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Horsepower Fantasy Racing: Picks for the Coca-Cola 600

Over the course of it’s existence, NASCAR has seen races that defined it’s legacy in the history of this country.  Since 1959, the Daytona 500 has evolved into the season-opening celebration to start the entire year on a note that is unmatched.

The Southern 500 has long been a race where the drivers long to win, because the track is who each individual faces off with, not the other competitors.

But there’s a rare occasion when a race is considered a marque event but it happens when there’s sorrow in the air.  The Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway has become not just about racing, but honor and loss.  When fans come to Concord, they understand the weekend is filled with loss, since it is all about remembering the individuals who paid the greatest price to keep the country free to actually enjoy a weekend at the race track.  It’s a weekend to honor sacrifice, while in turn the race itself is one that has no equal.

It has no equal because it is beyond any distance at any race during the season.

That extra 100 miles is the difference.  It’s transitioning from being in bright sunlight, then watching the sun set over the backstretch.  The lights get turned on as twilight lingers, then when finally the checkered flag waves the skies are showing stars to go along with the fireworks.

It is NASCAR’s endurance race, it’s marathon, it’s kickoff to the summer, and a race everyone wants to win.

All the writers in the league want to win this race, because each know what it means to take home a victory at Charlotte on this particular weekend.  This is the race that concludes a day where Formula 1 hits the streets at Monaco, and then Indy Car takes to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 100th running of their marque event.

Now, who exactly did the 14 writers choose for victory?  Let’s look at their decisions for the longest, most challenging, and most patriotic race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600:

 

Misan Akuya:  Tony Stewart

So far, this retirement tour has not gone that way that Stewart and many others have hoped, from the injury to some wrecks not of his doing.  It doesn’t seem right for a for sure first ballot Hall of Famer to end like this.  Stewart has came close to winning the 600, only to be foiled by engines, fuel mileage, and tires.  I say that it’s only right that he is able to grab a win to make up for that.  A solid run at Kansas showed promise.  And 600 miles a long time.

Rob Blount:  Kevin Harvick

No reason given.

Mary Jo Buchanan:  Jimmie Johnson

Going with Iron Man!

Stephen Conley:  Carl Edwards

No reason given.

Billy Fellin:  Joey Logano

Going for the sweep, I think he can do it and get back on track.

Ashley Hobbs:  Kyle Larson

I’m going for the stars on this one.  Larson will get himself redemption!

Ashley Hull:  Martin Truex Jr.

No reason given.

Kara Martin:  Dale Earnhardt Jr.

No reason given.

Ashley McCubbin:  Kevin Harvick

No reason given.

Klarissa Mitchell:  Jamie McMurray

No reason given.

Dustin Parks:  Kasey Kahne

I am really taking a gamble here in all honesty.  This is a contract year for Kahne, and he was involved in a lot of the rumors regarding Kevin Harvick and SHR, especially with that organization switching to Ford beginning next season.  With all of those rumors now erased, and Harvick signing long term, Kahne now has to prove to himself and his team that he can still get the job done in the No. 5.  His owner officially is becoming a Hall Of Fame inductee next January, and Kahne himself has won the 600 on three occasions, two with Petty back in 2006 and 2008, and once with Hendrick.  I say his fourth comes on Sunday.

Patti Rodisch:  Kevin Harvick

No reason given.

Sal Sigala Jr:  Kevin Harvick

No reason given.

Rob Tiongson:  Carl Edwards

I see the Toyota/Joe Gibbs Racing Express continuing to make their trips to Victory Lane.  Come Sunday evening, it’ll be Carl Edwards scoring consecutive Coca-Cola 600 wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

 

Standings after Dover:

Ashley McCubbin (421) Jimmie Johnson finished 25th – 2

Sal Sigala Jr. (364) Kevin Harvick finished 15th – 2

Dustin Parks (363) Kyle Busch finished 30th – 1

Ashley Hull (336) Jimmie Johnson finished 25th – 5

Patti Rodisch (336) Jimmie Johnson finished 25th – 2

Kara Martin (328) Kevin Harvick finished 15th – 1

Rob Blount (321) Kevin Harvick finished 15th – 2

Mary Jo Buchanan (299) Martin Truex Jr. finished 9th – 1

Misan Akuya (296) Carl Edwards finished 28th – 2

Klarissa Mitchell (290) Martin Truex Jr. finished 9th – 1

Rob Tiongson (280) Martin Truex Jr. finished 9th – 2

Billy Fellin (278) Jimmie Johnson finished 25th – 1

Ashley Hobbs (256) NO PICK SENT – 1

Stephen Conley (240) Martin Truex Jr. finished 9th – 0

 

Final Thoughts:  On behalf of the other 13 writers that are in this league for 2016, we want to all say thank you to our Armed Forces here at home, and abroad, for keeping us free.  We know you choose to leave your families and take the risk of not coming home, and know that you do so knowing your brothers and sisters from combat past have done just that.

But we as Americans appreciate what you are doing, and continue to do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.

And on a personal note, to my friends who have served in various branches of the Armed Forces, I thank you and I am so proud to stand beside you not just as a friend, but a proud American.

 

Summary of Picks:

Kevin Harvick-4

Carl Edwards-2

Dale Earnhardt Jr-1

Jimmie Johnson-1

Kasey Kahne-1

Kyle Larson-1

Joey Logano-1

Jamie McMurray-1

Tony Stewart-1

Martin Truex Jr-1

About Dustin Parks

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