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:
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).
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).
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).
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.
Last week's pick: Kurt Busch (finished eighth).
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).
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).
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).
- 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.
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
TV: FOX, 8 PM
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
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.
For more information about the writers making picks weekly, visit their B/R page by clicking on each writer's name.