There is nothing like coming home for NASCAR. The big week for the Sprint Cup Series continues as on the schedule this week is the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
A few days ago, CEO Brian France announced the five new members of the Hall Of Fame that are to be inducted next May. Lee Petty, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Ned Jarrett and Bud Moore are the next drivers to take their place in NASCAR's newest facility.
At the same time, there is no better feeling than having the bulk of NASCAR teams coming home to their back yard.
Earlier this year, Kurt Busch not only won the Coca-Cola 600, but he made an entire sweep of the Charlotte Speedweeks, as he won the All-Star Race the week prior. The Chase has not been kind to the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, and Busch needs a rebound to get momentum heading into the last five races.
Last week, it was Tony Stewart ending the Jimmie Johnson stranglehold on the Auto Club Speedway by getting his second win on the season.
Stewart moved up from 10th to fifth in the standings, and also provided one of our creatures with another victory on the season.
The interesting thing thus far through the first four races in the Chase: At least one of our creatures has won each week. Can that streak be continued at Charlotte?
Let's find out tomorrow night. Here are our writers' picks for the Bank of America 500.
Misan Ayuka: Jamie McMurray
McMurray has had a good comeback season in winning the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400. He has eight top-fives, 10 top-10s and is 14th in points to boot, just missing out on the Chase.
He came close to winning the Coca Cola 600 in May if not for a caution and bad pit stop that made him settle for second. Big Mac got his first win in his second start here in 2002 and has four top-fives, seven top-10s, 168 laps led and an average finish of 16.63 to go along with his win.
McMurray is preparing to put himself in position to be solidly in the 2011 Chase and contend for a championship. A second win at Charlotte would be what he needs going forward.
Kyle Brandt: NO PICK SENT
No pick sent at posting time.
James Broomhead: Ryan Newman
OK, so I have Jimmie Johnson saved up for a rainy day, but Newman is as good a second choice as any, as I try to apply tactics to make up ground in our own Chase.
Billy Fellin: Kasey Kahne
He finished fourth at Fontana and has always run well at Charlotte.
Christopher Leone: Jimmie Johnson
No, it's not just because I'm disappointed with last week's failures, it's because I had this budgeted out before the season. While you can pick Johnson at just about any track and get away with it, his numbers are absurd compared to the competition at Charlotte.
Six wins in 18 starts with 13 top-10s is huge. The only reason his average finish flutters into the double digits is because of a few DNFs, but hey, we've all been there.
Kara Martin: Kyle Busch
Since I am doing so poorly in the standings, I am going to pull my remaining picks out of a hat. I can't possibly do much worse than I am right now!
Dustin Parks: Kurt Busch
Ok, this may be a bit of a stretch for me, but I'm going for something that I have never seen done at this track in five years. The last time one driver swept both races at Charlotte was in 2006 when Kasey Kahne found victory lane both times.
Kurt Busch has a chance to do that on Saturday.
In fact, he has a chance to accomplish something no other driver can claim to have done. If he wins at Charlotte this week, he will become the first driver to win the All-Star Race, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Bank of America 500 in one season.
His numbers may not put him as a top contender, with only four top-fives and five top-10s to go with his win and an average finish of 20th. But, when your back is against the wall, it's time to lay it on the line.
Going with the blue deuce this week.
Rob Tiongson: Jeff Gordon
I have to go with a driver probably not on the minds of most racers, but after Tony Stewart's second win of the season, you have to believe that Gordon's time to respond and snap his winless streak will happen now.
He's been searching for speed all year long and they've been hitting at it. Provided they qualify well and have a car good on long runs, Saturday night's all right for the DuPont Chevy to win on track for title number five.
Repeat after me!
Alan Wade: Kurt Busch
Can he win his third in a row? I am guessing a win or top-five. The team needs it after some of the bad luck they have had early in the chase.
STANDINGS FOLLOWING CALIFORNIA:
Dustin Parks (5,730) Jimmie Johnson finished third (5)
Rob Tiongson (5,705) Jimmie Johnson finished third (2)
James Broomhead (5,646) Kasey Kahne finished fourth (4)
Christopher Leone (5,628) Kyle Busch finished 35th (5)
Alan Wade (5,581) Carl Edwards finished 34th (2)
Misan Ayuka (5,556) Kevin Harvick finished seventh (2)
Kyle Brandt (5,552) Jimmie Johnson finished third (2)
Kara Martin (5,526) Denny Hamlin finished eighth (3)
Billy Fellin (5,486) Tony Stewart WON (4)
The picks this week are all over the board, meaning that there is a strong chance that only one person could get a victory. Just like NASCAR, parity seems to run rampant every week.
Can Stewart continue the momentum he's gained in the Chase? Will Johnson get another victory at his "yard" and increase his points lead? Will the No. 24 of Jeff Gordon finally get to victory lane?
We will all find out when the green flag waves at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night. Coverage this week is on ABC.
Summary of Picks:
Kurt Busch: 2
Kyle Busch: 1
Jeff Gordon: 1
Jimmie Johnson: 1
Kasey Kahne: 1
Jamie McMurray: 1
Ryan Newman: 1