Amp Energy 500 Picks
After racing last week on the slow half-mile track at Martinsville, NASCAR changes gears this week for the Amp Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
This will be the highest speeds we will see all year, as Talladega is known for its steep banking and drafting, not to mention it usually offers dramatic final laps.
Talladega is the Chase race that the title contenders fear the most, since the unpredictable can happen anytime there, including the "big one” - a major pileup involving numerous drivers that could wipe out Jimmie Johnson's slim lead over Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.
The key this week forJohnson is staying out of trouble and avoiding the "big one." Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are both very good plate racers while Johnson isn't as good, as his stats show. Look for him to do his best and stay out of harms way till the end and settle for a good finish rather than fight for the win.
Kurt Busch 15/1
We have always been impressed with the way Kurt Busch has done on plate tracks, although he also might be the unluckiest driver when it comes to plate racing since he has yet to win one. In his last 10 races here, Busch has only been outside of the top 10 three times, which is an amazing feat considering how fast you can lose positions if you lose the draft. You will almost find Busch up front in plate races, which help keep him out of trouble and have led to his success here and at Daytona. With the way this team has struggled during the Chase, we think this could be the race that Busch finally breaks through with his first plate win.
Live Long Shot
Juan Pablo Montoya 20/1
Juan Pablo Montoya has had the type of year that he would like to forget, while his teammate has had a very good year. Most of his problems have not been because of bad cars - it's been mostly bad luck and getting caught up in crashes that he did not cause. While not known for being a great place racer, he has shown that he is getting better, especially the last few races here and at Daytona. We think Montoya could surprise this week and win this race.