Two down and eight to go in the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup, and this week the series heads out west to the Kansas Speedway.
We head there after Jimmie Johnson dominated at Dover last weekend, serving notice to all Chase drivers that if they want to win the championship they have to take it from him. However, he’s only second in points behind teammate and sentimental favorite, Mark Martin.
Our Creatures are starting to position themselves for championship runs, some off to better starts than others, and this Sunday it’ll come down to who picked the right driver that’ll have his car rolling around the 1.5 mile track.
Last year Jimmie Johnson out-dueled Carl Edwards for the victory, although Edwards didn’t go down easily, dive bombing into turn three and four but hit the wall, allowing Johnson to drive back by for the win.
Who might try that this weekend? Here’s whom our Creatures think may give it their best shot.
Ben Bomberger: Greg Biffle
I debated on going with Jimmie Johnson as he is the defending winner of this race, but being as we can only use each driver once, I have somewhere else planned for him.
So, this week I'm going with Da' Biff.
Biffle has been solid at Kansas in ever race he’s been in at the track. He won this race in 2007 and has four top-fives, four top 10s, and an average finish of 9.9 on his Kansas resume. His average running position of 6.4 is best among all drivers, and his driver rating of 117.4 is the second best in the series.
Throw in 88 fastest laps run (second most), an average green flag speed of 162.250 mph (second fastest), and a series-high 962 laps in the top 15 (95.2 percent), all of which makes it easy to see why Biffle will be a popular pick this weekend.
James Broomhead: Jeff Gordon
Time for me to start wheeling out the big hitting picks, and as I'm saving Jimmie Johnson for a special occasion, it's going to have to be Jeff Gordon this week.
Along with “Double-J” and the “Roushketeers” he has the best numbers of anyone at Kansas, and seems pretty positive heading into the race.
Hopefully he'll be as positive after it.
Mary Jo Buchanan: Jeff Gordon
Yes, he is my driver, but he also identified Kansas as one of his better tracks. At this time in the Chase he needs a great run to stay in the championship hunt.
So, I'm going with the four-time champion and driver of the DuPont Chevrolet to take the Midwest win.
Kelly Crandall: Juan Pablo Montoya
No longer satisfied with third-place finishes, this team is going for broke with just eight races remaining. Sitting third in points heading into Kansas, the track he nearly grabbed his first career pole at last year, I look for Montoya to do what he does best: put the pedal to the floor.
Kansas suits his style in that regard and even though he’s never had a top ten finish there, he hadn’t had a top ten finish at most tracks before 2009 and he continues to rise to the top.
I expect the same from the No. 42 team this weekend and hopefully it will result in their first oval track win.
Mason Dunn: Jimmie Johnson
The win last weekend will propel three-time champ Johnson into a rush of momentum, which will include another win this Sunday at Kansas. Johnson and teammate Mark Martin will be up front all day, and Johnson will edge Martin at the very end for the win, but a minimal gain on Martin in the point standings.
Adam Heasley: NO PICK SENT
No pick sent.
Danielle Henderson: NO PICK SENT
No pick sent.
Kara Martin: Jimmie Johnson
No comments sent.
SM Napier: Clint Bowyer
Going to roll the dice this week, with a non-chaser that is racing on his home track and wants nothing more than to win a race at Kansas Speedway. So, I’m picking Clint Bowyer this week.
He has one top five, two top 10s at the track, and led 43 laps in three races. This time around though, I believe that crew chief Shane Wilson will be the difference for him and get the No. 33 to victory lane.
David Phillips: Carl Edwards
No comments sent.
Jen Preston: Clint Bowyer
I'll be in the grandstands this weekend and even though I'm on the other side of Kansas-Missouri border war, I'd love to see Emporia's own Clint Bowyer get a victory at his home track. He's never won here in Kansas, but in his Nationwide and Sprint Cup career combined he has four top fives and five top 10s in eight starts.
Richard Childress Racing may not be in the Chase for 2009, but this week Bowyer is going to get them their first Cup win of the season and continue building momentum for next year.
Rob Tiongson: Mark Martin
Last week, I may have gotten lucky with my pick of Jimmie Johnson, but for Kansas I just might hit it on all cylinders by choosing Johnson’s teammate, Mark Martin. He has won at Kansas, in 2005 for Jack Roush, and earlier this season he took the checkers in Chicagoland.
That particular track is similar to its sister venue down in Chiefs Nation and it just might be the time for Martin to launch another assault with victory number two of the Chase.
Rob Tiongson correctly picked Jimmie Johnson as the victor last weekend in Dover and because of such it gave him his first points lead of the season. Here’s a look once again at everyone Tiongson will be trying to fend off come Sunday.
Rob Tiongson (5,360) Jimmie Johnson won (2)
Ben Bomberger (-11) Ryan Newman finished 10th (3)
Mary Jo Buchanan (-46) Ryan Newman finished 10th (0)
Kara Martin (-53) Ryan Newman finished 10th (3)
Jen Preston (-56) Ryan Newman finished 10th (1)
James Broomhead (-66) Carl Edwards finished 11th (3)
Kelly Crandall (-84) Tony Stewart finished ninth (2)
David Phillips (-119) Kyle Busch finished 31st (2)
Mason Dunn (-125) Denny Hamlin finished 22nd (0)
Danielle Henderson (-175) NO PICK SENT (2)
SM Napier (-216) Greg Biffle finished 13th (2)
Adam Heasley (-330) NO PICK SENT (3)
Juan Pablo Montoya nearly captured his first career pole at Kansas last season, but after failing post-qualifying inspection he was forced to give up that pole and start from the rear of the field. This year he returns as a Chase contender and right in the middle of the battle, third in points just 65 markers out of first.
Chevrolet drivers are used to seeing victory at Kansas, winning five of the eight races that Kansas has hosted. And only one driver has ever repeated at Kansas, Jeff Gordon back in 2001 and 2002, since then there have been six different winners in victory lane at the end of 400 miles in the Sunflower state.