elliott Sadler who, in 20 starts, has only five lead-lap finishes and three top-10s.
• A dark horse for this weekend is Bobby Labonte, who is coming off a strong top-10 at Talladega. Of the active drivers with 10 or more starts here, he has the second-highest average finish (12.7) with two wins, 12 top-5s, and 17 top-10s in 31 starts.
• Chevrolet has dominated here, mostly due to Jimmie Johnson's five wins. The Bowtie Brigade has won eight of the past 12 races here, but Dodge has also been strong, winning those four races Chevy didn't.
• Of the drivers guaranteed entry into Saturday's race with 10 or more starts, Robby Gordon has the worst average finish (29.2). Of the go-or-go-homers, Joe Nemechek has the best average finish (18.9), with Ken Schrader the worst (21.4).

Lowe's previous winners

There are 11 previous Lowe's winners entered this weekend, with 26 victories among them:

Past four races at Lowe's

Past four races at 1.5-mile tracks

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series top 10 recap

  1. Jimmie Johnson (5,718 points) was ninth at Talladega to remain first in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. Johnson has 14 starts here with 11 top-10s, eight top-5s, five wins and an average finish of 9.1.

  2. Carl Edwards (-72) was 29th at Talladega but is still second in the standings. In seven starts at LMS, Edwards has six top-10s, three top-5s and an average finish of 7.6.

  3. Greg Biffle (-77) finished 24th at Talladega and stays third in the standings. Biffle has 11 starts here with four top-10s, two top-5s and an average finish of 19.3.

  4. Jeff Burton (-99) finished fourth Sunday and maintains his hold on fourth in the standings. In 29 starts here, Burton has 14 top-10s, seven top-5s, two wins and an average finish of 14.9.

  5. Clint Bowyer (-152) was fifth at Talladega and jumps up two spots in the standings to fifth. Bowyer has five starts here with one top-5 and an average finish of 19.6.

  6. Kevin Harvick (-171) was 20th on Sunday, falling one place in the standings to sixth. Harvick has 15 starts here with three top-10s, a top-5 and an average finish of 20.7.

  7. Tony Stewart (-203) won at Talladega on Sunday to move up four places to seventh. Stewart has 19 starts at LMS with 11 top-10s, six top-5s, a win and an average finish of 13.2.

  8. Jeff Gordon (-232) finished 38th on Sunday, falling two places in the standings to eighth. In 31 starts here, Gordon has 17 top-10s, 15 top-5s, five wins and an average finish of 16.4.

  9. Matt Kenseth (-245) was 26th at Talladega, but is still ninth in the standings. Kenseth has 18 starts here with eight top-10s, five top-5s, a win and an average finish of 15.3.

  10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-249) finished 28th on Sunday, falling two places in the standings to 10th. In 18 starts here, Earnhardt has nine top-10s, five top-5s and an average finish of 16.3.

Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.