It now seems as though the controversy that came from Richmond, at least when it comes to the actual racing, has ended.  Sure there's still more fall out as the weeks progress, but once the checkered flag waved at Chicagoland Speedway this past Sunday, the week that was ended.

The focus now is solely on the Chase, and the 13-drivers that are going after a championship.  It's one race at a time, with many hoping to turn their season around.  Meanwhile, others are just hoping for a win to get their team a bit of a boost in confidence.

Maybe they do need a little magic, which seems appropriate as NASCAR arrives at the "Magic Mile" in New Hampshire.

For many years this track was the kickoff to the Chase, and it often led to some surprise winners, and at some points created a little controversy of their own.  At the same time, its seen incredible moments that changed the course of the title picture.

It is unclear what this year's race will produce, but after a week of controversy and more questions than answers, a quiet week is what the sport needed.

The writers are set and hope to get wins this weekend, as their Chase rules are being followed to the letter.  Here's their picks for Sunday's Sylvania 300:


Misan Akuya:  Ryan Newman

Three wins.  Newman is as good as anyone at the Magic Mile.  Could easily see him winning the pole and dominating the race like he did back in 2011.

Rob Blount:  Kurt Busch

He led 102 laps back in July before he was crashed by Matt Kenseth.  I guarantee he’ll be up at the front near the end of 300 laps on Sunday afternoon.

At least, I really hope he is. I need the points after last week.

James Broomhead:  Clint Bowyer

MWR had a night to forget last weekend, and Bowyer at New Hampshire is the best chance they have of taking some positive from the end of the season.

Kelly Crandall:  Clint Bowyer

This is his best racetrack and he needs a breakout win to keep his title hopes alive.​

Billy Fellin:  Kurt Busch

He's going to find victory lane at some point in this Chase and I think it'll be here. Three wins, seven top-five's, 11 top-10's at the Magic Mile.

Michael Hirshbein:  Jimmie Johnson

No reason.

Christopher Leone:  NO PICK

No pick submitted by posting deadline.

Kara Martin:  Kasey Kahne

No reason.

Ryan O'Hara:  Jeff Gordon

No reason.

Dustin Parks:  Ryan Newman

This week was a hard one to pick for since there are so many good ones to choose from.  I nearly went with Bowyer, but I feel the Richmond fall out is still occurring, so avoided MWR for that reason.  Nearly went with Kurt also, actually had him at the beginning of the week, but decided to change course.

Stewart-Haas Racing over the last couple years has just been spectacular at flat tracks.  Newman won here last year, and finished 2nd, with Stewart doing the same thing in reverse the same season.  He's won here and at Martinsville, and I think the Rocket Man can get the job done as his season with SHR comes to a close.

Patti Rodisch:  Joey Logano

No reason.

Sal Sigala Jr:  Brad Keselowski

Its hard to think Brad could go a whole season without a win, and this could be his best chance at getting one this season.

Rob Tiongson:  Jeff Gordon

Momentum has been on Team 24's side as of late and since their awful two race slump in August, they've at least been in the top-10 finishing order in the past four races (7th at Bristol, 6th at Atlanta, 8th at Richmond, and 6th at Chicagoland).

Might bust out with a top-five or even a win, and I'm just looking for consistency here. Playing it safe with a driver who's won on three different occasions at The Magic Mile - and I'll be the first to know it, as I'll be there!


Chase Standings following Chicagoland:

Rob Tiongson (2048) Kevin Harvick finished 3rd (2)

Sal Sigala Jr. (2045) Kevin Harvick finished 3rd (1)

Kelly Crandall (2045) Kevin Harvick finished 3rd (1)

Michael Hirshbein (2044) Clint Bowyer finished 9th (3)

Misan Akuya (2042) Kevin Harvick finished 3rd (1)

Kara Martin (2042) Jeff Gordon finished 6th (1)

Dustin Parks (2040) Kurt Busch finished 4th (0)

James Broomhead (2038) Brad Keselowski finished 7th (2)

Patti Rodisch (2038) Brad Keselowski finished 7th (0)

Rob Blount (2035) Kasey Kahne finished 12th (1)

Ryan O'Hara (2032) Kasey Kahne finished 12th (0)

Billy Fellin (2029) Martin Truex Jr. finished 18th (1)

Christopher Leone (2000) NO PICK SENT (0)


Final Thoughts:  Based on the variety of picks, it is clear that many drivers are strong at this track, meaning that there's many points of view as to who could win.

It could mean that a few writers are victorious, but there's also the chance that they come up empty as a new face could take the checkered flag.  Who is going to hoist the trophy on Sunday?

Find out at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.


Summary of Picks:

Clint Bowyer-2

​Kurt Busch-2

Jeff Gordon-2

Ryan Newman-2

Jimmie Johnson-1

Kasey Kahne-1

Brad Keselowski-1

Joey Logano-1