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Horsepower Fantasy Racing: Picks for the CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega

Race Graphic
Race Graphic

When this weekend’s action is complete, the Contender 12 will get reduced to the Eliminator 8.  Four drivers will see their quest come to a conclusion, and only race for the glory to close out the season.

There is one big difference between when the Challenger Round came to a conclusion, and when the Contender Round comes to an end.  The difference:  control.

At Dover, every Chase driver had control of their own destiny.  All they had to do was run the best possible race they could, and let the points fall as they may to decide who moves in and who is left out.  This time, the control factor is key on what others do.  This time, the only way to race is to lay on the loud pedal, and trust that those that surround the car do not make a mistake, and when needed could actually move them to the front.

The restriction on the engines takes away the control one has on their own race, and the draft can either move one forward, or leave one hanging.

Do you drop back, or run out front?  Do you pair up and find someone who will work with you to make it to the front, whether that individual be a teammate or of the same brand?

This is what is defined as control when the control of a single destiny is determined by others.  This is…Talladega.

The true “wild card” race in the Chase has arrived, and the uneasiness, the pressure, and the unknown all come with it.  For the writers, one lap, or even one corner, could eliminate them from another chance to move on in the Chase.  They are ready, and maybe worried, once the green flag waves.  That means until the last lap, that worry will not go away.

Here’s who they hope will win, or at the very least survive, the CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega:

 

Misan Akuya:  Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Let’s see, in the plate races this year he’s finished third, first, and first in that order. Junior Nation should be feeling pretty good.

Rob Blount:  Matt Kenseth

No reason given.

Mary Jo Buchanan:  Dale Earnhardt Jr.

No reason given.

Kara Martin:  Matt Kenseth

No reason given.

Ashley McCubbin:  Jamie McMurray

He always run up front at the restrictor plate race and knows the moves that he needs to make it to be there at the end. Eight of the last 11 races at Talladega have been won by non-Chase drivers. Look for that number to grow this weekend.

Klarissa Mitchell:  Dale Earnhardt Jr.

No reason given.

Dustin Parks:  Dale Earnhardt Jr.

As the leader, and even with only a 16-point cushion, I feel pretty good about playing favorites this week.  When you haven’t finished outside the top-five in all of the previous plate races, and when two of those are actually wins, it’s kinda hard not to pick against this guy.  Not to mention, he is the last one to sweep both races at Talladega, that coming back in 2002, so I’m pretty confident this will be a good choice.

Patti Rodisch:  Denny Hamlin

Hamlin is just as good as Earnhardt at Talladega. He knows how to maintain track position ( which will be key) and survive. Hamlin advances to round 3 with a win.

Sal Sigala Jr:  Dale Earnhardt Jr.

No reason given.

Rob Tiongson:  Kevin Harvick

I really wanted to use this pick for Phoenix but in the last four races at Talladega, Kevin Harvick has been solid and consistent.  I look for the defending champion to be stout on Sunday.

 

Contender Round after Kansas:

Dustin Parks (3084) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd – 3

Misan Akuya (3068) Martin Truex Jr. finished 15th – 2

Rob Tiongson (3054) Martin Truex Jr. finished 15th – 4

Sal Sigala Jr. (3045) Kyle Busch finished 5th – 3

Kara Martin (3040) Jeff Gordon finished 10th – 2

Patti Rodisch (3038) Matt Kenseth finished 14th – 4

Mary Jo Buchanan (3035) Carl Edwards finished 8th – 1

Ashley McCubbin (3032) Kevin Harvick finished 16th – 1

Rob Blount (2115) NO PICK SENT – 2

Klarissa Mitchell (2112) Jeff Gordon finished 10th – 0

 

Final Remarks:  There is no true way to predict who is good at a track where everyone is on even footing.  The draft plays such a big part in how one runs here, one lap could be an excellent feeling but then the next it is all wrong.  One could be in the top-10 in one corner, but by the time they exit, they could be running 20th.

There is no clear way to determine who is truly the best at such a race, but the way to win is to simply be at the right place, at the right time, and make the right moves to get there.

That’s how the Intimidator was able to win 10 races at this place, and how many other veterans have been able to understand exactly how to get to victory lane.  Come Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET, the quest to survive Talladega will begin, and when it is all said and done, eight drivers will be moving onto the next round.  Four more will take off the yellow accents, and finish out the season simply for pride.

 

Summary of Picks:

Dale Earnhardt Jr-5

Matt Kenseth-2

Denny Hamlin-1

Kevin Harvick-1

Jamie McMurray-1

About Dustin Parks

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