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Bank of America 500
The Chase for the Cup hits the halfway point with the fifth Cup race taking place under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night. This intermediate track, completed in 1959, is a 1.5-mile, quad oval with 24-degree turns and 5-degree straights. The frontstretch is 1,980 feet (0.38 miles) and the backstretch measures 1,500 feet, or 0.28 miles. Matt Kenseth won last year's Bank of America 500, while Kasey Kahne took home the checkered flag in the Coca-Cola 600 that took place in May.
Drivers to Watch
Brad Keselowski (12/1) - The current Cup points leader did not have a good qualifying run Thursday and will start 20th on Saturday. However, he has been outstanding on 1.5-mile tracks all year. He finished fifth at Charlotte in May, won at Kentucky, placed third in Atlanta and won again in Chicago. He has been on quite a tear recently as well, knocking out top-7 finishes in nine of his past 10 races. At 12-to-1 odds, he is the driver to place the largest wager on for this race.
Kevin Harvick (20/1) - He has a decent starting spot on Saturday (11th), which should allow him to race near the front of the Charlotte pack again. Harvick has four straight top-8 finishes at this track including a victory in 2011 that came from the No. 28 starting spot. He has also been strong on 1.5-mile tracks this season, posting an average finish of 8.9. Considering his consistent, solid finishes down the stretch: 5th, 10th, 12th, 11th, 13th and 11th in the past six races, Harvick could provide a big payoff here at 20-to-1.
Ryan Newman (30/1) - After turning in the third-fastest qualifying time in the history of this track on Thursday (193.251 mph), Newman represents great value at 30-to-1. Although he has never capitalized on any of his nine career poles at Charlotte, he does have top-15 finishes in five of his past seven races at this track. Newman also has a pair of top-5 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks this year, and has been racing very well down the stretch with top-10's in four of his past five starts.
Greg Biffle (8/1) - After setting a track record in qualifying (193.708 mph), Biffle will start from the pole on Saturday. Biffle has fared quite well on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012, posting an average finish of 7.8 and winning in Texas. Biffle has never won at Charlotte, but he does have four top-5 finishes here, including a fourth-place finish in May. He's also showing signs of stopping his late-season slide by finishing sixth at Talladega last week. The odds aren't fantastic, but he is the best value among the small group of favorites on Saturday.
Kurt Busch (75/1) - He'll be starting in the No. 21 spot on Saturday, which is favorable enough to go for the checkered flag. It was just two years ago that Busch won at this track, and last year he placed fourth at Charlotte in the spring race, his fifth career top-5 finish at this venue. Despite the horrible season he is having, this Charlotte success makes Busch -- making his Furniture Row team debut this week -- worthy of a one-unit wager on Saturday night.