And then there were three.
When the green flag falls on the Dickies 500 Sunday at the Texas Motor Speedway, it’ll be the eighth race in the 2009 Chase for the Championship, with just three left to crown the Sprint Cup Series Champion.
Jimmie Johnson heads to the Great American Speedway with a 181-point lead over teammates Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon. Gordon returns to Texas after winning the track's spring event.
Our Creatures head to Texas looking for points they lost during last Sunday’s event at Talladega. This week the action should be a little less hectic and more of a fight to the finish for our title contenders.
Here’s whom they believe can put them in that position on Sunday afternoon in the Lone Star State.
Ben Bomberger: Kyle Busch
Last week I got Busch-whacked from the points lead by picking big brother Kurt, and this week I'm keeping it in the family by counting on the Shrub.
Busch has nine starts in Texas and has collected three top-fives, four top-10s, and an has an average finish of 16.4. All of which are nothing to brag about, but decent numbers to say the least.
Busch won the Nationwide race in Fort Worth last year, and I expect him to challenge for a win in the top Series on Sunday.
James Broomhead: Juan Pablo Montoya
I may be been bitten here a little by the "use a driver only once" rule, but Montoya isn't exactly a bad choice. Recent bad races aside he's been pretty consistent of late no matter where you take him. In truth, I don't expect Montoya to bring me home a win, but instead a solid top 10.
Mary Jo Buchanan: Kasey Kahne
Kahne will be making his 11th Cup start at TMS this weekend, where he scored a win at during the spring race in 2006.
In 10 starts at TMS, Kahne has accrued one win, two top-fives and two top 10 finishes. Kahne likes the track saying, “Texas is actually a really neat track. I’ve always liked Texas. It’s fast. The banking is awesome. It’s a little bit rough too. There are some spots that are rough, so you have that side where your car is bouncing around and you have to slide the back around. I enjoy racing there.”
Kelly Crandall: Kevin Harvick
The last time the series was at a big D-shaped oval (Lowe’s) I used Kasey Kahne as my pick to win, which means I need someone new for Texas. Since Texas, Lowe’s, and Atlanta all resemble each other I decided to go with Happy Harvick who nearly won the race at Atlanta in September.
Harvick and Richard Childress Racing have been making great strides in performance over the last few months and Harvick has shown he can now contend for wins.
If he’s going to pick up his, and RCR’s, first win of the season it wouldn’t be surprising to do so at the D-shaped Texas Motor Speedway.
Mason Dunn: No Pick Sent
No pick sent.
Adam Heasley: No Pick Sent
No pick sent.
Danielle Henderson: No Pick Sent
No pick sent.
Kara Martin: Juan Pablo Montoya
Don't know if this pick is going to pay off, a bit of a wildcard I know! Fingers crossed that Montoya will at least beat out the likes of Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick & bounce me to the lead! =)
SM Napier: Juan Pablo Montoya
Since I refuse to pick a Hendrick Motorsports driver, my No. 1 choice is out due to his broken foot. And if it’s the Truck race I’d be picking for it be Hornaday. So I’m just going to pick Juan Pablo Montoya at Texas this week and hope for the best.
David Phillips: No Pick Sent
No pick sent.
Jen Preston: Kevin Harvick
Texas may not be Happy’s best track, but he’s never had a DNF there and has an average finish of 13.9. After being caught up in Ryan Newman’s scary wreck last weekend and finishing 21, it’s time for Harvick and the RCR gang to have yet another good run.
Rob Tiongson: Joey Logano
It’s hard to ignore the fact that Logano has been steadily improving in the results department in the second half and he is truly knocking on the door for another victory in 2009.
If Jamie McMurray won at Talladega, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Texas pull off a wild card pick with Logano in Victory Lane.
After last weekend’s last lap chaos, here’s how the Creatures stack up coming into Texas.
Mary Jo Buchanan (6,115 ) Brian Vickers finished 13th (2 )
Ben Bomberger (-24 ) Kurt Busch finished 30th (4 )
Kara Martin (-67 ) Tony Stewart finished 35th (4 )
Kelly Crandall (-103 ) Kyle Busch finished 15th (2 )
Rob Tiongson (-139 ) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th (2 )
Jen Preston (-143 ) Joey Logano finished third (2 )
James Broomhead (-283 ) Tony Stewart finished 35th (3 )
Mason Dunn (-345 ) Erik Darnell finished 37th (0 )
SM Napier (-357 ) Tony Stewart finished 35th (3 )
Danielle Henderson (-519 ) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th (2 )
David Phillips (-560 ) NO PICK SENT (2 )
Adam Heasley (-1,085 ) NO PICK SENT (3 )
In order to win the Sprint Cup Series championship for 2009 Jimmie Johnson needs to average a tenth place finish in the final three races. That starts with this weekend’s event in Texas, where he finished 15th last year while all the other Chasers capitalize on his misfortune.
The past four winners of the Texas fall race are all in the 2009 Chase field, with Carl Edwards winning two of those events. He’s still win-less this season.
Don’t be surprised to see the winner of the event come from the top 10. In 13 of the 17 races that have been run at the Texas Motor Speedway, the winner has started eighth or better.