It’s been two weeks since the pickers for In This Corner made selections (they took last week’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race off) so it’s probably not necessary to provide a recap of what happened in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway.
And everyone who follows NASCAR probably knows how exciting the finish was and that Matt Kenseth outlasted Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott to win his first race of the season.
However, it’s probably safe to assume that not everyone knows that one of the In This Corner pickers correctly selected Kenseth as the winner from two weeks ago.
The celebrity guest picker Reid Spencer had Kenseth among his stable of three drivers. Although he selected the race winner, his other two picks finished in the lower half of the running order. Jimmie Johnson finished a somewhat surprising 25th, while Kyle Busch finished five spots back in 30th. The three drivers combined for 56 total points according to the finishing positions.
It was a valiant effort by Reid’s three drivers; however, like golf, you want to keep your point total as low as possible. With this points total, he would’ve probably won several times.
The prognosticator that did have the lowest combined starting position at Dover was John Farrell. Farrell’s picks included Johnson (didn’t everyone have him tabbed to pick up his 11th win), Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr.
Elliott challenged for the victory in the waning laps before finishing third. Martin Truex Jr, John’s third selection, led 49 laps and ran well for most of the race, but finished a still-strong ninth.
The three drivers combined to give John a total of 37 points, which was good enough for him to pick up his sixth In This Corner win of 2016.
Alex Pohlman came up just a little shy of capturing her third win of the season. As to be expected, she also had Johnson among her three picks. She also had Kevin Harvick, who finished a respectable 15th place, but turned out to be a major factor in who would win this round of In This Corner. Her third pick was Larson who nearly won the race and might have if it had gone a couple laps longer.
Between the three drivers, Alex racked up 42 points.
On a side note, the pickers continue to make solid selections every week. For the Dover race, each prognosticator selected a different driver who finished in the top three.
This week, the drivers get a welcomed treat for the second straight week in that they get to stay home and sleep in their own beds since Sunday’s race is in many of the drivers’ backyards — Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Coca-Cola 600 kicks off at 6 p.m. and can be watched on FOX and listened to on PRN and 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.
Bob Dillner joins us this weekend to lend his expertise as our celebrity guest picker. Bob is a 17-year veteran of motorsports broadcasting who founded “Long Island Trackside,” a weekly racing news magazine show that featured racing at tracks in New York and throughout the Northeast. He began covering the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 1997, as well as other racing leagues. He has been a leading NASCAR reporter on SPEED and FOX Sports and makes occasional appearances on various racing shows. Away from the track, Bob enjoys working with several charities that are near and dear to his heart.
1. Kyle Larson: The kid is simply good and he’s been knocking on the door to Victory Lane for a month now. If the car holds up for him and the pit crew does its job, he’s my number one pick to go to Victory Lane Sunday. Several people have gotten their first wins in the 600 and Larson could be next.
2. Kyle Busch: I believe the time could be now for Kyle Busch to get his first 600 win. It takes a marathon runner to win here and Kyle has the right combination of sprinter and long-distance runner to get the job done.
3. Trevor Bayne: It’s a dark-horse pick for sure, but he ran just well enough in the All-Star race to make me pull the trigger with this selection. This is a tough race physically and not many are in better shape than Trevor. Also, the 600 can be like the Bermuda Triangle, weird things happen, and this pick could be just crazy enough to happen.
2. Kasey Kahne: Kahne has had an up-and-down season so far and a win at Charlotte would not only put him in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but it would quiet the haters.
3. Carl Edwards: This year Carl Edwards has been no stranger to Victory Lane and being the reigning Coca-Cola 600 champion, be sure to watch him run close to the front.
2. Kasey Kahne: Yes, Kasey may be in a little bit of a rough stretch, but he’s usually strong at Charlotte (3rd highest driver rating, 3rd fastest speed early in a run, 2nd most fastest laps, 3rd most green-flag passes, 3rd highest green-flag speed, 3rd most laps led among drivers) and a good race here is just want he needs.
3. Martin Truex Jr.: With all apologies to Alex, I’m going with Martin after he won the pole Thursday night for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 and plus he’s been running well all season and it’s about time he gets rewarded for his efforts.
GUESTS – 4; ALEX – 1; JOHN – 6