Creature Vs. Creature Writers Pool: Picks For the Price Chopper 400 at Kansas
So far, NASCAR has gone flat-track racing at New Hampshire and last week decided to tackle the "Monster" at Dover. What lies ahead in the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup?
How about a trip down Tornado Alley?
Ah, the Kansas Speedway, a place where not even Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, or the Cowardly Lion could ever anticipate meeting. But if there's one thing we have learned at Kansas, it's that sometimes the twister that arrives isn't a funnel cloud.
Who can forget just three years ago when heavy rains hampered the speedway, with many teams figuring the race would be called. Tony Stewart stayed out front, knowing he would be the winner.
But the rains cleared and NASCAR decided to continue. However, the race was cut short of it's scheduled distance. Stewart then starts saving fuel and gets caught up in a wreck.
Then the race gets shortened again and soon darkness fell upon the race track. In the end it would be Greg Biffle coasting across the line on the final lap to win. But he wasn't the first car across the line, so controversy still remains as to who should have won that afternoon, or night as it would be.
Two years ago Carl Edwards made a daring pass on Jimmie Johnson to get the lead two corners away from the checkered flag. But he slid up the track and into the wall, allowing Johnson the opening to get the victory.
Last year Tony Stewart got his fourth win of the season out on the plains, as he continued his great season.
So, what's in store this year?
Hopefully for some of our creatures, another victory or another great finish. Last week one writer made the best pick by going with Johnson to win at Dover. However, another four picked a top-five finish while another had a top-10.
Only 74 points separate the top-five, so every finish is critical as the Chase continues. Here's a look at who the writers believe will be the winner in Sunday's Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft.
Misan Ayuka: A.J. Allmendinger
I went to Dover last Sunday and watched A.J. Allmendinger deliever a performance like a Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth at Dover.
Allmendinger had only led 43 in his career, but Sunday he led 143 laps. The last three races he has been one of the fastest cars. A win could be just around the corner for him.
He has a top ten at Kansas, so him getting his first career win there could happen.
Kyle Brandt: Jeff Gordon
He has an average finish of third at Kansas since the COT was implemented in 2008.
He has the best average finish (8.89) among all Cup drivers since Kansas was added to the schedule in 2001, as well as winning the first two races at Kansas in 2001 and 2002.
James Broomhead: Tony Stewart
Making ground in the Chase, for us creatures as well as the drivers themselves, is as much about avoiding a bad finish as it is getting a good one.
Stewart won Kansas' one and only race last year as he challenged for the title, and if anyone is (normally) some sort of model of consistency then I want to rely on Smoke. Just no fuel mileage shenanigans this time please, Tony.
Billy Fellin: Jeff Gordon
Why not? He's gotta win eventually and he has 2 wins at the track. Gimme the 24 this week.
Christopher Leone: Greg Biffle
I’ve gone on the record multiple times saying that Biffle has been anonymous within the Chase and I still believe he has been.
Biffle is a Kansas star, with five podium finishes in eight starts and no finishes with Roush worse than 12th. His average finish is a flat 9.0. Safe bet? I think so.
Kara Martin: Jeff Gordon
NO REASON GIVEN
Dustin Parks: Tony Stewart
I may be going out on a limb here because I was tossing between Smoke and Carl Edwards at this track. On the one hand, in 2008, Edwards nearly had the victory in hand after passing Jimmie Johnson on the last lap. He lost because he slid up the track and hit the wall.
On the other hand, Smoke had the best car last year and went on to get his second win at Kansas. The win brought him closer to the lead in the Chase, where he would finish fourth after falling behind to the Hendricks trio that dominated the Chase.
Ultimately that was the deciding factor. Stewart has two wins, four top-fives, six top-10s, and averages a finish of 13.2. This weekend the Office Depot is making a house call and I'm going with Stewart to be the one making the delivery.
Rob Tiongson: Tony Stewart
I have to side with Smoke at a track that he's got a good feel for. He's a two-time race winner at this facility and the defending race winner at Kansas.
If there's ever been a good time for the No. 14 team to put an exclamation point in their sponsorship search, why not in the backyard of the series' title sponsor?
Alan Wade: Jeff Gordon
Gordon has seven top-10s in nine races at Kansas and two wins. They have been knocking on the door to a win. Now is the time for the 24 team to make a charge to the top.
Amazingly, an 11th place finish at Dover dropped them four places in the points! I hope the chase stays this tight till the last race.
STANDINGS FOLLOWING DOVER:
Dustin Parks (5,390) Kyle Busch finished sixth (5)
Christopher Leone (5,375) Carl Edwards finished fifth (4)
Rob Tiongson (5,365) Carl Edwards finished fifth (2)
Alan Wade (5,360) Jimmie Johnson WON (2)
James Broomhead (5,316) Greg Biffle finished 19th (4)
Misan Ayuka (5,276) Carl Edwards finished fifth (2)
Kara Martin (5,224) Greg Biffle finished 19th (3)
Kyle Brandt (5,222) Greg Biffle finished 19th (2)
Billy Fellin (5,136) Greg Biffle finished 19th (3)
The Wicked Witch of the West could not predict who is going to win this race, but she certainly will be weaving her wand of terror.
But at the end of 400 miles, someone is going to be saying "There's no place like home" once they pull into victory lane. Coverage is on ESPN starting at 1 p.m. ET.
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