By the time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars hit the track at Bristol Motor Speedway at 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 20 (on NBCSN), it will be 13 days since they last raced.
When the drivers were last on track, we saw Denny Hamlin take the lead from Brad Keselowski with 10 laps to go and hold on to win.
Since everyone has had almost two weeks to digest what happened in the Watkins Glen race, we’ll just focus on how our three In This Corner pickers fared.
For the seventh time this season, the celebrity guest picker took home the point to pull within three of John Farrell. Alex is third with five points.
Grabbing the point for the celebrities at Watkins Glen was none other than Miss Sprint Cup Madison Martin. All three of her picks finished in the top 10, with none of them finishing lower than seventh.
Although Madison didn’t have race winner Hamlin, she did have the driver who finished second just 2.065 seconds off the lead — Joey Logano. Logano led the field for eight laps.
Also in Madison’s stable of drivers were A.J. Allmendinger and Martin Truex Jr. Allmendinger, who is known as a road-course ringer, started ninth, but a pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 26 knocked as far back as 36th. He battled back to finish fourth. Truex ran in the top 10 for most of the day and led one lap before ending up seventh.
In all, Madison’s team netted her a combined total of 13 points — 12 points better than John, who came in second.
Two of John’s choices (Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch) finished in fifth and sixth place. Stewart, who has been racing like his old self over the past couple of weeks, finished fifth, while Busch hung around the top 10 the entire race, even leading four laps, and came home sixth.
John’s third and final driver, Jeff Gordon, finished 14th. Gordon encountered a little bit of early trouble in the race where he and his team were hit with four infractions on Laps 13 and 14. The violations included pitting before pit road was open, too many crew members in contact with pit service area (twice) and speeding upon entering the pits.
In all, John had 25 points.
The combined finishing position for Alex totaled 48 points. Allmendinger (fourth) was her highest-finishing driver. Carl Edwards (15th) and Kyle Larson (29th) were her other two drivers. Edwards led the event’s first 25 laps, but was caught up in a four-car incident in Turn 5 on Lap 58. He never fully recovered from the accident in terms of track position. At the end of the race, Larson was the first driver one lap down.
If this is your first time reading “In This Corner,” 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 they think will win the upcoming race. (They’re experts only in their heads.)
Each week last season, Alex and John picked one driver they thought would win that weekend’s race. Alex based her picks on guts, while John made his picks relying on stats. It was an epic showdown of guts vs. stats. The weekly winner was determined by who chose the driver who finished better in the race.
Fore every weekly win, they received a point. In the end, Alex beat John 14-10. (The competition began with the May Dover race.)
This year, In This Corner is similar, but with some new twists added 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 driver, each oracle will pick the three they think have the best shot at ending up in Victory Lane.
Whoever selects the three drivers with the lowest combined 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 receive the point (depending on who the celebrity guest picker selects) because his drivers’ accumulated finishing position total (45) is lower that 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 all three. At the end of the season, the prognosticator with the most points will be crowned the victor.
This week’s Celebrity Guest Picker is NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett. Jarrett was born on October 12, 1932, in Newton, N.C., where he was raised on a farm and worked in the fields and at his dad’s sawmill.
His calm demeanor and Southern, well-mannered approach earned him the name “Gentleman Ned;” however, he was an intense competitor when behind the steering wheel. In seven full seasons in NASCAR’s premier series, Jarrett netted 50 wins, 239 top 10s, 35 poles and the 1961 and 1965 titles. Forty-three of his 50 wins came in Fords, making him NASCAR’s all-time leader in the Ford brand. Prior to his career in the top series, he won NASCAR’s National Sportsman (now XFINITY) series championships in 1957 and 1958.
After he retired from driving, Jarrett became the first driver to head to the broadcasting booth, working for Universal Racing Network, MRN Radio, CBS Sports and ESPN during his career.
In 2011, he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
1. Carl Edwards: He’s smart and fast.
2. Kyle Busch: Aggressively smooth.
3. Joey Logano: He runs a Ford and Fords have a great tradition at Bristol. He’s an excellent driver.
1. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer is great at Bristol and a win would guarantee a Chase berth.
2. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson is looking to go for his seventh championship and another win would put him in a great starting position for the Chase.
3. Chase Elliott: Chase is leading the 2016 rookie class and looking for his first win, so this weekend could be the opportunity to make history!
1. Matt Kenseth: After struggling to start the 2016 season, Matt has definitely turned the corner as is now a threat to win every week, especially at Bristol where he already has four victories.
2. Jeff Gordon: This could be Jeff’s final race of his career since we should find out next week if Dale Earnhardt Jr. will return next weekend; however, there’s no better place for Jeff’s curtain call than at a track where he has five wins and is the all-time leader in lead-lap finishes with 46.
3. Kevin Harvick: Although Kevin has won once this season, he leads the field with 17 top-10 finishes through the first 22 finishes, and in our competition it’s good finishes, not necessarily wins, that gets you the weekly point.
GUESTS — 7; ALEX — 5; JOHN — 10