In his third season behind the wheel at P.E., this year was supposed to be the one where Bobby Labonte returned the No. 43 car to its former glory.
The intermediate track-heavy run to the finish is underway this week, and the heavy reliance on downforce and the resultant “aero push” that comes from being in traffic will be prominent this weekend. Now that the race for the title is pretty much a three-man battle – with Carl Edwards barely within shouting distance – the majority of playoff contenders are going to be pushing for wins the rest of the year. The top 10 drivers in average finish at Atlanta are loaded with Chasers, which means that the potential for a non-Chase race winner is once again rather limited. There are some diamonds in the rough that aren’t too far back, though, so making the right midpack choices for your fantasy roster can pay off handsomely for gamers this weekend.
Jimmie Johnson started off last week running like he was towing a bass boat behind his car; can he own Lowe’s Motor Speedway like he has in the past? Will the Roush brigade continue to flex their muscle on the intermediate tracks? And can Tony Stewart continue his strong push back towards the top of the standings and make up for losing the race in May that he was leading at the very end? Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to see which drivers should be running for your team and which ones should be sitting at home on their couch in Mooresville.
With so many unknowns at Talladega, where do you turn? Of course, the Chase favorites have to be considered for your team, but which ones? Points leader Jimmie Johnson is peaking earlier in the playoffs than usual; but can he avoid causing the Big One this weekend and get a win? Or will it be second-place Carl Edwards overcoming the dark history of Roush at Talladega and actually running well on a plate track? And of course, there’s the Kyle Busch enigma; will he finally get the black cloud removed from over his head and back up his Talladega win from earlier this year? Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to find out, discovering what drivers should be running for you on Sunday – and which ones you should avoid at all costs.
The Chase heads to the Midwest this weekend for its eighth visit to Kansas Speedway. The teams will once again be trying to make the boxier new car go through the air quickly and still turn once it gets to the corners. As this is our first and only visit to the track this season, gamers will need to look at the previous 1.5-milers to get an idea of how their drivers have handled the cookie-cutter tracks earlier this year. There are some lower echelon drivers that seem to excel on the 1.5-mile tracks – as well as some higher priced competitors who have struggled on this style of facility. Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to see which drivers should be running for your team – and which ones would be better off driving a combine through a wheat field this Sunday.
Over the next couple of months, there’s plenty of time to see how the Chase unfolds with all its drama — manufactured or otherwise. But before the gentlemen fire their engines at Loudon next Sunday, let’s take a quick look at those who didn’t make the Chase, and particularly those who started the seasons with pretensions of making the final field of 12.
With all sorts of different scenarios in play, the decision for gamers is to figure out whether their driver will play it conservative to avoid taking a major hit in points; or, will they go for broke to take the chance of cementing themselves into the Chase? Could this weekend be another chapter in the Carl Edwards vs. Kyle Busch epic? Can Roush Fenway Racing duplicate their dominance from Michigan? Has Denny Hamlin shaken off the bad luck that’s haunted him all year? Can Jimmie Johnson turn around his luck from the last two weeks? All of it’s enough to make your head spin; but Picks ‘N’ Pans can keep you from spinning out as you prep for your own playoff run.
1. Give Backs – After five years on the sideline, the Southern 500 is back! Well, sort of. Track officials have announced that next year’s Mother’s Day weekend race will be renamed the Southern 500 — replacing the Dodge Avenger 500. The track lost the traditional Southern 500 date to the Fontana, Calif. racetrack in 2004. However, since the loss of one of NASCAR’s most prestigious races, the track has improved its infrastructure and fans have rallied, selling out its lone race on the Sprint Cup schedule the last four years. OK, Darlington’s got the crowds back, the Southern 500 back… now, all they need is the Labor Day weekend back! Southern 500 at “The Lady in Black” on Labor Day weekend under the lights would be sweet!
The Irish Hills of Michigan host the 23rd race of the season and the opportunity is there for drivers to start officially stamping their passport into the 2008 championship fight. With roughly the top half of the Chase field solidly locked in, gamers will have to think about the fact that those drivers will more likely take chances to get a win and the 10 bonus points associated with it for the Chase. Will Kyle Busch score back to back wins again this year? Can Tony Stewart finally end the winless streak? Will one of the Roushketeers win at Michigan again? Can Kasey Kahne return to his intermediate form? Only this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans will tell you which ones you should have on your roster — and who should be running at Berlin Raceway.
It doesn’t matter what type of track the Sprint Cup Series is on these days; if Kyle Busch is racing, he’s got a good chance at picking up the win. With his eighth victory of the season coming this week at Watkins Glen, Busch again showed why is the favorite for this year’s Sprint Cup title — but with two finishes outside of the top 10 in his previous two races, he’s not among this week’s HOT contenders. To see who else is among the hottest drivers on the circuit or who needs to step up their game to make the Chase or Top 35, check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.