It has come down to one race, one final opportunity, and one last checkered flag to decide a champion.
This Sunday is the final race of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
It's been a year that has seen the good and bad of some drivers, both on and off the track. There have been intentional wrecks, face-to-face confrontations and emotional celebrations. Tears of joy have been shed, while angry attitudes have sometimes been the talk of the garage.
After 35 races, it boils down to 400 more miles to crown a champion.
NASCAR is seeing the tightest Chase for the Cup since it's inception back in 2004. There are three contenders that could come out of the Homestead-Miami Speedway as the champion.
Sitting at the top is Denny Hamlin, a driver who has the most wins on the season, but finds himself in a very precarious position. Last week, Hamlin had the opportunity to extend his lead on his competition, but his fuel cell had other plans. After leading the most laps, Hamlin wound up 12th.
What was a 33-point lead is now 15, and it leaves Hamlin with only one way to guarantee a title. Simply put, he needs to win. Leading the most laps won't mean anything unless he wins.
His closest competition is the No. 48, driven by the four-time defending champion, Jimmie Johnson. With the Lowe's team now the chaser, it's a new position for them, but one that Johnson seems to like. It means that if he wins the title, he earned it outright, and didn't have to cruise to a finish in the season finale.
Finally, there's Kevin Harvick.
While the focus is on the No. 11 and No. 48, here's the No. 29 team that simply needs to run their own race. Johnson and Hamlin are worried about each other, and that means Harvick could pounce and take the title away from both of them.
It's the most anticipated season finale in the Chase since it's inception in 2004. Who will win the title is anyone's guess, but our creatures are more focused on who will win the race.
Because it is the final race of the season, all our creatures get special recognition this week. Each gets their own slide, and we will work in reverse order, from the writer currently last up to the points leader.
Now, without any more hesitation, here are the writers' picks for victory in Sunday's Ford 400.