"There's no place like home...there's no place like home." Normally one would watch a red-head click her red shoes together and she's suddenly out of the Land of Oz and back in her own home when hearing that line. But for NASCAR, it has a different meaning.
This week, the top tier NASCAR series is having their own version of a "Home Track" event. It's a return visit to what is considered the home of the sport, where the Hall of Fame is located, and where a majority of the team headquarters are set up. This is the oldest 1.5-mile track on the schedule, but for everyone, this represents home.
NASCAR comes back to Charlotte this week, in what is the only Saturday night event in the Chase.
Every team wants to win at Charlotte, because it's considered one of the big tracks to win at on the year, and provides bragging rights for months until the next series of races arrives.
So what does that mean for the writers? Well with the points as tight as they are, it will mean a need to either maintain their position, or go for broke. Their picks are locked in for a classic Saturday night shootout at Charlotte. Here are their choices for victory in the Bank of America 500:
Misan Akuya: Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch and that 78 have something going on with these 1.5 mile tracks. The older of the two Busch's ran top five in the All-Star Race and Coca Cola 600.
After his second place finish at Kansas, a win could be on the horizon as Busch runs his final races in the 78.
Rob Blount: Kevin Harvick
I hate picking a driver that won the previous week because the chances of a driver going back-to-back are very low. But, Harvick is incredibly strong on the intermediate tracks as we just saw this past weekend in Kansas.
Only three drivers have won on 1.5 mile tracks this season. Two of them are Joe Gibbs Racing drivers. Harvick is the only driver outside of JGR to win on an intermediate track. Oh yeah, and he won at Charlotte in May. He’s won 2 of the last 5 Charlotte races. He’ll be tough to beat this Saturday night.
James Broomhead: Jeff Gordon
Kelly Crandall: Jeff Gordon
Momentum and a fast car can't hurt. Not sure he can close the deal for a win but this team is top five material.
Billy Fellin: Joey Logano
I'd like to go with Kasey Kahne because he's run very well at Charlotte in the past, but he's just too inconsistent right now. So, I'll take the No. 22. If it weren't for his engine going poof at Chicago, Logano would be right in the thick of the title hunt, believe it or not.
Statistically, Charlotte is Logano's best track, with an average finish of 9.6. I think he finds victory lane under the lights.
Michael Hirshbein: Kurt Busch
Kara Martin: Jeff Gordon
Ryan O'Hara: Carl Edwards
He got a rop-five and he had a good run at this race last season. The 99 will get it done.
Dustin Parks: Kevin Harvick
I nearly went with Kasey Kahne for this race, but two things kept me from that pick. First off, he's been inconsistent this year at times, especially during the Chase. Second, I'm still not convinced he's the same Kahne after his wreck at New Hampshire, and subsequent weird interview.
So, opted to go with a sure-fire pick, last week's winner. Of the last three races here, he's won two of them. He's found the right combination at Charlotte, so I'm going for it. Harvick for victory.
Patti Rodisch: Kyle Busch
Sal Sigala Jr: Jimmie Johnson
This track has five-time written all over it. This should be the race that puts Johnson in the points lead, and on his way to becoming a six-time champion.
Rob Tiongson: Matt Kenseth
It's a 1.5-mile track, he's good fast there, and if he doesn't have an "evilest" race car, he'll win this.
Standings following Kansas:
Rob Tiongson (2155) Kasey Kahne finished 15th (3)
Misan Akuya (2153) Matt Kenseth finished 11th (2)
Sal Sigala Jr. (2153) Matt Kenseth finished 11th (1)
Rob Blount (2147) Matt Kenseth finished 11th (2)
Kelly Crandall (2147) Matt Kenseth finished 11th (1)
Ryan O'Hara (2144) Matt Kenseth finished 11th (1)
Patti Rodisch (2143) Kasey Kahne finished 15th (0)
Billy Fellin (2142) Matt Kenseth finished 11th (2)
Dustin Parks (2139) Clint Bowyer finished 14th (0)
Kara Martin (2127) Jimmie Johnson finished 6th (1)
James Broomhead (2109) Matt Kenseth finished 11th (2)
Michael Hirshbein (2103) Kyle Busch finished 34th (3)
Final Thoughts: This track has provided both gratifying moments and nights of carnage. It's seen long runs, and 23-caution flags, but has also seen intense finishes and runaway victories.
With so many different picks this week, it means several different ideas of who can win, and how they can get it done.
Everyone will find out who is right as coverage kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on ABC this Saturday.
Summary of Picks: