Creature vs. Creature: NASCAR Picks (Subway Fresh Fit 500)

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IApril 17, 2009

Each week, seven of 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.

The boys returned to the 1.5-mile tracks two weeks ago, and M.J. Buchanan returned atop the Creature vs. Creature standings after former points leader S.M. Napier's pick of Clint Bowyer finished a disappointing 22nd.

The bad news for Napier was that Adam Heasley (who entered the weekend third in points), managed to jump him as well, as his pick of Jeff Gordon ended his 47-race winless streak, and 16-race winless streak at Texas Motor Speedway.

Overall, our seven writers fared well, with the lowest pick (Bowyer by both Napier and David Phillips) bringing home a 22nd-place finish.

For the fifth time this season, at least one of our writers picked the winner correctly.

Heasley has now correctly picked two winners this season, and leads all other writers.

Here are our panel's picks:

Ben Bomberger
Ben Bomberger

Ben Bomberger

This week's pick: Jeff Gordon—I was torn this week between Gordon and Carl Edwards. Sure, Edwards has never won at The Desert Mile, but he has always run so well and could be doing a backflip on Saturday night.

I thought about not taking Gordon, simply because he's done so well this season and you just have to wonder when this team is going to have a bad weekend. Let's hope it's not at PIR.

Gordon has 20 career starts at the one-mile venue with one win, eight top-fives, and 15 top-10 finishes (75 percent). His average finish is 10.2 and other than a 41st place showing at PIR last fall and a 35th place showing in his rookie season, Gordon hasn't finished worse than 17th in his 18 other trips to the desert.

Long-Shot: Brian Vickers—I know he only has one top-10 finish in nine trips to PIR, but I just keep thinking (and hoping) that Vickers and the No. 83 team are going to pull one out sometime soon. The short tracks have been brutal to this team, but maybe this is the weekend they turn it around.

Last week's pick: Jimmie Johnson (second).

MJ Buchanan
MJ Buchanan

Mary Jo Buchanan

This week's pick: Jimmie Johnson—For my pick at Phoenix International Raceway, I am going with someone who has pretty much had a lock on the place, Johnson. 

From laps led to most wins, it looks like Johnson has PIR figured out and is poised to dominate yet again in the Subway Fresh Fit 500. 

I do think that his Hendrick teammates, Gordon and Earnhardt, Jr. may give Johnson a run for his money, but I still think Johnson will dominate.

Last week's pick: Carl Edwards (finished fifth).

LJ Burgess
LJ Burgess

L.J. Burgess

This week's pick: Jeff Burton—I am on my birthday vacation so I'll keep it short...Jeff Burton.

Last week's pick: Kyle Busch (finished 18th).




Kelly Crandall
Kelly Crandall

Kelly Crandall

This week's pick: Jimmie Johnson—Johnson is coming off a win at Martinsville and a second-place finish at Texas. It's not surprising that he is atop the board when it comes to stats at Phoenix.

In 11 races, he has nine top-10s, three wins, and has led 505 laps. Last season, he swept both races there, and in November he led 217 laps on the way to a dominating victory. 
His average finish at the track is 4.8 and he hasn't been lower than seventh since 2006. Look for Jimmie Johnson to be a strong contender this weekend in the Valley of the Sun.

Last week's pick: Kurt Busch (finished eighth).

Adam Heasley
Adam Heasley

Adam Heasley

This week's pick: Jimmie Johnson—Well I'm going to go with Jimmie Johnson. He is going for his fourth straight win at PIR.

In the last three races, he has absolutely dominated, leading the most laps in all three of those races. Expect Johnson to pull off his fourth straight win at Phoenix.

However, I have a weird hunch for some reason that Jamie McMurray will have a big race. But who knows; maybe I'm wrong.

I also expect Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon, and Denny Hamlin to be in contention to break Johnson's streak.

Last week's pick: Jeff Gordon (won the race).

SM Napier
SM Napier

S.M. Napier

This week's pick: Kevin Harvick—Well being at Phoenix, going to be picking Kevin Harvick this week. It's one of his best tracks, he's found success in all three of the NASCAR'S Elite Series's at PIR.

Harvick has a combined stats total of: 34 races, six wins, 16 top fives, 20 top 10 finishes, and led 775 laps.

Harvick's spent a lot of time racing at PIR prior to his NASCAR days and always enjoys coming back to what he calls his home track.

Being at Phoenix, amongst family and friends. Happy has every reason to want to get back to Victory Lane and with the tear he's been on this past month. The odds are in his favor to getting back to Victory Lane and can't wait for the burnouts.

Last week's pick: Clint Bowyer (finished 22nd).

David Phillips
David Phillips

David Phillips

This week's pick: David Ragan—My pick for Phoenix is none other than the driver of the Roush Fenway UPS Ford David Ragan.

Last week's pick: Clint Bowyer (finished 22nd).




Extra Lap:

Phoenix milestones

  • The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch will make his 300th career start this weekend in the SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500.
  • Mark Martin heads into the weekend looking for his 400th career top-10 finish. Martin leads all drivers with nine top-five finishes at the Desert Mile.
  • Biffle is going for his 50th career top-five finish.
  • Bowyer looks for his 50th career top-10 finish.


Fast Facts

Next Race: SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500

The Date: Saturday, April 18

The Track: Phoenix International Raceway; One-mile oval

The Time: 8:30 PM

The Distance: 500 kilometers/312 laps/312 miles


Radio: MRN (local, KGME-AM 910) and Sirius Satellite

2008 Polesitter: Ryan Newman

2008 Winner: Jimmie Johnson

Schedule: Friday—Practice, 10:10 AM-12 PM; Final Practice, 12:30-2 PM; Qualifying, 4:10 PM

2009 Top 12 Drivers
    Driver             Points

1 Jeff Gordon       1,154

2 Jimmie Johnson   992

3 Kurt Busch          974

4 Clint Bowyer        967

5 Tony Stewart       963

6 Denny Hamlin      938

7 Kyle Busch          914

8 Carl Edwards       889

9 Matt Kenseth       864

10 Kasey Kahne      851

11 David Reutimann 845

12 Jeff Burton          835


Up Next: Talladega Superspeedway

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors return to the high banks next week for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The Sunday, April 26 event will be televised by FOX. The pre-race show starts at 1 PM, with the race starting at approximately 2 PM.

Kyle Busch is the defending champion of the Aaron’s 499. Last year’s victory marked his first at the 2.66-mile venue.

Joe Nemechek is the defending pole winner. Gordon leads all active drivers with six wins at Talladega.

Creature Standings
MJ Buchanan
Adam Heasley 10472
SM Napier
Ben Bomberger 10130
Kelly Crandall 8851
David Phillips
LJ Burgess7350








For more information about the writers making picks weekly, visit their B/R page by clicking on each writer's name.

Picks by the week: Shootout | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36


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