NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fantasy Friday: Don’t be surprised to see points leaders lead the pack

It’s Week six of the Chase, and, yes, the same guys who were on top going into Charlotte are on top going into Kansas. The only difference is that now, Clint Bowyer, is a legitimate contender as he is 28 points back with five to go. He’s still a long shot, but at least it’s possible for him to rally. And speaking of top contenders, you just might notice a theme in this week’s picks. That’s partially because past history at Kansas won’t mean much as this is the first race on the re-paved track.

Top 5 Picks

1. Brad Keselowski. No matter what his history on these final tracks, he’s pretty much a must pick here. Just for the record, he does have a win and a top 5 in five races at Kansas.

2. Jimmie Johnson. Five-timer hasn’t really had a hot streak yet and he’s just seven points out of the lead. That’s not good for everybody else and he does have two wins at Kansas.

3. Denny Hamlin. He’s right there, too, just 15 points back. Hamlin’s the kind of driver that can win three or four in a row and he has a win and two top 5s in nine races at Kansas.

4. Clint Bowyer. This is considered his home track and teams get pumped up when their driver has a shot at the title and they are on their home track. He just might win two in a row, and if he does that, it should put him right in the mix with the first three.

5. Carl Edwards. True, he’s never won at Kansas, he’s not in the Chase, and he hasn’t won since the Las Vegas race in March, 2011. He used to be a weekly contender to win, but no more of late. So why pick him here? I’d just like to see that victory back flip.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda: Tony Stewart. He’s 50 points behind and is pretty much in a win at all costs mode. Plus he did win a fuel-mileage race at Kansas when he was not in the Chase. He does have another win at Kansas, too, so it’s always dangerous to not pick him here.

Here’s a look at how last week’s picks fared in Week 5 of the Chase at Charlotte.

Kyle Busch – 5th. He seemed to be in contention for much of the race, but never actually led a lap.

Kasey Kahne – 8th. He was in the top 10 pretty much all night, but never a factor to win the race nor did he lead a lap.

Matt Kenseth – 14th. Never was close to pulling off a two wins in a row.

Kevin Harvick – 16th. A win can come at any time, but even though he’s in the Chase, it would be a surprise to see him in Victory Lane these days.

Jeff Gordon – 18th. Seemed destined to get a top 10-finish but was caught speeding on pit road, and the drive-through penalty put him out of contention.

Season Stats
155 Predictions
15 Wins
49 Top 5s
70 Top 10s

Grade for the week: D. Yes, the fuel-saving game played a part in this one, but none of my picks were serious contenders to win.

One last thing: The last non-Chaser to win the Kansas fall race was Greg Biffle in 2007.

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