If there's one thing we have all learned from how this season has gone, it is to expect the unexpected. It can happen at any time and after any race.
Coming out of New Hampshire, it appeared a new title contender had emerged. Clint Bowyer led 177 of the 300 laps and had just enough fuel to take the checkered flag.
But then things began unraveling. After having his car barely passed inspection following Richmond, NASCAR warned the team to be careful at the next race. Following his win, Bowyer's car passed post-race inspection, but then was taken to the R&D Center for evaluation.
Sixty thousandths of an inch is all it was. Less than 1/16th of an inch was how far off the measurements on the rear end was for the car.
What did it cost Bowyer? How about 150 points, dropping him from second to 12th in the standings. He also has lost Shane Wilson and his car chief for six races.
That means for the bulk of the Chase, including some of Bowyer's tougher tracks, he is going to rely on backups to get the job done.
Bowyer's punishment begins this weekend at a track known for being tough on equipment and tempers. "Miles the Monster" is overlooking his concrete home as the Chase makes stop No. 2 of the season at the Dover International Speedway.
Multiple grooves are found on the racing surface, but the racing lanes are tight and coming off the corners it is almost impossible to run two or three wide.
That kind of racing provides a lot of excitement and many unexpected twists. Last week one car fell in the points, so what can happen this time?
Some of our creatures picked correctly last week, not just in victory, but also in the top-five. Can someone new emerge as a victor at the "Monster Mile?"
It's not known as of yet, but here are our writer's picks for the AAA 400 at Dover.
Misan Ayuka: Carl Edwards
After the crushing blow at New Hampshire—being a lap away from victory, only to fall short—I am picking Carl Edwards to grab his first win of the season. Edwards has the best average finish of all drivers at Dover with a seventh. He has had a top ten here at all but two races.
Watch for Edwards, he could be doing a back flip near you.
Kyle Brandt: Greg Biffle
Greg has an average finish of fifth with four top-tens since 2008. Dover may just be his best shot to win during the Chase.
James Broomhead: Greg Biffle
Whenever I think of Dover in recent years I get flashbacks to the Jack's nerve jangling battle between Biffle, Kenseth, and Edwards a few years ago.
It also proves that Roush has pedigree around the Monster Mile. That's all the reason I need to put Biffle up for a good run this weekend.
Billy Fellin: Greg Biffle
He's just been absolutely on fire the past few races at Dover. He could be a surprise mover in the Chase here, so I'm going with the No. 16.
over in the Chase here, so I'm going with the 16 car.
Christopher Leone: Carl Edwards
Edwards showed a lot in the early to middle stages at Loudon. At Dover, his 7.9 average finish makes him the only driver to keep that stat in the single digits.
Might as well use him up while he’s hot.
Kara Martin: Greg Biffle
NO REASON SENT AT POSTING.
Dustin Parks: Kyle Busch
If you want to determine who to pick at the "Monster Mile" there's an easy pick. Who better to choose than a guy named "Rowdy."
He won here in the spring and has always been very competitive at Dover. He has another win here back in 2008, plus another six top-fives and six top-10s. There's really no better driver that I can pick to get a victory at this track.
When it comes to Dover, one must get rowdy to win. I have to pick the No. 18 on this one for that reason.
Rob Tiongson: Carl Edwards
I look for this weekend to be the true affirmation of Roush-Fenway Racing thus far in 2010. Sure three of their teams are in the Chase, and while that may seem stellar, it hasn't exactly been a wonderful year for the prominent Ford Racing organization.
The man called "Cousin Carl" will find himself, along with the duck, in Victory Lane after 400 hardy laps, and thus, we'll see the trademark flip.
Alan Wade: Jimmie Johnson
Johnson has dominated at times at the Monster Mile. I hope I am wrong with this pick and he wrecks!
Standings following New Hampshire:
Dustin Parks (5,235) Clint Bowyer WON (5)
James Broomhead (5,210) Denny Hamlin finished second (4)
Christopher Leone (5,210) Denny Hamlin finished second (4)
Rob Tiongson (5,205) Clint Bowyer WON (2)
Alan Wade (5,165) Kevin Harvick finished fifth (1)
Kara Martin (5,118) Jimmie Johnson finished 25th (3)
Misan Ayuka (5,116) Tony Stewart finished 24th (2)
Kyle Brandt (5,116) Tony Stewart finished 24th (2)
Billy Fellin (5,030) NO PICK SENT (3)
Dover has always been a track where wrecks can take out any driver at any time. Last year Joey Logano went for his first end-over-end flip in the Sprint Cup Series. At the same time, many of the Chase drivers have shown to be strong at this track.
All but three drivers, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, and Kevin Harvick, have at least one win at Dover. There is a chance that that could stay the same and Chase implications could come of it.
Who is going to defeat the "Monster?" Find out Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPN.
SUMMARY OF PICKS: