Bank of America 500 Preview

Oct 11, 2006 - 10:06 AM
October 14, 2006
Lowe's Motor Speedway
Concord, North Carolina

Race 32 of 37 on Nextel Cup circuit
(31st points race, 5th of 10 in "Chase for the Championship")

TV: NBC, 7 p.m. EDT

Laps: 334
Track length: 1 1/2 miles
Race length: 500 miles

Qualifying record: Elliott Sadler, Ford, 193.216 mph, 2005
Race record: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 160.306 mph, 1999

DRIVERS TO WATCH
----------------

Jeff Burton
Team: Richard Childress Racing
Car: No. 31 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $4,295,577
Chase Points: 5,598 (1st)

Holds a slim lead in the "Chase for the Championship" after
struggling to 27th place in last week's UAW-Ford 500 at
Talladega Superspeedway; leads Matt Kenseth by just six points
in the standings; finished fifth at Kansas and won three weeks
ago at Dover, his only victory this season; has six top-five
finishes and 18 top-10s; ran 14th in this event last year but
finished sixth in the spring race at this track; has teamed
with Kevin Harvick to lead a resurgence by Richard Childress
Racing.

Kyle Busch
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Car: No. 5 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $4,162,393
Chase Points: 5,413 (10th)

Finished 11th at Talladega and gained ground in his long and
potentially fruitless climb from the bottom of the "Chase"
standings; is tied with Kasey Kahne for 10th place but trails
Burton by 185 points, 48 less than when he came to Talladega;
finished seventh at Kansas; only win of the season came at New
Hampshire on July 16; has struggled at this track, finishing no
better than 25th in his five career starts here; ran just 39th
in this race last season after crashing in lap 151; placed 38th
here in the spring.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Team: Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Car: No. 8 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $4,575,208
Chase Points: 5,492 (6th)

Chances for his first series title took a serious hit at
Talladega, where he was knocked off the lead in the final lap by
Brian Vickers; managed 23rd place in the race and climbed one
spot to sixth in the standings but trails Burton by 106 points;
ran 10th at Kansas; has eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10s
this season; ran 11th here in the spring but struggled in this
event last season, finishing 42nd after crashing in lap 62.

Jeff Gordon
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Car: No. 24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $5,112,957
Chase Points: 5,451 (7th)

Dropped another spot to seventh in the standings with a
36th-place finish at Talladega; got caught up in an 11-car crash
late in the race and completed just 167 laps; plummeted four
spots after placing 39th at Kansas; trails Burton by 147 points;
has registered four victories at this track, most recently in
this race in 1999; has fared well in his 27 career starts here,
recording seven poles, 13 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s;
crashed in lap 152 of this race last season and finished 38th;
has won twice this year to push his career total to 75, most
among active drivers.

Denny Hamlin
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
Car: No. 11 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $3,656,022
Chase Points: 5,547 (5th)

Outstanding circuit rookie continues his improbable run at the
series title; ran 21st at Talladega and fell three spots to
fifth in the standings but still trails Burton by just 51
points; it was his worst finish in 21 races, but Hamlin avoided
the trouble others encountered and actually gained 18 points on
Burton for the top spot; has two wins this season, both at
Pocono, becoming just the second rookie in series history to win
both races at a single track; hopes to draw from limited
success at this track, where he ran ninth in the spring race and
eighth in last year's event.

Kevin Harvick
Team: Richard Childress Racing
Car: No. 29 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $5,201,437
Chase Points: 5,565 (4th)

Made a huge rebound push in the "Chase" at Talladega after
consecutive poor finishes; finished sixth last week to climb one
spot to fourth in the standings and trails Burton by just 33
points after gaining 63 points; still has a very real chance to
catch Richard Childress Racing teammate Burton for the title,
although at some point he may be asked to protect him rather
than challenge him; still tracking an unprecedented double as he
is the runaway leader in the Busch series and virtually assured
of his second crown on that circuit (2001); no driver has won
the Nextel Cup and Busch titles in the same year; ran 28th in
this event last season, placed 34th here in the spring and has
just one top-five finish in 11 career starts at this track; has
been very erratic in his last nine races, with three of his four
victories coming in that span but only one other finish better
than 11th.

Jimmie Johnson
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Car: No. 48 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $7,547,627
Chase Points: 5,442 (8th)

Becoming the bridesmaid of the Nextel Cup circuit with another
late-season slump that likely will prevent him from claiming his
first series title; appeared primed for at least a runner-up
finish and possibly the checkered flag at Talladega before being
wrecked by teammate Vickers in the final lap; entered the "Chase"
atop the standings but has tumbled to eighth, 156 points off the
pace; led 105 laps at Kansas but was flagged for speeding on pit
road, resulting in a 14th-place showing; will need to continue
his overwhelming success at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where he has
won five of the last seven races; has not finished better than
10th in his last nine races; has won four times this season -
including victories at superspeedways Daytona and Talladega - but
has not taken a checkered flag since the Allstate 400 at the
Brickyard in early August.

Kasey Kahne
Team: Evernham Motorsports
Car: No. 9 Dodge Charger
2006 Earnings: $5,231,313
Chase Points: 5,413 (9th)

Was runner-up to Vickers at Talladega and kept alive his slim
title hopes; gained 88 points in the standings on Burton and is
185 points off the pace; failed to cash in on claiming the pole
at Kansas, spinning out as he tried to make it to the pits on
his final stop after running out of fuel and finishing 33rd;
leads the series with five victories and is tied with Kurt Busch
for the circuit lead with five poles, fueling his first
appearance in the season-ending title run; beat the favored
Johnson at this track in the spring race.

Matt Kenseth
Team: Roush Racing
Car: No. 17 Ford Fusion
2006 Earnings: $5,781,973
Chase Points: 5,592 (2nd)

Delivered a huge performance with a fourth-place finish at
Talladega; climbed two spots to second in the standings and
trails Burton by just six points; had consecutive wins in August
to run his season total to four and grab the standings lead
heading into the "Chase"; ironically, won the series title in
2003 despite claiming just one checkered flag, which prompted
the change to the "Chase" format; finished fifth here in the
spring race but struggled to 26th place in this event last
season; won the spring race at this track in 2000 and has five
top-five finishes in 14 career starts here.

Mark Martin
Team: Roush Racing
Car: No. 6 Ford Fusion
2006 Earnings: $3,720,098
Chase Points: 5,588 (3rd)

Announced his intentions to retire nearly two years ago but
still going strong; has been in the "Chase" each of the last two
seasons and has a legitimate chance to win elusive first series
title, which would be a wonderful capper to a remarkable
career; finished eighth at Talladega and remained third in the
standings but gained 60 points on Burton and now is just 10
points off the pace; avoided trouble and finished third at
Kansas to climb three spots in the standings, supplanting
Kenseth, his Roush racing teammate; has yet to win a pole or a
race this season, again raising questions about points
distribution in the Nextel Cup standings; four-time winner at
this track last won here in the 2002 spring race and has 17
top-five finishes in 43 career starts; ran fourth in the spring
race here and placed fifth in last year's event.

2005 Top 10
-----------
1. Jimmie Johnson (48), Chevrolet
2. Kurt Busch (97), Ford
3. Greg Biffle (16), Ford
4. Joe Nemechek (01), Chevrolet
5. Mark Martin (6), Ford
6. Casey Mears (41), Dodge
7. Ryan Newman (12), Dodge
8. Denny Hamlin (11), Chevrolet
9. Ricky Rudd (21), Ford
10. Carl Edwards (99), Ford

Past Champions
--------------
2005 Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 120.334 mph
2004 Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 130.214 mph
2003 Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 142.871 mph
2002 Jamie McMurray, Dodge, 141.481 mph
2001 Sterling Marlin, Dodge, 139.006 mph
2000 Bobby Labonte, Pontiac, 133.630 mph
1999 Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 160.306 mph
1998 Mark Martin, Ford, 123.188 mph
1997 Dale Jarrett, Ford, 144.323 mph
1996 Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, 143.143 mph
1995 Mark Martin, Ford, 145.358 mph
1994 Dale Jarrett, Chevrolet, 145.922 mph
1993 Ernie Irvan, Ford, 154.537 mph
1992 Mark Martin, Ford, 153.537 mph
1991 Geoffrey Bodine, Ford, 138.984 mph
1990 Davey Allison, Ford, 137.428 mph
1989 Ken Schrader, Chevrolet, 149.863 mph
1988 Rusty Wallace, Pontiac, 130.677 mph
1987 Bill Elliott, Ford, 128.443 mph
1986 Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 132.403 mph
1985 Cale Yarborough, Ford, 136.761
1984 Bill Elliott, Ford, 146.861 mph
1983 Richard Petty, Pontiac, 139.998 mph
1982 Harry Gant, Buick, 137.208 mph
1981 Darrell Waltrip, Buick, 117.483 mph
1980 Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 135.243 mph
1979 Cale Yarborough, Chevrolet, 134.266 mph
1978 Bobby Allison, Ford, 141.826 mph
1977 Benny Parsons, Chevrolet, 142.780 mph
1976 Donnie Allison, Chevrolet, 141.226 mph
1975 Richard Petty, Dodge, 132.209 mph
1974 David Pearson, 73 Mercury, 119.912 mph
1973 Cale Yarborough, 73 Chevrolet, 145.240 mph
1972 Bobby Allison, 71 Chevrolet, 133.234 mph
1971 Bobby Allison, 69 Mercury, 126.140 mph
1970 LeeRoy Yarbrough, 69 Mercury, 123.426 mph
1969 Donnie Allison, 69 Ford, 131.271 mph
1968 Charlie Glotzbach, 68 Dodge, 135.324 mph
1967 Buddy Baker, 67 Dodge, 130.317 mph
1966 *LeeRoy Yarbrough, 66 Dodge, 130.743 mph
1965 Fred Lorenzen, 65 Ford, 119.118 mph
1964 Fred Lorenzen, 64 Ford, 134.559 mph
1963 Junior Johnson, 63 Chevrolet, 132.105 mph
1962 Junior Johnson, 62 Pontiac, 132.085 mph
1961 Joe Weatherly, 61 Pontiac, 119.800 mph
1960 Speedy Thompson, 60 Ford, 112.760 mph

* Race changed from 400 to 500 miles







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