The "Lady in Black" awaits, and the writers have chose who will tame Darlington.
NASCAR has seen the improbable, the overturned, and the expected results this week. It all started on Sunday with David Ragan shocking the field in his Talladega victory, then Penske Racing got back many of their penalties from the Texas fiasco.
Joe Gibbs got points back, and his owner's license, while Matt Kenseth got back points and credit for his victory at Kansas.
What more can happen this week?
Now, NASCAR again is stepping into historic and hallowed ground, going back in time to one of the original tracks on the circuit. A place where it's unique shape gave a famous nickname, a track where they first ran on the apron before realizing the banking was the fast way around. It was built on a piece of land where the owner had one request...don't disturb the pond.
Call it the "Lady in Black" or call it "Too Tough To Tame," but it is a piece of history. NASCAR makes it's only stop in South Carolina for the season, but does so at the historic Darlington Raceway.
The writers certainly had their work cut out this week, but true to their word, everyone made their choices for victory. It's time to see who they elected to win the Bojangles' Southern 500:
Misan Akuya: Denny Hamlin
Welcome back Denny! Hamlin is in a big hole (31st in points, 18 points behind his closest competitor). If Hamlin even wants to dream about making the chase it needs to start now. Hamlin won this race back in 2010 and has always been strong at Darlington.
Would be a nice first full race back.
Rob Blount: Kyle Busch
He's had two bad weeks in a row. He's due for a good week again and he's strong at the Lady In Black.
James Broomhead: Kyle Busch
OK, so I must admit I’m a little lost for inspiration in picking for Darlington so I’m going for a simple one.
Kelly Crandall: Jimmie Johnson
Billy Fellin: Jimmie Johnson
Got Hendrick's 200th there last year and has been solid this season.
Michael Hirshbein: Kyle Busch
Christopher Leone: Jeff Gordon
Kara Martin: Brad Keselowski
No reason, but will be watching from Las Vegas!
Ryan O'Hara: Jeff Gordon
Dustin Parks: Jeff Gordon
I absolutely make no bones about it, this place is my favorite track on the circuit. There is no other track on the tour where there is only one prefered line, and that line is right next to the wall. I don't know what the over-under is on Darlington Stripes, but I can guarantee those red and white walls will be black by night's end.
As for my pick, this is the first race at Darlington in the new Gen-6 car. When the Gen-5 car debuted for the first time at Darlington back in 2007, the guy celebrating in victory lane was the one at the wheel of the DuPont Chevy.
The sponsor name might have changed, but the colors remain true. I'm sticking with the fired-up colors of Gordon and the No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevy SS.
Patti Rodisch: Jimmie Johnson
Sal Sigala Jr: Jimmie Johnson
Rob Tiongson: Jeff Gordon
Gotta go with four time here. As I've said on The Podium Finish, just imagine how the 24 team will fare if they have a mistake free day.
Just watch out for the wall and hopefully avoid those weird flat tire deals like last year and JG will be in the winner's circle soon!
Standings following Talladega:
Patti Rodisch (384) Jeff Gordon finished 11th (0)
Rob Tiongson (355) Jimmie Johnson finished 5th (1)
Billy Fellin (348) Matt Kenseth finished 8th (1)
Rob Blount (328) Clint Bowyer finished 18th (1)
Sal Sigala Jr. (315) Jimmie Johnson finished 5th (0)
Kara Martin (307) Brad Keselowski finished 15th (0)
Dustin Parks (306) Danica Patrick finished 33rd (0)
James Broomhead (303) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 17th (1)
Ryan O'Hara (303) Kurt Busch finished 30th (0)
Kelly Crandall (297) Matt Kenseth finished 8th (0)
Michael Hirshbein (285) Kyle Busch finished 37th (2)
Christopher Leone (251) Denny Hamlin finished 34th (0)
Misan Akuya (250) Jamie McMurray finished 23rd (0)
Final Thoughts: Obviously, history plays a big part in deciding a winner for this race. This race in itself is a part of NASCAR's history. Names like Petty, Pearson, Waltrip, Elliott and Earnhardt all have won this race. Modern-era drivers like Johnson, Busch, and even some unexpected ones like Burton and Smith.
Winning here is a feather in the cap of every driver and team, and those that don't have it yet want a win at Darlington more and more with each moment.
Beginning at 6 p.m. ET on FOX, yet another name will be added to those history books.
Summary of Picks: