Creature Vs. Creature: NASCAR Picks (Aaron's 499)

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IApril 24, 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.

Last week,three of our writers picked Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Chevy to win four in a row at The Desert Mile this past weekend, but all were wrong.

M.J. Buchanan maintained her lead over Adam Heasley this week, as both—as well as Kelly Crandall—selected Johnson to take home the checkered flag.

The three did, however, pick the highest finishing driver, and the points again shifted very little.

Here are our panel's picks:

Ben Bomberger
Ben Bomberger

Ben Bomberger

This week's pick: Kyle Busch—Another weekend, another tough decision. My final three came down to Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch.

But in the end, I had to not go with who I wanted to win (Vickers) and pick a driver I really thought could bring home the checkered flag, which was Busch.

Busch had actually struggled mightily at the 2.66-mile monster prior to joining Joe Gibbs Racing last year.

He won his first race at the Alabama track last spring in the No. 18 Camry and finished 15th in the fall race.

And we all know Busch can win on any racetrack, on anyday.

Last week's pick: Jeff Gordon (finished 25th).

MJ Buchanan
MJ Buchanan

Mary Jo Buchanan

This week's pick: Tony Stewart—Talladega is always just a roll of the dice, depending on who survives the "big one" and who is positioned just right at the end of the race. 

Of course, Hendrick runs well at 'Dega and it is the true home of Junior Nation, all of whom are looking for redemption for their driver. 

But I'm going to go with Tony Stewart to win at Talladega. He has had success there before and he is ever so close to winning this season. 

Stewart wants nothing more than to get that first win as a team owner and driver at this track. It will be all about drafting partners on Sunday, but I do think we might just hear those infamous words, "Here Kitty, Kitty"!  So, Smoke to win at Talladega and I'm picking Juan Pablo Montoya as my dark horse.

Last week's pick: Jimmie Johnson (finished fourth).

LJ Burgess
LJ Burgess

L.J. Burgess

This week's pick: Jimmie Johnson—I'm going with Jimmie Johnson this weekend...I think he's due for a checkered flag win.

Last week's pick: Jeff Burton (finished 15th).





Kelly Crandall
Kelly Crandall

Kelly Crandall

This week's pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr.—This week at Talladega, I'm going out on a really big limp. Mostly because of the way that he's run this year and the fact that he hasn't won a restrictor plate race since 2004. But hey, Mark Martin hadn't won a race since 2005 until last Saturday.

My pick this weekend is Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Now, I haven't picked him all year.... wait, I think I did once, and then I stopped because well he wasn't running well and I figured that maybe I was jinxing him. However, I feel like he's doing that all on his own, so maybe if I know pick him this week, he'll do well. Sort of like reverse psychology I guess.
Daytona and Talladega are Dale Jr.'s bread and butter. He has always run well there, but recently as he said, he just can't seem to be in the right line when it comes to the end. Or out of Carl Edwards way when he started the big one last year.
Earnhardt Jr. has 18 races under his belt at Dega and has five wins, 10 top 10s, and seven top fives. He's also led 635 laps which is only second on the active drivers list behind teammate Jeff Gordon.
After Phoenix this team is looking for a track that they can run well at and get their season back on track. They had a very good car in all the plate races last season and had another great car in this years Daytona 500. Even Dale said that he is very confident heading into this weekend and that "we'll get 'em at Talladega."
Hopefully he does just that and closes in on his fathers all time wins list there.

Last week's pick: Jimmie Johnson (finished fourth).

Adam Heasley
Adam Heasley

Adam Heasley

This week's pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr.—Well in Dale Junior Nation, I'm going to go with the driver of the No. 88: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt has five wins, with four of those coming in a row. Last year he had one of the best cars until he was caught up in a wreck not of his doing.

I expect to see much of the same thing this week just with out the wreck!

Expect to see the a sea of green and blue standing once again, because Earnhardt will have them on their feet!!

Last week's pick: Jimmie Johnson (finished fourth).

SM Napier
SM Napier

S.M. Napier

This week's pick: Tony Stewart—This week going to be picking Tony Stewart.

Smoke is off on his best start in the early stages of the season, the combination of him and Grubb been a winner, were going to see the pair winning a bunch of races and it starts with 'Dega.



Last week's pick: Kevin Harvick (finished 30th).

David Phillips
David Phillips

David Phillips

This week's pick: Scott Speed—Im going out on a limb at a track that has saw no-names win races there.

I'm going with non other than Red Bull Racing's Scott Speed.

Now I know I'm picking a non top-35 guy and he could miss the race, so if Speed fails to make the race and if it's OK with the rest of the Creatures my back-up pick will be Speeds teammate Brian Vickers

Last week's pick: David Ragan (finished 22nd).




Extra Lap:

Restrictor-Plate Wins: All-Time

Driver                    Wins 1st Win
Jeff Gordon               12     1994
Dale Earnhardt          11     1990
Dale Earnhardt Jr.       7      2001
Dale Jarrett                 6     1993
Sterling Marlin             5     1994


Fast Facts

The Race: Aaron’s 499

The Date: Sunday, April 26

The Track: Talladega Superspeedway (2.66-mile tri-oval)

The Time: 2 PM/ET

The Distance: 500 miles/188 laps


Radio: MRN and Sirius Satellite (local station WTDR-FM 92.7)

2008 Polesitter: Joe Nemechek

2008 Winner: Kyle Busch

Schedule: Friday—Practice, 1-2 PM and 2:30-3:30 PM Saturday—Qualifying, 10:15 AM (All times CT/local.)


2009 Top 12

    Driver                 Points
 1 Jeff Gordon           1,242
 2 Jimmie Johnson    1,157
 3 Kurt Busch           1,144
 4 Tony Stewart        1,138
 5 Denny Hamlin       1,088
 6 Clint Bowyer         1,052
 7 Kyle Busch           1,026
 8 Carl Edwards         1,023
 9 David Reutimann       992
10 Kasey Kahne           975
11 Jeff Burton               953
12 Matt Kenseth           946


Up Next: ‘The Perfect Track’—AKA, Richmond International Raceway

Richmond International Raceway has come to be considered one of NASCAR’s true showcase facilities, largely because of its three-quarter-mile oval that is considered “just right” in competitive parlance.

Especially interesting is how the RIR race track reached this preferred status. Talk about a roundabout route.

The track started out as a half-mile dirt track and stayed that way from 1953 until the second RIR race of 1968 when it was transformed into a .625-mile of asphalt.

At the start of the 1968 season the oval was re-measured, to a .5625-mile.

For the second ‘69 NASCAR Sprint Cup event, another re-measurement returned the distance to a half-mile.

At the start of the 1970 season, re-measurement upped the distance to .542.

In time for the track’s second 1988 race, an actual reconfiguration lengthened the oval to its current three-quarters mile.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Richmond on Saturday night, May 2 for the most uniquely named event in all of racing—the Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400. Friedman won a promotional contest, and the right to have his name attached to the race title.

Friedman, from Huntington Station, N.Y., and was chosen from a group of seven finalists from around the country based on a submission that detailed his experience serving in Iraq.

Throughout the contest, finalists submitted online or video entries describing an honorable act or achievement. Nearly 5,000 entries were received, detailing a myriad of achievements from the heroics of firefighters to dedicated fathers going the extra mile.

Friedman has his name associated with an event sure to spark interest. 

There’s also the annual aside that Richmond’s spring race affords some drivers a chance to “warm up” for the series’ return visit on Sept. 12. That will be the final race and the start of NASCAR’s “playoffs”—the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The top 12 drivers in the series standings after that event will qualify for the Chase, which is contested over the season’s last 10 races.

Creature Standings
MJ Buchanan
Adam Heasley 12122
SM Napier
Ben Bomberger 11010
Kelly Crandall 10501
David Phillips
LJ Burgess8530








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

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