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Raceday: Your guide to the Bank of America 500

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, Oct. 12, 2012

Three things to watch

1 . Matt Kenseth is fresh off a win at Talladega and won this race a year ago. He also began his Sprint Cup career with a win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

2 . Brad Keselowski has won two of the first four races in the Chase and has built a 14-point advantage in the title race. A strong run at CMS puts him one step closer to his first championship.

3 . Kasey Kahne still remains firmly in the title hunt and won the Coca-Cola 600 here in May – one of four career wins at the track.

Observations

• Which Jimmie Johnson will we see at Charlotte Motor Speedway? Will it be the overpowering Johnson, who earned five victories in six starts between 2003 and 2005? Or will it be the Johnson who was 25th in May’s Coca-Cola 600, has a 22.6 average finish since his last Charlotte victory (fall 2009)? Which Johnson appears will likely play a large role in how this season's Sprint Cup championship battle plays out.

• There has been a lot of talk that Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s willingness to seek medical treatment earlier this week for possible aftereffects of a concussion would do a lot to spark other drivers to be more open about injuries. Yet just a few hours after Earnhardt's press conference on Thursday, Jeff Gordon said if he was in the title hunt with two races left in the season he wouldn't tell a doctor about any problems for fear the doctor might keep him out of the car. Well, so much for that idea.

• Although I'm sure Regan Smith doesn't welcome the circumstances, I am certain he relishes the opportunity he has the next two weeks driving Hendrick Motorsports' No. 88 Chevrolet in the Cup series. He is also expected to run fulltime in Nationwide next season with JR Motorsports, and there's no reason he won't be a title contender.

Best bets

Jim Utter gives you three picks for your fantasy racing league:

Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon

Notes,/h3>

Brunnhoelzl wins modified race: George Brunnhoelzl III led every lap to win Thursday night's NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified race on the frontstretch 1/4-mile oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He also clinched the series championship.

“We had a good car and were able to hold everyone off,” Brunnhoelzl said. “To win the championship on top of that is pretty amazing. We had a real good year.”

Diversity combines begins Tuesday: The 2012 Driver for Diversity combine, which tests drivers of diverse backgrounds, is Tuesday-Thursday at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va.

A group of 17 drivers representing 12 states, Canada and Mexico were selected to participate in the combine, which will help determine the diversity program participants in 2013.

This year’s combine will be a three-day driver evaluation of on-track performance, marketing and media aptitude and physical fitness.

Chevy can clinch manufacturer's title: Chevrolet can mathematically clinch its 10th consecutive manufacturers’ championship – and 36th overall – in the Cup series on Saturday in Charlotte.

If Chevrolet leads the manufacturer standings by 31 points leaving the race, it will clinch. Chevrolet currently holds a 27-point lead over Toyota.

Wallace plans Nationwide race: For the second time, Chrissy Wallace will team up with her father, Mike, in a Nationwide Series race. Next weekend at Kansas, the younger Wallace will drive the No. 4 Chevrolet for JD Motorsports.

This will be Chrissy's third series start. She was the 2011 ASA Late Model West Series champion and Late Model divisional champion at Lebanon I-44 (Missouri) Speedway.

Race facts

Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.

Track type: 1.5-mile banked, paved quad-oval

Race distance: 334 laps or 500.1 miles

Weather: Mostly sunny with high in the mid-60s.

TV: Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on ABC. Green flag is 7:45 p.m.

Radio: Performance Racing Network


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