Fan Vs. Fan Victory Pool: Picks for the Capital City 400
An old cliche in life is "nothing is perfect." When it comes to NASCAR, that cliche can truly be put to the test when it comes to the track on Saturday night.
It's the first true Saturday night, short-track shootout, as all the action takes place at Richmond International Raceway. The track has been nicknamed "Racing Perfection," and that is a true statement. It's not the shortest track on the circuit, but it's still under a mile in length. It's shaped like Michigan and California, meaning multiple grooves. The speeds are the same as at Bristol, but the corners are tight like Martinsville.
This track takes a lot of muscle to get around for 400 laps, but it also brings out many emotions, and aggression.
It may take away from some of the local tracks, but it's a must-see track for fans. There's not a bad seat anywhere, and it's a favorite among drivers as well. It brings out the raw character when something goes wrong on the track, and then pay back the incident on pit road. Who could ever forget 2003 when it was Kevin Harvick vs. Ricky Rudd, or at least his car.
Then there's the infamous confrontation between Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon in 1998. It simply brings back what racing on Saturday nights is all about...emotion.
Hopefully the writers don't get emotional should the driver they chose get into a scuffle, cause it could hurt them in more ways than one. Let's take a look at the choices everyone made for the Capital City 400:
Misan Akuya: Jeff Gordon
Gordon has just had a dismal season. Stuck in 18th in points and a full race out of 10th. He needs to win to make the Chase and with his recent performances at RIR, he could very well pick up a much needed victory.
James Broomhead: Kyle Busch
Kelly Crandall: Denny Hamlin
Hamlin's coming off his second win of the year in Kansas and heading to his home track, where he can dominate and lead flag to flag if the competition isn't careful.
While teammate Kyle Busch has won the last three Spring races, Hamlin is the hottest and most successful JGR so far this season and Richmond can only add to that.
Billy Fellin: Denny Hamlin
There are a few drivers I considered at Richmond; Kyle Busch is always strong, Dale Earnhardt Jr. runs really well at Richmond and I even considered Kasey Kahne. But, I'm going with Denny.
He loves racing at Richmond, lived in Chesterfield for awhile so its his home track. Not to mention he is just on a roll right now.
Michael Hirshbein: Kyle Busch
Christopher Leone: Clint Bowyer
Bowyer's won at Richmond before, and with an average finish of 10.5, has the third best mark of all active drivers at Richmond. Michael Waltrip's really confident in this generation of cars over at MWR, and we saw what they could do last week at Kansas with Martin Truex Jr. running up front.
I can see Bowyer finally breaking through with his new team this weekend.
Kara Martin: Kyle Busch
It's time to show 2012 what he's got!
Ryan O'Hara: Denny Hamlin
Time for some home cooking.
Dustin Parks: Kyle Busch
Let's get a little bit Rowdy. The spring race has always been his cup of tea, and he's the defending race winner. Sure, Hamlin has the momentum at the current moment, but I'm feeling like the right pick this week is the 18.
He needs to do something, cause the dismal start to the season must have him rattled, but Richmond is one of his best tracks. Let's get rowdy on Saturday night.
Patti Rodisch: Jeff Gordon
Gordon has run well on the short tracks the last couple seasons. Although he has no wins to show for it this teams strength is the short tracks. It was a year ago this weekend that Gordon had the best car but got wrecked on a restart and crashed hard into the inside wall where there was no safer barrier.
The hard hit spurred RIR to add safer barriers but that did nothing to change the results. Gordon and his team have been hit and miss this season. A win this weekend could further help their bid for the wildcard in 2012. While Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are great picks this weekend Gordon and his team have little to loose after one of the slowest starts to the season in his career.
Gordon has two wins, 15 top-fives and 24 top-10 finishes at RIR. He will be threat for the win come Saturday night.
Sal Sigala Jr: Kyle Busch
SIDE NOTE: Sal is missing the action this weekend at both Richmond and a late model race in Pomona, California, as his brother-in-law was sent to the ICU in the middle of the week and he has put all his racing on hold, except for his pick, until he gets better. We all wish his brother-in-law a speedy recovery.
Rob Tiongson: Kyle Busch
It's been a Joe Gibbs kind of track for the past five years so I don't see this changing anytime soon. It just seems like it's time to get Rowdy at Richmond too, don't you think?
Results following Kansas:
Misan Akuya (297) Matt Kenseth finished 4th (1)
Billy Fellin (284) Jeff Gordon finished 21st (2)
James Broomhead (283) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Rob Tiongson (276) Jeff Gordon finished 21st (1)
Christopher Leone (275) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Sal Sigala Jr. (273) Jeff Gordon finished 21st (0)
Kara Martin (268) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Kelly Crandall (254) Tony Stewart finished 13th (1)
Patti Rodisch (246) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Dustin Parks (225) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Ryan O'Hara (222) Jeff Gordon finished 21st (0)
Michael Hirshbein (216) Kyle Busch finished 10th (0)
Final Thoughts: This is the last week for the writers, and drivers, to be in control of their own destiny, because next Sunday every aspect of the race is out of their control. If there's ever an opportunity to take out some vengence, Richmond may be the place to do it.
Strap in as "Racing Perfection" will live up to its billing on Saturday night. Coverage on FOX begins at 7 p.m. ET.
Summary of Picks: