In This Corner: Talladega Superspeedway

Going into the third and final week of the Contender Round Joey Logano is the only driver locked into the three-week Eliminator Round by virtue of wins.

For the second week in row, Logano bested the entire field of walked away with the trophy and the knowledge that his mere winning could possibly keep a driver teetering on the edge of the bubble from moving on.

And he’s probably okay with that. He just wants to win.

With the NASCAR world turning their attention to Talladega this weekend, Logano should be glad he already has his ticket punched for the next round, because there is no telling what could happen at ‘Dega.

And that’s why many call this Sunday’s race the wild card of the Chase.

In order to win the CampingWorld.com 500, it’s gonna take a lot of skill, patience and luck. There’s no telling who is going to take the checkered flag … and it could possibly be a first-time winner.

Regardless of who wins the race, it’s bound to be a good watch with a lot of exciting action. It’s definitely a race where anything can happen and the winner won’t be determined until the final seconds.

Last week, Alex Pohlman extended her lead by three points over John Farrell. But Farrell is determined to begin a late-season march to the championship starting this weekend.

Join them and the rest of NASCAR nation for the wildest race in the Chase on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. EDT on NBC Sports Network.

If you want to see who Farrell and Pohlman picked the championship at the end of the season, click here.

Below is a quick reminder of who the two competitors are.

Alex, the daughter of the late Richmond Gage, was born into and grew up around the sport. Her dad, who worked with several legendary drivers from the 1980s and 1990s, often took Alex with him to the race track on weekends where she fell in love with the sport.

John wasn’t introduced to NASCAR until later in life when he started working for NASCAR in 2007. In seven years with NASCAR, he worked in the Publishing, Licensing and IMC departments. He quickly fell in love with the statistics side of the sport, as well as its colorful past, and even wrote a NASCAR-licensed book in 2012, The Official NASCAR Trivia Book. He is now the Marketing Manager for Lionel Racing.

Every week, Alex (using her gut instinct) and John (relying solely on stats) each select a driver they think will win. Of those two drivers, the one that wins or places higher will give whoever picked him/her a point. We will keep a running tally and will crown a champion at the end of the season.

Since John is a polite, Southern gentleman, he has agreed to let Alex pick every weekend. (What a sucker!)

 

ALEX’S PICK

Gage-AnimatedMy pick for Talladega this week is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Since Dale Jr. has been dominant at all the plate tracks this year, I believe he will be able to keep his nose clean through the race and complete a Talladega sweep.  In addition to winning the spring race this season, he has five other wins at the 2.66-mile track, including four consecutive wins from 2001 to 2003. Plus, he knows that he probably needs to win to make the next round. Let’s hope that Dale Jr can hold off the competition and win at Talladega and we’ll see you next weekend as NASCAR rolls into Martinsville Speedway!

 

JOHN’S PICK

Farrell-AnimatedI’ll be honest … at first glance I wanted to choose Brad Keselowski. And why shouldn’t I? He has three wins at Talladega and Team Penske has been on a roll the past two weeks. However, stats were pointing me toward Matt Kenseth. He has the second-best driver rating at the track with 89.2. Keselowski’s is eighth at 83.2. But after really diving into the stats, no driver, outside of Dale Jr., stands out when reviewing the stats from past races at Talladega, and I couldn’t really make a case for Kenseth or Keselowski for that matter. For every Loop Data category, there are five different drivers at the top, which tells you how incredibly unpredictable this race is. So, after thinking more about it … I’m changing my mind and going with my original pick, Keselowski. I may regret it, but I need to win this weekend and I feel he gives me my best chance. And if I were asked to defend my choice, I can come up with enough stats to support my pick … or any pick for that matter.

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