Our first week of our expanded writer pool is behind us, and needless to say: Nobody correctly picked the winner.
The Coca-Cola 600 became the Coca-Cola 340.5 and threw our writers here on Bleacher Report a curve-ball as the finishing order was mixed up a little.
Two of our newest additions correctly picked the highest finishing driver, with Mason Dunn and James Broomhead both selected second-place finisher Ryan Newman.
Back at the top of the points, Ben Bomberger gained little ground on points leader M.J. Buchanan with his pick of Kyle Busch, who brought home a sixth-place finish.
Buchanan's selection of Jeff Gordon struggled early and used pit strategy late to come home 14th.
Buchanan maintained a 32-point lead over second-place Adam Heasley, as the duo both selected Gordon to hoist the trophy in Concord.
Ben Bomberger—Mark Martin
Just when we all put Martin on the chopping block and said he should hang up his steering wheel, he knocks off two wins and puts himself in Chase contention.
Martin is one of the hottest drivers on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit right now, and Dover is a place he's comfortable with.
At Dover: Martin has four wins, 21 top fives, 28 top-10s, four poles, an average finish of 12.8, and an average running position of 9.8 (fifth-best).
In Loop Data (since 2005) Martin has a Driver Rating of 100.6 (sixth-best), 217 Fastest Laps Run (fourth-most), an Average Green Flag Speed of 141.421 MPH (sixth-fastest), 2,463 Laps in the Top 15 (76.9 percent, fourth-most), and 172 Quality Passes (sixth-most).
Dark Horse: Martin Truex Jr.
James Broomhead—Carl Edwards
Between all the talk of Jeff Gordon breaking his streak, Dale Earnhardt Jr. setting on, and Mark Martin going to race on until he physically can't pull of that through-the-window entry the fact that the man who could have won the Sprint Cup last year hasn't won a race has slipped by unnoticed.
But at a track where Roush could have the upper hand he'll take his first trophy of the year.
M.J. Buchanan—Carl Edwards
My pick for this weekend at the Monster Mile is Carl Edwards. Cousin Carl just likes concrete and has an amazing record of driving on that surface in Cup, Nationwide or even when he was in the Truck series.
He's won at Dover, had some really good finishes and has an average finish there of 7.7 according to the stats. So, I'm predicting the the Aflac duck will be doing some back flips in Victory Lane this weekend.
Kelly Crandall—Ryan Newman
Mason Dunn—Carl Edwards
It was a difficult decision to make this week and through it all and looking at all the various factors going into Dover I have to go with "Cousin Carl" to be the "Monster Slayer."
Edwards has always been a good driver on concrete tracks and with the current lack of performance out of the Roush Fenway stable look for them to put all their effort into making sure that Edwards has a stout piece this weekend.
Combine that with Edwards' patient attitude and ability to stay out of trouble and avoid the big one, yeah there can be big ones at Dover it's "Monster Mile" for a reason, and you get the perfect formula for a win in the Autism Speaks 400.
Besides, Edwards has been itching to win and the elevated finish to the race at Talladega only increased his desire to win and it will come to a point this weekend in Gatorade Victory Lane. Don't be surprised to see him win the Prelude to the Dream and carry that momentum into Sunday's race.
Adam Heasley—Jeff Gordon
Dark Horse: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Danielle Henderson—Ryan Newman
Ryan has been on the ball for about about four weeks. He came very close to winning the Coca-Cola 340.5 (aka, Coca-Cola 600).
I think that if the rain would have held up at Charlotte then Newman would have won. Newman will have more momentum then anyone in the field at Dover and will take the checkered flag (and also give that "W" I need for our point standings)!
Kara Martin—Ryan Newman
It was a toss up between Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards, but in the end I chose Newman based on his history at Dover.
Newman has three wins at this track and a handful of top fives and 10s.
The "Rocket Man" is inching his way up in the top 12 in points and after Stewart's All-Star win I think a friendly battle between teammates is on.
Stewart's million dollar win definitely earned him bragging rights, but a points race win is what it's all about at this stage of the game!
I chose Stewart to prevail in Charlotte, but we'll never know what the "true" outcome would have been thanks to Mother Nature's intervention, but I am still convinced that the Stewart-Haas boys are the ones to watch!
Newman is in a great position to get his first win in 2009 this weekend and have faith that Flyin' Ryan will get it done!
S.M. Napier—Ryan Newman
This week at Dover, I'm staying with Stewart-Haas Racing, but picking Ryan Newman, who's stats speak for themselves. 14 races, four poles, three wins, six top fives, eight top 10 finishes, led 813 laps, 8.4 AvSt, and 10.5 AvFn.
Kyle Ocker—Carl Edwards
Carl Edwards is still winless, that is until after the Dover weekend is over. I have a feeling that this team will begin perform to the level that they did in 2008.
David Phillips—Scott Speed
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Jen Preston—Martin Truex Jr.
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Rob Tiongson—Kyle Busch
Last week, I was snakebitten by the rains of Concord, NC when I went with Jeff Gordon. It would be easy to go ahead and pick him again for this Sunday at Dover, but I have to go with Kyle Busch this weekend.
He won at Bristol earlier in the year, he won here last June, and he seems to have a handle on these concrete, high banked tracks.
As long as he does not lose his cool on Sunday, I could care less if he slips past the interviewers in the Nationwide event if he runs into some kind of failure there. It will only make Shrub much more hungrier for the win on Sunday...he'll beat corporate teammate Denny Hamlin to the line, as I see it.
SUMMARY OF PICKS:
Carl Edwards — (4)
Ryan Newman — (4)
Kyle Busch — (1)
Jeff Gordon — (1)
Mark Martin — (1)
Scott Speed — (1)
Martin Truex Jr. — (1)
Here is a look at how each writer's pick fared last week, as well as the point standings (with total wins in parenthesis):
M.J. Buchanan, 1789, Gordon finished 14th. (0)
Adam Heasley, 1757, Gordon finished 14th. (2)
Kelly Crandall, 1709, Jimmie Johnson finished 13th. (1)
Ben Bomberger, 1652, Kyle Busch finished sixth. (0)
S.M. Napier, 1584, Tony Stewart finished 19th. (2)
David Phillips, 1517, Johnson finished 13th. (1)
James Broomhead, 175, Newman finished second. (0)
Mason Dunn, 175, Newman finished second. (0)
Kyle Ocker, 129, Johnson finished 13th. (0)
Rob Tiongson, 121, Gordon finished 14th. (0)
Danielle Henderson, 106, Tony Stewart finished 19th. (0)
Kara Martin, 106, Stewart finished 19th. (0)
Jen Preson, 40, Kevin Harvick finished 41st. (0)
Remember, during the regular season, our writers are trying to collect as many wins as possible.
After Richmond, points will be re-set with each writer receiving 10 points for correctly picking a winner during the season.
For the final 10 races, the points will matter, and a Creature vs. Creature Champion will be crowned following the season finale in Homestead.