As part of the blog’s massive overhaul, we’ve also decided to spice up and revamp Alex Gage’s “Picks of the Week.” Instead of her providing weekly picks, we’ve decided to turn it into a competition. You could call it a match pitting “guts” (Alex) against “stats” (John Farrell).

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, on the other hand, wasn’t fully 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 Integrated Marketing Communications 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.

Therefore, starting with this weekend’s race at Dover, Alex and John will each select one 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 over the course of the season to let everyone know where they stand at any time.

Alex will be using her “gut” instincts to choose her driver, while John will analyze Loop Data and all kinds of stats in order to make his pick. Alex and John are not allowed to select the same driver. Since John is a polite, Southern gentleman, he has agreed to let Alex pick first this weekend and for the rest of the season.

Make sure to tune into FOX Sports 1 this Sunday at 12 p.m. EST to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers try to tame the “Monster Mile.”

(Note: No one was harmed during the photo shoot, except for perhaps John’s dignity.)


ALEX’S PICK

After an exciting two weeks in NASCAR country with Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards taking home the top prizes, we move on to the “Monster Mile” in Dover. The mile track is not only tough on the drivers, but their cars as well. My pick this week is someone very familiar with Victory Lane in Dover – and that driver is none other than Jimmie Johnson. I feel Johnson will be a strong presence this week due to winning at Dover four times in the last four years as well as wanting to step up from a disappointing finish at Charlotte last weekend.


 

JOHN’S PICK

I’m starting to regret letting Alex have the first choice this week, because Jimmie Johnson dominates almost every statistical category there is at Dover. But, I’m confident I’ve picked a driver who can – and will – usurp the No. 48 driver at the Monster Mile … Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota, continuing the recent streak of JGR drivers finding Victory Lane. In addition to two wins and 21 top-10 finishes at the one-mile track, Kenseth is second in several loop data categories: average driver rating, running position, green-flag speed, laps in top 15, speed in traffic, fastest early in a run and fastest late in a run.