What do college and high school football have in common?  It's a tradition called homecoming.  Celebrating the people that are popular and have done the most good for a school or university.

NASCAR doesn't necessarily have a "homecoming" tradition, but this week's race could be considered that because a majority of the teams are based out of the area surrounding the race track.  There's no need to stay in a motorhome, as the drivers are close to their own houses, and can sleep in their own beds.

Deep in NASCAR country, the Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the favorite stops among many drivers and teams, and fans love to be able to visit the race shops that put together the amazing machines seen on the track.

This weekend, the Chase hits the halfway point, and will do so under the lights.

With NASCAR's most popular driver sidelined due to health concerns, this race takes on an entirely new look, but the writers know that.  A few have already used one Dale Earnhardt Jr. as their pick, so it means someone else will be their choice for victory.

But who?  Take a look at who the writers eventually chose for a win in the Bank of America 500:

 

Misan Akuya:  Kasey Kahne

I started off the vhase solid with a sixth, 13th and a fourth.  I was petty close points wise to the lead.  It looked like Jamie McMurray was going to get me a win.  But Talladega swallowed him up with a few laps left.

Kahne has four wins here including one this year.  So this really is a no brainer.

James Broomhead:  Kasey Kahne

No reason.

Kelly Crandall:  Kasey Kahne

No reason.

Billy Fellin:  Kasey Kahne

If anyone is flying under the radar in the Chase, it's Kahne. Fourth in points within striking distance as he comes to one of his best tracks. He has four wins at Charlotte including the 600 this past May.

Michael Hirshbein:  Denny Hamlin

No reason.

Christopher Leone:  Jeff Gordon

Eh, why not, even though the law of averages suggests he's bound to have another awful finish real soon.

Kara Martin:  Jeff Gordon

No reason.

Ryan O'Hara:  Kyle Busch

Bring it home and don't be an idiot. I need to win.

Dustin Parks:  Kasey Kahne

I was so close to choosing Johnson for this week, but recently his luck at this track has been not great, minus his All-Star win this year.  So, wanting to at least stay consistent, I stuck with the Hendrick group and went with the No. 5.

With Junior sidelined for a few weeks, everyone at Hendrick wants to perform well because they know how great he ran all season, and he was on track to have a very strong finish to the year.  Now, he'll finish 12th in the standings and will have to wait another year to make the title run.

With four wins here, including this past spring, Kahne is the most likely to make the Hendrick group proud, especially for his teammate.

Patti Rodisch:  Greg Biffle

I am really hoping he makes me look like a genius Saturday night. Biffle broke the track record and this is the style of track he has excelled at this season.

It has been a rough start to the Chase for Biffle who many expected to challenge for the title. His first top 10 came last week at Dega as hewas one of the few able to avoid the 25 care wreck. Biffle has been strong on 1.5 tracks and Saturday night Biffle will finally prove me right this Chase.

Sal Sigala Jr:  Denny Hamlin

No reason.

Rob Tiongson:  Denny Hamlin

Gotta go with the driver who feels like the Cup is his this year - something tells me he didn't particularly enjoy running in the back of the field just to get a decent finish at Talladega, so he will have a bad fast car. Watch out, peeps, gonna repeat what I did in 2010!

 

Standings following Talladega:

Rob Tiongson (2162) Kevin Harvick finished 11th (4)

Sal Sigala Jr. (2161) Kasey Kahne finished 12th (3)

Ryan O'Hara (2155) Jeff Burton finished 10th (2)

James Broomhead (2154) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 20th (3)

Dustin Parks (2154) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 20th (2)

Kelly Crandall (2149) Clint Bowyer finished 23rd (4)

Kara Martin (2134) Kyle Busch finished 3rd (3)

Billy Fellin (2132) Clint Bowyer finished 23rd (5)

Misan Akuya (2126) Jamie McMurray finished 34th (1)

Patti Rodisch (2124) Jeff Burton finished 10th (2)

Christopher Leone (2123) Kurt Busch finished 39th (3)

Michael Hirshbein (2105) Kurt Busch finished 39th (1)

 

Final Thoughts:  According to the picks, the writers want HMS to go to victory lane in honor of their sidelined driver.  It will not be surprising if one of them makes that a reality.

But, there's plenty of others that could spoil that party.

Tune into ESPN on Saturday night beginning at 7 p.m. ET to find out who will be victorious in the final Saturday night shootout of 2012.

 

Summary of Picks:

Kasey Kahne-5

Denny Hamlin-3

Jeff Gordon-2

Greg Biffle-1

Kyle Busch-1