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Horsepower Fantasy Racing: Picks For the Bojangles’ Southern 500

What tracks in the sport simply scream out that they are what NASCAR is all about?  Daytona is where the season starts, the center of the racing world for one weekend in February.  Charlotte is the central hub of the sport, where its Hall of Fame is located, along with many of the teams.

However, one track is such a big part of the sport, it screams tradition.  It’s a track that is unlike anything on the circuit.  Sized differently, shaped differently, and ran completely different than any other circuit.

That must be the reason it is always “Too Tough To Tame.”

It is back to South Carolina, and returning to the roots of the sport at one of the oldest speedways on the tour.  This lady is ready to dance because it is Labor Day weekend, and that means it’s time to visit Darlington.

It is also the weekend the sport honors the past, the drivers, the teams, and the overall beginnings of what the sport once was.  It is a race where teams decide to throw it back, and give unique appearances to the cars on the track.  Last year’s return to Labor Day kicked off the celebration, and for an encore, the sport went even farther.  Nearly the entire field is running a classic paint scheme of some kind (more on those in a little bit).

This track is one very unique place to run, and that is certainly going to make it difficult to decide who will be victorious.  Yet, the writers have figured that out.  Let’s take a look at their picks to win the Bojangles’ Southern 500:


Misan Akuya:  Tony Stewart

This is Tony Stewart’s last Southern 500 potentially.  He has no wins at Darlington and has hardly lead laps here.  In his last horrah, racing in a pretty great paint scheme, Smoke deserves to go out on top.

Rob Blount:  Kyle Busch

No reason given.

Mary Jo Buchanan:  Jeff Gordon

Going to have to go with a throwback driver!

Stephen Conley:  NO PICK

Deadline passed with no pick submitted.

Billy Fellin:  Carl Edwards

Carl won there last year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a repeat.

Ashley Hobbs:  Denny Hamlin

No reason given.

Ashley Hull:  Kevin Harvick

He was so close last year.

Kara Martin:  NO PICK

Deadline passed with no pick submitted.

Ashley McCubbin:  NO PICK

Deadline passed with no pick submitted.

Klarissa Mitchell:  Jamie McMurray

No reason given.

Dustin Parks:  Jeff Gordon

Throwback weekend, even for a substitute role, ya gotta go with a legend.  Besides, it certainly doesn’t hurt that he won five times in the Southern 500.

Patti Rodisch:  Jeff Gordon

No reason given.

Sal Sigala Jr:  Kevin Harvick

No reason given.

Rob Tiongson:  Jimmie Johnson

It’s appropriate that the old yellow and blue colors that David Pearson and Dale Earnhardt drove in 1979 return to the track that’s “Too Tough To Tame.”  Jimmie Johnson snaps Hendrick Motorsports’ “long” dryspell from Victory Lane with a pivotal win at Darlington on Sunday night.


Standings after Michigan:

Sal Sigala Jr. (767) Brad Keselowski finished 3rd – 2

Ashley McCubbin (729) Kevin Harvick finished 5th – 2

Ashley Hull (693) Joey Logano finished 10th – 8

Patti Rodisch (686) Joey Logano finished 10th – 3

Rob Blount (680) Joey Logano finished 10th – 4

Dustin Parks (659) Brad Keselowski finished 3rd – 1

Rob Tiongson (653) Chase Elliott finished 2nd – 2

Klarissa Mitchell (628) Matt Kenseth finished 13th – 1

Misan Akuya (624) Tony Stewart finished 21st – 3

Billy Fellin (608) Joey Logano finished 10th – 2

Mary Jo Buchanan (595) Brad Keselowski finished 3rd – 3

Ashley Hobbs (582) Carl Edwards finished 7th – 2

Stephen Conley (479) NO PICK SENT – 1

Kara Martin (477) NO PICK SENT – 1


Summary of Picks:

Jeff Gordon-3

Kevin Harvick-2

Kyle Busch-1

Carl Edwards-1

Denny Hamlin-1

Jimmie Johnson-1

Jamie McMurray-1

Tony Stewart-1


Now under normal circumstances, this would be the end of the picks piece, but because this weekend is such a big celebration of the sport’s past being honored, there is one more part to it.

This weekend, 37 of the 40 cars in the field are running schemes that are unlike what is seen on a normal weekend, even for teams that have multiple primary sponsors.  It’s a chance to run a scheme that has been on the track, or running a look to honor the beginnings of a sponsor, a team, or a certain individual.

So, along with the picks for victory, let us take a look at what the writers decided is the best paint scheme for the entire weekend at Darlington:


Misan Akuya, Mary Jo Buchanan, Ashley Hobbs:  Matt Kenseth’s Tide RideTide Ride

MA-Now, there are some great throwback paint scheme, when I saw Jamie Mac’s Mac tonight car, I said that he won.  But a day later, Matt Kenseth’s Tide car came out and he won.  Why?  That Tide paint scheme is just classic.  The drivers that raced it are classic (D.W, Ricky Rudd, Ricky Craven).  It brings back so many memories.  And it just
looks like it belongs out there every week.  It’s a scheme that I miss every week to be perfectly honest.  And Kenseth is a great guy to have the honor to race that Tide ride.

MJB-So many good memories of that car that it’s fun to see it come back.

AH-At first, I saw Kyle Busch and memories returned. Then I saw Kenseth’s and the nostalgia sank in! So, for the nostalgia reason, I am going with Kenseth’s Tide scheme.

Shell-PennzoilRob Blount:  Joey Logano’s Shell/Pennzoil tribute

The first ever race I ever went to was a Busch Series race at Dover in 1996. Bobby Labonte won that race in that paint scheme.

Mac TonightBilly Fellin, Dustin Parks:  Jamie McMurray’s “Mac Tonight” Chevrolet

BF-It’s 1997 and I’m nine-years-old and in the stands for the (then) Busch Series race at RIR. Of course, the (then) Winston Cup qualifying was before the Busch Series race and my favorite driver, Bill Elliott, was driving the MacTonight colors that race. I was really excited to see him race in person and especially in that paint scheme. It was even more special as he won the pole for that race. I still have a die-cast of that car today.

DP-When I was a kid watching the McDonald’s car, I always knew about the colors and the “Golden Arches.”  The red and yellow colors are iconic for that brand.  Then comes 1997, Richmond, and McDonald’s doing their new promotion about the Big Mac.  Out from the garage came the No. 94 Thunderbird decked out in this deep midnight blue.  You talk about a sharp-looking scheme, combined with the stars on the body to make it look like a scenic sky, it just works.  I literally predicted that if McMurray were to run a throwback, this is literally the only one that could work.  And believe me, it does.

Napa TruckKlarissa Mitchell:  Chase Elliott’s original NAPA truck

Some are honoring drivers, others are doing past looks for the team.  Chase is doing something unique, honoring his sponsor with the original design of their delivery truck.

Patti Rodisch, Sal Sigala Jr:  Tony Stewart honors Bobby Allison

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

PR-I really like Tony’s look, and who it represents.

SS-I like the Coca-Cola scheme that Smoke is running.  Bobby Allison is a legend in the sport and that paint scheme just is spot on.

Rob Tiongson:  Kyle Busch honoring the beginnings of JGR

Interstate BatteriesI have to say that Kyle Busch’s Dale Jarrett tribute car is the sweetest one of all.  It was the paint scheme that adorned Jarrett’s 1993 Daytona 500 winning car and it’s a race that’ll always be so special to me.  To see it realized again is about as sentimental as seeing the Jeff Gordon rainbow car back on track.

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