In This Corner: New Hampshire 301 (w/ Celebrity Guest Picker Alan Hinson)

For the second time in as many weeks all three pickers had at least one pick that didn’t pan out so well.

Celebrity guest picker Kyle Petty, John Farrell and Alex Pohlman each had one driver finish in the 30s, driving up each picker’s overall score.

On a good note, however, each picker had one driver in the top 10. And in Alex’s case, one of her choices — Brad Keselowski — won the Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway.

The third driver for all three pickers — the driver that didn’t finish in the 30s or the top 10 — was the same guy, Kyle Busch. In a race where he was apparently a huge favorite, Busch didn’t lead any laps and finished 12th.

Keselowski led three times for 75 laps, including the final six trips around the 1.5-mile speedway. At the finish line, he bested runner-up Carl Edwards by 0.175 seconds.

In the In This Corner contest, Alex used the Keselowski win to soar to her fifth weekly win. She now trails the celebrity guest pickers by one point and John by two points.

In addition to Keselowski and Busch, she also had Chase Elliott among her stable of three drivers for the Kentucky race. Elliott posted an uncharacteristic 31st-place finish, giving Alex a combined finishing position of 44.

The 44 points was better than the 52 and 56 John and Kyle’s drivers put up, respectively.

John’s three drivers included Matt Kenseth (eighth), Busch (12th) and Jimmie Johnson (32nd) for a total 52 points. Kyle finished four points further back with Tony Stewart (fifth), Busch (12th) and Joey Logano (39) for a combined finishing position of 56.

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 one of Lionel Racing’s very own — Alan Hinson. Alan basically grew up watching NASCAR and has been around it for most of his life. As a kid, he worked at Charlotte Motor Speedway during race events and worked after school and during summers for several race teams, including Darrell Waltrip and Fast Track Racing School.

After college, Alan work on the souvenir side of Sports Image, which has changed names several times: Action Performance, Motorsports Authentics and now Lionel Racing. As a member of the production team, he has worked with various major teams on numerous programs. He has even proposed some special programs and paint schemes that have made it to on-track paint schemes. He enjoys the historical side of the sport and finding interesting tidbits or stats that most fans may not be aware of.

ALAN’S PICKS

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1. Kyle Busch: Kyle seems poised for another win at New Hampshire. He is the defending champion of this event and has four top-two finishes in the last six starts at New Hampshire. I think this makes Kyle a top contender to get back to Victory Lane and grab another lobster.

2. Brad Keselowski: Let’s face it, Brad is on a hot streak and he can continue it at New Hampshire. Although he only has one win at Loudon, he is always a contender and has a history of top-10 finishes in the past few years.

3. Chase Elliott: Although Chase is making his first start at New Hampshire, he has been in contention as of late for his first win. In his rookie season, there is a lot of anticipation on when he gets his first career win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This hot shoe is due for a win soon. It also will mark his 24th career start, if you are into numbers.

ALEX’S PICKS

InThisCorner-Alex1. Joey Logano: You can’t go to New Hampshire and not pick Joey, especially since he has finished great there the past couple of races.

2. Martin Truex Jr.: This year is the year you can’t count Martin Truex Jr. out. He seems to be up front every weekend and already has a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

3. Kyle Larson: Kyle is knocking on the door of his first win and after running up front the past couple of races, don’t count out an appearance by this young driver Sunday afternoon.

JOHN’S PICKS

InThisCorner-John1. Denny Hamlin: Denny has the best average finish (10.25) of all drivers with at least five starts in Loudon.

2. Jimmie Johnson: Like most of the other tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, Jimmie Johnson has multiple wins at New Hampshire.

3. Tony Stewart: After his win at Sonoma, I have a renewed sense of faith in Tony and I’ll go ahead and say it now, he’ll also be one of my three picks next week at Indy.

GUESTS — 6; ALEX — 5; JOHN — 7

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