Controversy! Controversy! Controversy!
In This Corner was rocked by controversy this past weekend … and the winner was stripped of the all-important point.
Here’s how it all went down:
Early every week, John Farrell and Alex Pohlman discuss who they’re going to pick for the upcoming race. Sometimes they consider what the celebrity guest picker chose and sometimes the driver is just too tempting to stay away from.
Each celebrity guest picker is asked to submit their picks by the close of business on the Monday prior to the race their picking for. Similarly, John and Alex usually determine who they’re picking on either Monday or Tuesday.
It’s an understanding between the two of them (although never officially written down or spoken — so I guess this article will set the precedent moving forward) cannot change their picks once qualifying has begun. If this happens, their picks for that week can be voided.
Last weekend, John forgot about this little rule and changed one of his picks on Friday to Martin Truex Jr., who had won the pole position the night before and then went on to dominate the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday.
John feels that if Truex had lost or finished out of the top 10 that this probably would have never been an issue. However, since he won the race and helped him win In This Corner for a seventh time this season, it was brought to the forefront and pointed out by Alex, who lodged a formal complaint against John’s pick.
The sad thing about it though is that if John had kept his original pick — Matt Kenseth — he still would have taken home the point for the weekend.
Kenseth finished seventh compared to Truex’s first-place showing. John had also picked Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne, who finished third and 22nd respectively. All three drivers, including Truex, gave John a combined finishing position of 26 — good enough for first place.
If Truex was replaced by Kenseth, John would have 30 points — still good enough for first place.
However, John’s score was voided once he made the post-qualifying swap. This left only Alex and Bob Dillner, last week’s celebrity guest picker, with a shot at winning the weekend.
Alex’s three drivers included Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards, who finished second, 22nd and 18th, respectively. In a contest where you’re trying to get the lowest number, Alex’s 42 combined points beat out the 71 points accrued by Bob’s three drivers (Kyle Larson — 13th, Trevor Bayne — 25, Kyle Busch — 33).
The drivers are headed north to the Pennsylvania and Pocono Raceway where they get their first of two goes at the only triangle on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. The green flag drops on the Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 shortly after 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 5. You can catch the race on television at FS1 or on the radio at MRN or SiriusXM.
If this is your first time reading our “In This Corner” weekly column, we’ll explain how it works. The 2016 season marks the second year our “expert” prognosticators, Alex Pohlman and John Farrell, will choose who they think will win the upcoming race. (They’re only experts in their own heads.)
Every week last season, Alex and John picked one driver they thought would win that weekend’s race. Alex based her picks more on guts, while John based his picks solely on stats. The weekly winner between the two of them was the one who chose the driver who finished better in the race. For every weekly win, they received a point. In the end, Alex beat John 14-10. (It wasn’t a full season as they began with the May Dover race.)
This year, “In This Corner” is similar, but with some new twists thrown in to make it more challenging and entertaining. Joining Alex and John each week will be a different guest prognosticator. In addition, instead of selecting one possible winner, each oracle will pick three drivers they think have the best shot at ending up in Victory Lane.
Whoever selects the three drivers with the lowest accumulated finishing position will receive the point for that weekend. For example, if Alex picks the race winner and the 20th- and 30th-place finishers, but John picks the 10th-, 15th- and 20th-place winners, John would get that week’s point (depending on who the celebrity guest picker selects) because his drivers’ accumulated finishing position total (45) was lower than Alex’s (51).
The celebrity guest forecaster can choose whichever three drivers he or she wants regardless of who Alex or John select. However, Alex and John can only have one pick in common.
We will keep a running tally between Alex, John and the guests every week. At the end of the season, the prognosticator with the most points will be crowned the victor.
You know and love our celebrity guest picker this week and have probably laughed at many of his well-timed and well-played Tweets on Twitter. Yes, our celebrity guest picker this week is none other than @NASCARCASM.
@NASCARCASM is a basement-dwelling troll whose work can be found on NASCAR.com and Reddit discussion threads usually titled, “This guy sucks.” When he’s not polluting the Internet, he enjoys calling Jamie McMurray at 3:30 a.m. and then hanging up when he answers.
1. Martin Truex Jr.: Based on his performance at Charlotte, it’s entirely feasible that as you read this, he’s already got a 10-second lead.
2. Tony Stewart: YEAH, I know this year hasn’t been good by Tony Stewart standards, but what better place to get his first win in his final year than the place where he earned his first points-paying win for Stewart-Haas Racing?
3. Alexander Rossi: These races usually come down to fuel mileage, so it’s a reasonable pick.
2. Denny Hamlin: Since Jeff Gordon has retired, Denny is now the winningest active driver at Pocono. Look for him to add another win to his win column.
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: I mean who doesn’t want Dale Jr. to win a race and make it to the Chase?
1. Jimmie Johnson: Okay no shenanigans this weekend (qualifying hasn’t even started and I’m not even sure if they’ll have them), but it should come as no surprise that my first pick is Jimmie, who is also strong at the Tricky Triangle. My older son will be happy to know I’m picking his favorite driver.
2. Kurt Busch: If I choose my older son’s favorite driver, I should probably also pick my younger son’s favorite driver — Kurt, which I’m okay picking since he’s got great stats at Pocono.
3. Denny Hamlin: Ever since he swept the Pocono races during his rookie campaign in 2006, Denny has been the most consistent and strongest driver at the three-cornered track.
GUESTS – 4; ALEX – 3; JOHN – 6