As Chase heats up in Phoenix, picks remain the same

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 03: Denny Hamlin, driver of the  FedEx Toyota, races Jimmie Johnson, driver of the  Lowe's Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Price Chopper 400 on October 3, 2010 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

There are only two races left in the NASCAR season but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time to hit big on picks.

The case Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick again is strong this week. Johnson and Harvick have both taken home wins and Hamlin has finished in the top-5 in half of his starts at the 1 mile tri-oval.

Further there have been few cars who have been able to hang with them on a week to week basis and there seems to be no shortage of come through the field with ease clips to appear on our tv screens. If any of these three don’t have a good finish it will likely be the doing of someone else.

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Mark Martin, driver of the  CARQUEST/ Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The next guy I would recommend is Mark Martin. Martin has been fantasic at Phoneix and his team has really turned it around of late. In Martins last five starts at Phoneix he has four top-5’s and a win. Only four times has he finished worse then 15th at Phoneix and that says alot considering Martin has appeared in 27 races at the track.

I’ve really cooled on Jeff Gordon in recent weeks. Gordon has found himself sliding backwards on the scoring chart as the last few races have finished. Even a scuffle with Jeff Burton doesn’t figure to do much to his hopes this weekend. That doesn’t mean to not pick either but if you are participating in a fantasy league where you have a point or dollar amount you may be wise to choose another option for your best return on investment.

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 06: Matt Kenseth drives the  Crown Royal Black Ford during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 6, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

A guy I’m expecting big things out of this weekend is Matt Kenseth. Kenseth’s #17 team has looked on the ball the last two weeks. Kenseth has finished on the lead lap in the last 6 events this year and has led a lap in 5 of those races. He finished 6th earlier this year at Phoneix and while he doesn’t have the decorated stats of Martin he also has found his way to victory lane.

I’ve found myself uncertain on Martin Truex as I thought he was a good pick at Texas but the only way he was able to get on TV was by spinning though the infield. He finished 17th in the first race at Phoenix this year. Prior to that he had top-10’s in four of his previous five starts including a fifth place finish in the fall 2009 race that he sat on the pole for.

Joey Logano has continued to get better as he visits tracks for the third and forth time. After a pair of 21st place finishes in 2009 he finished 10th in his last effort in the dessert. He’s a good bet for another 5th-14th place finish this weekend as well.

There was a time that Dale Earnhardt Jr was constantly thought of as a buy low and ride the riches pick this year. Well Earnhardt’s recent history both at Phoenix and in the last handful of races have again made him someone to steer clear of for the time being. He’s simply not worth the risk at this point.

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 07: Robby Gordon drives the wrecked  MAPEI/Menards Toyota after an incident in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)

You can feel comfortable staying away from Elliott Sadler (1 top-10 in 17 starts) and Casey Mears (0 in 12) as well as Robby Gordon (2 in 16 starts). None of these guys figure to be much more then also-rans even if Gordon is touting the fact he has Polaris on board.