Each week, seven our our esteemed B/R NASCAR writers discuss their picks for the upcoming race. Each week, the writer receives the total number of points their selected driver gets.
At the end of the 26-race regular season, writers will receive 10 bonus points for each win they had during the season and the Chase field will be set, just as the Cup stars do it.
This past week, two of our writers correctly picked Kyle "Rowdy" Busch to win the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas, earning each 10 bonus points entering the B/R Chase after 26 races.
At various times, it appeared each of our writers were on track to have good finishes. Well, except for LJ Burgess' selection of Matt Kenseth, who finished 43rd after an expired engine before lap 10.
In the picks last week, Kelly Crandall said, "I didn't pick Matt Kenseth, after regretting not doing so in California, because I think that while he may have a good run, his luck is going to run out eventually."
Boy was she right!
The winner of the first two races was not even a contender for 10 laps on Sunday.
Crandall's pick of Mark Martin appeared to be headed towards a solid finish before suffering engine woes after the car popped out of gear and the engine was over revved.
This week, our writers
Here is a look at this week's picks:
This week's pick: Jimmie Johnson—I struggled again this week. There are so many drivers that are good at Hotlanta, and so many that have been good in the past and are due for solid finishes. I decided to go with the three-time defending champion this week in hopes that I'll collect my first win of the year.
Seeing Johnson anywhere but Victory Lane is surprising. The season has been disappointment so far this year, and Atlanta could be the place Johnson and his No. 48 team turn things back around. Johnson leads the series in driver rating with a 112.9, and is the only driver with an average running position under 10.0. He has a series-best of 7.2.
Johnson also ranks fourth in fastest laps run with 183, so don't be surprised if the No. 48 team is partying in the Dirty South on Sunday night.
My darkhorse driver(s): Brian Vickers and Kevin Harvick. I wanted to take each of these drivers bad, but I just felt that being as it's all about wins before the Chase, I should go with Johnson, but I expect both these drivers to be competitive this weekend.
Last week: Brian Vickers (finished eighth).
This week's pick: Jeff Gordon—Well, you know what they say about streaks and when drivers are on a roll, don't mess with it. So...I am going with Gordon to win in Atlanta. I really vacillated on this one since I like Carl Edwards at this track as well.
I hope I'm not kicking myself when all is said and done. But, I am sticking with the National Guard 24 Chevrolet (wow, that's weird) of Gordon to driver to victory lane for Ella Sofia's first taste of a win that counts!
My dark horse is once again Brian Vickers, he has been lurking around all season long—so this weekend may be the one!
Last week: Jeff Gordon (finished sixth).
This week's pick: Kyle Busch
Last week: Matt Kenseth (finished 43rd).
This week's pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr.—My pick this weekend for Atlanta is Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt Jr. has one win in 19 starts, with 10 top-10's, and has led 632 laps. That's sixth on the active drivers list. He always seems to run well here and I think the track fits his style of going fast and getting right up against the wall.
In this race last year he started second, finished third behind Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart, and led 62 laps.
I look for Earnhardt Jr. to have a solid top-10 or top-five day.
Last week: Mark Martin (finished 40th).
This week's pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr.—Well I've been debating all week whether to take Dale Jr or Kyle Busch. I know a few people might take Busch, so I'm going to gamble and make my pick: The driver of the 88 Chevy.
Dale Jr. probably had the car to beat last year until the handling went away. Even though Earnhardt just got his first top-10 at Vegas last week, I saw a sign that gave me hope. Last year their car would be just right at the start of the races, but the couldn't keep up with the track changes and because of that they lost a lot of races.
This year I saw that at Fontana, the car was not that good to begin with, but they kept working on it and they should of had a top-10 if it wasn't for the motor. The same thing happened at Vegas, the car was okay, but over the last 100 laps they had that car dialed in and were running speeds that rivaled that of the leaders, and probably had a car good enough for a top-five but a untimely pit stop and caution took that out of the picture.
Earnhardt's cars are now running better at the end of the race, when it matters, then the start. Expect Earnhardt to have a break out day.
Last week: Kyle Busch (finished first).
This week's pick: Carl Edwards—Well this week was tough to pick. Let's see, there's Rowdy, Happy, Flipper and Mr. Atlanta come too mind as the Cup Series heads to Hotlanta.
But do I keep riding the "Wild Thing" train. Gamble on Mr. Atlanta (you newbies may not be aware just who this driver is, but too know just who it is you'll have too read my article on him).
Will it be a Happy Hotlanta weekend with him finally getting back to a points race win. Or stick with the formula, I use in picking.
Well I chose to stick with my formula, this week at Hotlanta, I'm going with Carl "Flipper" Edwards, he runs well at the track, has a average start of 8.7 and an average finish of 11.7 and it's never too early to points race.
Last week: Kyle Busch (finished first).
This week's pick: Bobby Labonte—My pick for HOTlanta is one of the hottest drivers ever at Atlanta (he owed the track from 1996 to 2001, with nine top-fives in that span, a total of six wins, 12 top-fives, and 13 top 10's in 32 starts.
He also led over and leading over 950 laps at the track. You guessed it, Hall of Fame and Yates Racing driver of the Ask.com Ford Bobby Labonte.
With my surprise driver this week being Scott Speed!
Last week: Carl Edwards (finished 17th).
For more information about the writers making picks weekly, visit their B/R page by clicking on each writer's name.