October 31, 2008
Experts' Picks: Dickies 500
  My Pick: Carl Edwards
Why he'll win: The last three winners of the fall race in Atlanta, where Edwards took the checkers last Sunday, have gone on to win the following week at Texas. It says here that this trend will continue, but it will be too little, too late for Edwards, who won't catch Jimmie Johnson in the points standings.
Keep an eye on: Jimmie Johnson -- If Johnson merely finishes ninth or better in the last three races and Edwards manages to win all three events, Johnson will still win the championship. Expect Johnson to be somewhat conservative on Sunday but still finish in the top 10.
Don't expect much from: Jeff Gordon -- Don't expect Gordon to get his first win of the season on Sunday. In 15 career starts at the track he has zero wins and an average finish of 17.1. In the spring race here he came in dead last, 43rd, after crashing.
  My Pick: Carl Edwards
Why he'll win: He won at Texas last April, and he figures to be gunning for Victory Lane like nobody's business on Sunday. It's his only hope ... along with a major mistake by Jimmie Johnson.
Keep an eye on: Jeff Burton -- He might be a tick slower than Edwards and Johnson, but Burton has the stuff to be close to the front at the end. He's won at Texas before and it certainly would be no surprise to see him reach Victory Lane again.
Don't expect much from: Jeff Gordon -- Texas isn't his favorite track, and for a man with car trouble, it doesn't seem likely to be the site of his first win of the season. The four-time champ and his crew chief, Steve Letarte, have fought with the new car all season. Why should we expect things will be different on Sunday?
  My Pick: Jimmie Johnson
Why he'll win: First or second in three of his last four at Texas. He has an average finish of 8.5 at the 1.5-mile oval and is clamping down on his third straight title.
Keep an eye on: Kyle Busch -- Isn't it about time he jumps again and wins something?
Don't expect much from: Carl Edwards -- He looked a bit demoralized when he was told Johnson had rallied to finish second to him at Atlanta, and with good reason. That 183-point deficit to Johnson is huge with three races left.
  My Pick: Matt Kenseth
Why he'll win: Everyone talks about Jeff Gordon's winless streak, but he's not the only veteran with a zero in the win column. Matt Kenseth has visited Victory Lane every year since 2002, and hopes to keep the streak alive at Texas this Sunday. Last year, he had the car to beat until Jimmie Johnson squeaked by in the race's final laps; but this year, expect the No. 17 to hold on while Johnson plays it safe to secure his third straight title with Hendrick.
Keep an eye on: Denny Hamlin -- Overlooked this Chase by Kyle Busch's slump and Tony Stewart's imminent departure, Hamlin's trying to salvage his playoffs with two consecutive Top five finishes. Last year in this race, he had a winning car until he overdrove it trying to pass Kenseth for the win.
Don't expect much from: Greg Biffle -- Knocked down to third in points last week, The Biff's title hopes are now in tough shape. In four of the last five races at Texas, he's finished 33rd or worse.
  My Pick: Carl Edwards
Why he'll win: The streak where the Atlanta winner drives to victory at Texas will continue again this year as Edwards continues his fearless -- yet futile -- attempt at tracking down Jimmie Johnson with three races remaining. Edwards drives well on the 1.5 mile tracks, and when he wins on Sunday he will tie Kyle Busch for most victories in a season (8).
Keep an eye on: Jimmie Johnson -- Even on a day when he experiences problems, Johnson can still drive back to the front of the field. He proved that last week at Atlanta when he overcame a pit road speeding penalty to finish second. Watch for more of Johnson's magic on Sunday.
Don't expect much from: Jeff Gordon -- This is one of the few tracks where Gordon has never driven to victory, so in a season in which he hasn't won a race, it's a double-whammy for the four-time Cup champion.
  My Pick: Carl Edwards
Why he'll win: He has three wins this year on 1.5-mile tracks owned by Bruton Smith, including at Texas in April. He also has victories on two 2-mile tracks in 2008 that require the same high-speed driving ability, horsepower and handling. He's the king of these playgrounds, so he'll drive it as hard as it takes to win.
Keep an eye on: Matt Kenseth -- He's been solid all season on 1.5-mile tracks with seven top-10s topped by fourth last week at Atlanta. Kenseth has also been strong at Texas, with a win in 2002 and three second-place finishes. The second time around at Texas should be one of Kenseth's best runs of the season.
Don't expect much from: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -- Junior's intermediate program has slid backwards in the second half of the season, without a top-10 finish since winning at Michigan in June. His first Cup win was at Texas in 2000, but he's had only two more top-fives in 11 starts since then, including 12th in April.

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