Jimmie Johnson has a 149 point lead with only 4 races left in the Chase and it is going to take some major malfunctions for him not to repeat for the 3rd straight year. This week the series heads to Atlanta where Johnson has been awesome over the past 5 years. Over the past 10 Atlanta races Jimmie has won 3 times, finished 2nd twice, has 8 top 6 finishes and his worst finishing position has been 16th.
Needless to say he is the guy to beat this weekend. This team has the “magic” back that they were talking about during the race at Martinsville. Even if Jimmie doesn’t go to victory lane this weekend he should have another top 5 finish unless something very drastic happens to him.
Carl Edwards has been the mile and a halfer this year. Carl very easily could have won here in the spring but lost an engine and was relegated to a 42nd place finish. Look for Carl to battle Jimmie just like he did at Kansas. Carl will do anything he can to reach the checkers first this weekend and try to get himself back in contention.
Greg Biffle finished 4th at Atlanta earlier this year and needs to at least match that effort this weekend to stay within striking distance of Johnson. Greg has been better at Atlanta than his finishes show. He usually runs in the top 15 most of the race and has a car capable of winning but ends up in an accident or with mechanical problems.
Jeff Burton has run off 3 straight top 10 finishes at Atlanta and needs another one this weekend. Jeff is only 3 points behind Biffle but a hefty 152 points behind Johnson right now. All that these drivers can do is run there race and hope Johnson has a bad setup or some other issue that can pull them a bit closer right now.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a great run at Martinsville last weekend and loves to race at Atlanta. Junior is the driver that loves to run at the top of the track and he can do it this weekend. If he can keep his car off the wall during the race he should be in contention at the end.
Tony Stewart is another stellar driver at Atlanta lately. Tony has a win and two runner-up finishes in the last 4 Atlanta races. He also has a string of 12 top 10 finishes in his last 14 Atlanta starts. Tony would love to get another win this year before leaving Gibbs and joining his own team next season.
Jeff Gordon didn’t get the finish he hoped for last weekend and is running out of opportunities to get a win this year. Jeff has finished in the top 10 at Atlanta in 5 of his last 6 races there. I just don’t think that this team has what it takes to win here because of the stiff competition.
Clint Bowyer has been on a roll at Atlanta himself. Clint has finished 6th in his last 3 races here. I think he is too far behind Johnson to win the championship right now but he needs to battle with those behind him to stay in the top 5 in the standings.
Yahoo Picks for Atlanta
Jimmie Johnson (starter)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (starter)
Kasey Kahne (starter)
AJ Allmendinger (starter) must qualify
Top 5 Overall at Atlanta
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Tony Stewart
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Matt Kenseth
Dark Horse: David Ragan
Stay Away From: Ryan Newman
As always you can Email me with any questions, comments or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck once again this weekend!