Five drivers to watch at Charlotte


Keep an eye on these drivers in the opening race of the second round this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr.

Truex and the No. 78 team are peaking at the right time with an eye-popping 2.6 average finish and three wins over the last five races. Now they return to Charlotte, where they put on one of NASCAR’s most dominant performances back in May at the Coca-Cola 600. Look no further for your favorite.

Kurt Busch

The 2004 Cup champion had an unspectacular Round of 16 (finishes of 13th, fifth, and 15th), and needs to pick things up in order to stay in the Chase. Bad news: He’s got only one win in 84 starts across the Round of 12 tracks. Good news: That one win came in 2010 at – yep – Charlotte. As for a more recent effort, he finished a solid sixth there in May.

Austin Dillon

Considering Dillon’s past Dover record, he didn’t seem to have a good shot at advancing last weekend. So naturally, he finished eighth and made the cut. In the five races prior, though, Dillon had finished 16th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and 16th. If Dillon wants a chance to make the Round of 8, he needs to keep converting those top-15 finishes into top 10s.

Carl Edwards

Like Dillon, Edwards has something to prove. He comes off an opening round that wasn’t particularly great (finishes of 15th, sixth, and 14th). Reclaiming the speed he had in the early season will be critical – and so will be avoiding pit road penalties. Edwards was tagged twice for speeding at Charlotte in May and was relegated to 18th at the finish.

Brad Keselowski

With just 16 laps led in the Chase, Keselowski is still down on speed compared to the Toyotas and Kevin Harvick. But he also is the only driver to turn in top-five results in each of the three Chase races. Charlotte has been good for him lately, too, with a win and five top-10 finishes in his last six races there.