Could NASCAR have a more perfect opening weekend? It all began with the No. 3 on the pole for the biggest race of the year, at a track where the No. 3 and it's most famous driver seemed to match perfectly. It ended with two photo finishes, and the famous name in victory lane. It could not have been better scripted.
The sport needed an opening weekend such as what happened a week ago to get the stigma of all the negativity that was going around during the off season. The focus went from being critical of the Chase to praising the first driver to land a spot in the Chase. Not one person was complaining of how things went down, as instead it was nothing but praise and eagerness to get to the next race, and follow up what happened in Daytona.
That eagerness can now come to an end. Haulers have arrived out west and it is another trip out to the Phoenix International Raceway. There's no plates on the engines, and the spoilers have gotten larger.
How can NASCAR follow up such an opening weekend?
One thing is for sure, the writers are hoping for better luck as just two were victorious in the biggest event of the year. But, time to brush off the dust from the desert and reveal who everyone has chosen to win The Profit on CNBC 500:
Misan Akuya: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Hey! Jr is on Twitter! What a week for NASCAR's most popular driver. In his last season with Steve Letarte, Junior is starting the send off in the right fashion. With two wins at Phoenix, granted in the older configuration. Junior is going to ride that momentum high into another win.
Rob Blount: Denny Hamlin
The dude is reinvigorated to start this season off. And he’s really strong at PIR.
James Broomhead: Kevin Harvick
Billy Fellin: Jimmie Johnson
I'm tempted to go with the other 4-time winner at Phoenix (Harvick) but I've never been good at picking drivers back-to-back weeks. So, I'll go with the 48.
Michael Hirshbein: Kyle Busch
Skittles car for the win.
Kara Martin: Jimmie Johnson
Ryan O'Hara: Denny Hamlin
Dustin Parks: Kevin Harvick
His final win with RCR came at this track, and he's the only one to have won at Phoenix in both the current configuration and the old configuration. Way I see it, perfect race to get the first win for his new team. Plus, I've been wanting to try Jimmy John's for a while, so since I'm going for an overnight trip, if I find one I figure I'll give it a shot.
Patti Rodisch: Kevin Harvick
PIR has always been a good track for Harvick. That will continue this weekend as he notches win number one with SHR.
Aaron Rosser: Kevin Harvick
Sal Sigala Jr: Jimmie Johnson
No reason, however Sal is at Phoenix this weekend and will be shooting photos at the race. Have a blast brother.
Rob Tiongson: Kevin Harvick
I have to like Happy Harvick's odds at PIR on race day. He won his last RCR race at this track last November in dramatic fashion and just knows his way around this facility, having swept the races there in 2006.
Standings after Daytona:
Kara Martin (48) Dale Earnhardt Jr. WON - 1
Ryan O'Hara (48) Dale Earnhardt Jr. WON - 1
Rob Blount (42) Brad Keselowski finished 3rd - 0
Rob Tiongson (40) Jeff Gordon finished 4th - 0
Patti Rodisch (38) Matt Kenseth finished 6th - 0
Dustin Parks (36) Austin Dillon finished 9th - 0
Billy Fellin (31) Kevin Harvick finished 13th - 0
Michael Hirshbein (26) Kyle Busch finished 18th - 0
Sal Sigala Jr (26) Kyle Busch finished 18th - 0
Misan Akuya (9) Tony Stewart finished 35th - 0
James Broomhead (9) Tony Stewart finished 35th - 0
Aaron Rosser (9) Tony Stewart finished 35th - 0
Final Thoughts: Ever since the reconfiguration in 2011, there have been four races on this new setup. Of those four races, there have been three different winners at this track, and based on that trend there is a strong chance that a new winner could be added to that list.
Find out on FOX beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
Summary of Picks:
Dale Earnhardt Jr-1