It's been a crazy week off the track in NASCAR. Jimmie Johnson, with the help of Rick Hendrick's lawyers, gained 25 points and moved up to 11th without winning a race. Bruton Smith says he's going to tear up Bristol and make it like the old configuration. He's apparently not making enough money, noting the lack of fans Sunday at one of the NASCAR's most popular tracks. They want the old track back. Of course, they wouldn't mind having the old ticket prices and the old gas prices back too. Those are certainly factors in the fans staying away as well.
One old occurrence that did take place Sunday afternoon was the No. 2 showing up in Victory Lane at Bristol. Brad Keselowski, who also won at Bristol last year, has taken over the Penske No. 2 car. So that win along with the successes of previous No. 2 drivers Kurt Busch and Rusty Wallace at Bristol means I'm picking Keselowski to win the fall race there, no matter what the track configuration might be.
As for this week, here's a look at the picks for the 3 p.m. Sunday race on FOX at the two-mile track in California
Jimmie Johnson - Five-timer has won five times at California. The team should be on a high after winning its appeal and it's Johnson's home track. Can't not pick him here.
Matt Kenseth - He's got three wins here and has run well all season. It would be surprising if he doesn't battle for the lead.
Greg Biffle - Well, I suppose you have to give the points leader some respect sometime. He's got one win at California and four top fives.
Tony Stewart - He's got one win and five top fives and Hendrick information to help him, too.
Kevin Harvick - No more sentimental picks at the end now. I need a win and Harvick won this race last year. So why not two in a row?
Coulda, woulda, shoulda - Jeff Gordon. He's got three wins here and has had a car capable of winning in these early races. But he seems to be a bit snakebit this year, so couldn't put his name on my top five.
Here's a review of last week's picks at Bristol and how they finished.
Kyle Busch - 32nd. An early wreck ended any chance he had of winning. He still got back out and ran 423 laps and finished 31st.
Matt Kenseth - 2nd. Just as easily could have won. He pushed Keselowski late in the race, but couldn't make the winning pass, quick re-start or not.
Kevin Harvick - 11th. He also got caught in an accident, but managed to get on the lead lap and hang in there and make what could have been a disaster into a pretty decent day.
Jimmie Johnson - 9th. He didn't lead any laps, but did hang around the top 10 all day.
Kasey Kahne - 37th. The team is good, I think the driver is good and the car is good. So far though, the luck is all bad.
Here's a look at my stats after four races and 20 picks.
5 top fives
3 top 10s
Grade for this week: B minus (a Kenseth win would have given me a boost
That zero there is still killing me.
One Last Thing: And speaking of zeros, last year's points runnerup Carl Edwards has yet to lead a lap this season. On the flip side, Brian Vickers ran his first race of the season Sunday at Bristol in the No. 55 Toyota. He led 125 laps, the third most this season in the Sprint Cup Series.
Until next time