"Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone.  Everything that I've got is just what I've got on.  When that sun is high in the Texas sky, I'll be buckin' at the county fair.  Amarillo by morning...Amarillo I'll be there."

It just seems when NASCAR makes a trip to the deep south that country music comes to mind.

In an area that is surrounded by farms, open ranges, and known for being a hot spot for hunters, it perfectly fits.  Add in the fact that this state has some very rowdy, and extremely passionate, NASCAR fans, and it is the perfect place to host a race, especially one that is the first event under the lights for the season.

Everything is bigger in Texas, and NASCAR this week is bigger than ever as they hit the track at the Texas Motor Speedway.

This means all 13 writers have to cowboy up, or in some cases cowgirl up, and wrangle up a choice for victory.  This baker's dozen have made the deadline, and are set for their quest to victory.

Here are this week's picks for the NRA 500:


Misan Akuya:  Brad Keselowski

​Minus Auto Club, Keselowski has picked up from where he left off.  After winning the championship.  With the way he has run, I figure a win is just around the corner for Bad Brad.

He finished second to Jimmie Johnson here in the fall as well.

Rob Blount:  Matt Kenseth

He won the last time we raced on a 1.5-miler in Las Vegas.  He's been strong just about every week.  Hard to bet against him.

James Broomhead:  Matt Kenseth

No reason.

Kelly Crandall:  Kasey Kahne

No reason.

Billy Fellin:  Greg Biffle

​The Biff has won two Texas races and has quietly been having a solid season.  I'll take the 16.

Michael Hirshbein:  Kyle Busch

No reason.

Christopher Leone:  Clint Bowyer

No reason.

Kara Martin:  Kasey Kahne

No reason.

Ryan O'Hara:  Matt Kenseth

​Once again, this new Gen-6 benefits the favorites under the Gen-4.  Kenseth won here in '02, runner up in both races in '07, and won this race back in 2011 with the Gen-5.

So, I would not be surprised if you see the 20 in victory lane Saturday night.

Dustin Parks:  Kasey Kahne

This actually was a hard week to pick because there was like two or three drivers I could go with.  On the pool that Rob Blount does I went with Kenseth because of him winning at Vegas, but I can't change that pick now.  But last night I just kept thinking that Kahne has been just as strong each week.

So, at least in the pool I do, I'm gonna go with the 5.  Can't hurt.

Patti Rodisch:  Jimmie Johnson

No reason.

Sal Sigala Jr:  Brad Keselowski

No reason.

Rob Tiongson:  Kasey Kahne

Gotta think the recent birthday boy is due a win at the Lone Star State.


Standings following Martinsville:

Patti Rodisch (238) Jeff Gordon finished 3rd (0)

Rob Tiongson (230) Jeff Gordon finished 3rd (1)

Billy Fellin (211) Jimmie Johnson WON (1)

Rob Blount (207) Jimmie Johnson WON (1)

Michael Hirshbein (203) Kyle Busch finished 5th (1)

Sal Sigala Jr(202) Brad Keselowski finished sixth (0)

Dustin Parks (189) Jeff Gordon finished 3rd (0)

James Broomhead (187) Clint Bowyer finished 2nd (0)

Ryan O'Hara (185) Jeff Gordon finished 3rd (0)

Kara Martin (181) Jeff Gordon finished 3rd (0)

Kelly Crandall (180) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 24th (0)

Christopher Leone (172) Mark Martin finished 10th (0)

Misan Akuya (161) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 24th (0)


Final Thoughts:  By how the picks are all over the board, there is still a lot of guessing when it comes to this new car, and which teams seem to have it figured out.  But, just like the first six races, the cream always seems to rise to the top.

It will be an old-fashioned shootout for sure when the green flag waves on Saturday night.  Coverage on FOX kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.


Summary of Picks:

Kasey Kahne-4

Matt Kenseth-3

Brad Keselowski-2

Greg Biffle-1

Clint Bowyer-1

Kyle Busch-1

Jimmie Johnson-1