Things are heating up as we head into the final stretch before the cut-off of the 2009 Chase.
Points leader Tony Stewart remains a popular pick each weekend and returns to the site of his first win as an owner/driver this weekend at the Tricky Triangle.
With six races remaining until the points are reset—both in the Sprint Cup Series and here on B/R—it's all about the wins for our 13 writers.
Here are this weekend's picks:
Ben Bomberger—Juan Pablo Montoya
The No. 42 Dodge was by far the fastest and most dominant car last weekend at Indy. A speeding penalty near the end of the race cost Montoya his first win on an "oval" track in a stock car.
Montoya is one of the hottest drivers on the circuit these days and is pushing his way towards a Chase berth.
I think Montoya will run well on Sunday and shoot for his second career Sprint Cup Series win in the Pocono mountains.
James Broomhead—Denny Hamlin
It was a tough choice between Hamlin and Montoya this week, and even though Denny burnt me when I picked him for the first Pocono outing, where his competitive afternoon finished after about 100 yards, I have to go with him again.
The kid can just get round the place, he was topping practices in June, so he's got his head round the COT here, he just needs to get round at speed.
M.J. Buchanan—Kasey Kahne
My pick for Pocono is Kasey Kahne. He has traditionally run well at the Tricky Triangle, he has the new engine and Richard Petty Motorsports has been picking up the pace. So, I'm going with ole blue eyes!
Kelly Crandall—Mark Martin
NO COMMENTS SENT
Mason Dunn—Tony Stewart
I don't even need to say why I am going with this pick.
Adam Heasley—NO PICK SENT
NO PICK SENT
Danielle Henderson—Denny Hamlin
NO COMMENTS SENT
Kara Martin—Tony Stewart
I have to go once again with Stewart, although picking him has not always been a sure shot as he has only provided me with a single win. But since that win for me came from Pocono earlier this year I am picking him to make the sweep and "Swagger" into Victory Lane once again!
S.M. Napier—Tony Stewart
Going to stay with Tony Stewart at Pocono, we could see him sweep the races this year at the track.
Kyle Ocker—NO PICK SENT
NO PICK SENT
David Phillips—Jimmie Johnson
NO COMMENTS SENT
Jen Preston—Denny Hamlin
Hamlin is in need of a good run after his finish in Indy, and I think Pocono is the perfect place for him to rebound. Despite his 38th place finish there in June, he has an average finish of 10.7, four top fives and five top 10s—not to mention the two wins in his rookie season. I'm looking for Hamlin to have a consistent Chase run this weekend.
Rob Tiongson—Jimmie Johnson
As we return to Pocono, I'm trying to decide on which type of driver should I go with: the historically best one or the one on a tear in 2009.
It's been a Hendrick Motorsports kind of year, from their satellite team in Stewart-Haas Racing winning to the usual suspects like Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson grabbing the checkers for this 25 year old team.
Jimmie Johnson's starting to show his winning ways, though his 2009 season is laced with some inconsistency. I look for the No. 48 team to establish a top 10 streak, not without grabbing win number four of the year.
If I had to go with a dark horse, is Tony Stewart that driver? That said, I'm going with JJ.
Here is a look at each writers' pick from Indy last weekend, where they finished, and the updated point standings (wins are in parenthesis):
Ben Bomberger, (2903) Jeff Gordon finished ninth. (1)
Kelly Crandall, (2781) Tony Stewart finished third. (1)
Adam Heasley, (2774) Kasey Kahne finished seventh. (3)
M.J. Buchanan, (2731) Jeff Gordon finished ninth. (0)
S.M. Napier, (2695) Tony Stewart finished third. (2)
David Phillips, (2250) Jimmie Johnson won. (2)
James Broomhead, (1342) Tony Stewart finished third. (1)
Kara Martin, (1298) Tony Stewart finished third. (1)
Mason Dunn, (1243) Mark Martin finished second. (0)
Rob Tiongson, (1191) Jeff Gordon finished ninth. (1)
Danielle Henderson, (1126) Juan Pablo Montoya finished 11th. (0)
Jen Preston, (948) Reed Sorenson finished 13th. (0)
Kyle Ocker, (898) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 36th. (0)
Remember, during the regular season, our writers are trying to collect as many wins as possible.
After Richmond, points will be reset with each writer receiving 10 points for correctly picking a winner during the season.
For the final 10 races, the points will matter, and a Creature vs. Creature Champion will be crowned following the season finale in Homestead.
SIDE NOTE: When the Chase starts, our writer's will really have to put on their creative hats, as they will only be able to select a driver one time during the final 10 races.
In other words, each writer will have to be careful with the likes of Johnson, Gordon, Stewart and Busch, because they only get to use each once.