Jonathan Merryman and Zack Albert put aside the pre-race chatter and take the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup to the track as they debate if Martin Truex Jr. can return to his intermediate track form and make their picks for the MyAFibRisk.com 400.
RELATED: See the Chase Grid " Download your own We asked members of the NASCAR.com editorial staff to fill out their Chase Grids. Even @nascarcasm got involved. See below for our sleepers, championship picks and even a few doodles. Click on the individual grids to make them larger. Zack Albert Kenny Bruce Holly Cain George Winkler Brad Norman @nascarcasm
RELATED: Complete Sunday schedule " Kes takes Darlington pole Members of the NASCAR.com editorial team make their predictions for one of the most prestigious races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series calendar: the Bojangles' Southern 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Zack Albert Kyle Busch : The tradition returns? Kyle Busch leading piles of laps at Darlington has some heritage, too. Kenny Bruce Jeff Gordon : A five-time Southern 500 winner, Gordon secures a spot in the Chase in his final Darlington appearance. Holly Cain Kevin Harvick : Coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes in the previous two races, it's time Harvick re-visits victory lane for a proper Chase send-off and his second straight Darlington win. MORE: Darlington throwback paint schemes Brad Norman Kurt Busch : The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has three career poles, but no wins at Darlington. That changes Sunday as the No. 41 notches a momentum-building win with the Chase looming. George Winkler Kevin Harvick : Fans looking for a surprise winner to shake up the Chase won't get it because Harvick has been just too good all season and is in prime position (third in lineup) for a repeat performance at Darlington. Pat DeCola Martin Truex Jr . : Sure, Truex started the season with 13 top-10s in his first 15 races and only has two in the nine events since, but it's hard to picture the No. 78 team not regaining its strength as we roll into the Chase. With a low-downforce package at Darlington that would seem to favor Truex -- a vocal proponent of as little downforce as possible -- a Southern 500 win for the Furniture Row Racing driver seems like more than just a dark horse pick. RJ Kraft Kevin Harvick : No Cup driver has repeated at Darlington since Greg Biffle did in 2006, and Harvick will as he also sees his string of oh-so-close calls for a third 2015 victory come to an end at the “Lady in Black." Jessica Ruffin Brad Keselowski : Pole-sitter Keselowski's speed during practice and qualifying at "The Lady in Black," coupled with his strength with the low downforce rules package at Kentucky tells me he is going to be a force to be reckoned with on Sunday night. Kathy Sheldon Joey Logano : He loved the low downforce package at Kentucky, finishing second with it. He's on a roll with two wins in the last three races. And he found some speed in practice at Darlington, breaking into the top 10 in early practice.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: The drivers get most of the attention, so we will introduce you to the 16 crew chiefs that will be making the calls for the teams in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ... Who has the best pit crew of all the Chase teams? PitTalks.com's four-part series analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of each over-the-wall crew ... @nascarcasm recaps the Richmond action as only he can. TUESDAY: Will there be any movement in this week's Power Rankings presented by Outback? We'll see how the top drivers are ranked heading into the Chase ... @nascarcasm drafts up a Facebook page using his wit and comedic puns ... Hear the best in-car audio with Scanner Sounds. WEDNESDAY: See the fresh looks that will be on track at Chicagoland Speedway with Paint Scheme Preview ... High 5 presents the best NASCAR content from around the web ... Which team is the favorite to win the championship? Holly Cain tells you ... Kenny Bruce reports on the open test at Kansas. THURSDAY: Chase Media Day is here and NASCAR.com will have a live stream from the event so you can hear from all the drivers in the postseason field ... Driver Reports is back this week and highlights the 16 drivers in the Chase ... Jimmie Johnson turning 40? @nascarcasm has something to say about that. FRIDAY: There is plenty of on-track action with all three NASCAR national series in action at Chicagoland Speedway . A busy day is capped off by Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at 6:45 p.m. ET followed by the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol e15 225 at 8:30 p.m. ET. ... Kenny Bruce and Zack Albert will be on the ground as drivers prepare for the start of the Chase ... 8 Tweets highlights the best from social media in the past week. Also coming this week: Chase Across North America kicks off on Tuesday with drivers taking to the cities hosting Chase races and a few other locations for special appearances ahead of the Chase ... In light of Denny Hamlin 's torn ACL, we take a look at drivers who have raced injured.
Jonathan Merryman and Zack Albert give a quick preview of the Bojangles Southern 500. From who has speed to the best throwback paint scheme; check out the Starting Grid from Darlington Raceway.
Stay updated with everything happening at the track 'Too Tough to Tame' RELATED: Check out NASCAR.com's new Social Drive Hey fans, there's plenty going on at Darlington Raceway this weekend and while many of you likely have Monday off for Labor Day observance -- there's a good chance you're stuck behind a desk this Friday morning and afternoon. Don't worry, NASCAR.com has you covered with our running blog of everything happening at the "Lady in Black", so keep this tab open on your browser and keep that refresh button handy. Just remember to minimize your browser when your boss walks by -- unless, of course, he or she is a NASCAR fan, too. 5:53 p.m. ET: Thanks for following along today. Here's Zack Albert with tonight's tune-in alert via his trusty typewriter. Tune-in alert @TooToughToTame . #NASCAR #NASCARthrowback #TraditionReturns pic.twitter.com/QDxhy3xuPn — Zack Albert (@zack_albert) September 4, 2015 5:35 p.m. ET: Tough break for 'Rowdy'. Backup car coming out of the hauler for @KyleBusch after tagging the wall w primary car in final practice #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/pLt1O5ydMx — Kyle Rickey (@KyleRRickey) September 4, 2015 5:03 p.m ET: Not getting enough attention for how good his paint scheme looks? 'Smoke'. . @TonyStewart brings his car in for adjustments during final practice @TooToughToTame . #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/TAcvf5o0gW — Motor Racing Network (@MRNRadio) September 4, 2015 4:54 p.m. ET: Swag? Check. Throwback scheme ✔️ Throwback firesuit ✔️ Throwback shoes ✔️ @DaleJr does Cale Yarborough right. #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/PbL1NVxsEZ — Motor Racing Network (@MRNRadio) September 4, 2015 4:45 p.m. ET: There's always time for the fans. . @KyleBusch of @JoeGibbsRacing signs for fans before @TooToughToTame final practice. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/KvGT5GAVyF — Zack Albert (@zack_albert) September 4, 2015 4:44 p.m. ET: Problems for the 88 and 55. Driveshaft change for @dalejr , who complained earlier of a bad vibration. @DavidRagan had a wall-banger. @TooToughToTame — tom jensen (@tomjensen100) September 4, 2015 4:35 p.m: ET: We're rolling for final practice. Get over to NBCSN. L8tr, dudes. #BojanglesSo500 pic.twitter.com/3oyv4ZP68Q — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 4, 2015 4:16 p.m. ET: Swoon, indeed. One word: Swoon. #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/xdaM7sTpov — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 4, 2015 4:12 p.m. ET: Every aspect of #NASCARthrowback has been strong so far. Seriously. The #NASCARthrowback hat game is strong so far. #TraditionReturns pic.twitter.com/TiPePcH6pH — Darlington Raceway (@TooToughToTame) September 4, 2015 4:07 p.m. ET: There were tons of awesome throwback images from Darlington on Friday. Here are some of the greatest. 3:58 p.m. ET: Sam Bass is one of the best. #NASCARthrowback @TooToughToTame http://t.co/TueDdY0Nj9 pic.twitter.com/wxaiSFYF22 — Sam Bass (@sambassartist) September 4, 2015 3:43 p.m. ET: What he said. We miss you, Buddy Baker. Nice tribute by @MWRteam and @ClintBowyer @TooToughToTame pic.twitter.com/7zcgnI7dVN — tom jensen (@tomjensen100) September 4, 2015 3:23 p.m. ET: Got questions about the new digital dashboard? Of course you do. Here are some answers. 3:17 p.m. ET: Yes, yes they are. Are you following @NASCAR on @instagram ??? Because they're crushing it with #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/yoL1fc6rsM — Jason Christley (@jay_christley) September 4, 2015 2:55 p.m. ET: And you thought Zack Albert was kidding. Now this is old school. @zack_albert #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/PgQCaZWkGr — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) September 4, 2015 2:38 p.m. ET: Congrats, Bill Elliott . Awesome. Million Dollar. Tonight @BillElliott9 gets another name: NMPA Hall of Famer. #TraditionReturns pic.twitter.com/uikM8ndx2H — Darlington Raceway (@TooToughToTame) September 4, 2015 2:34 p.m. ET: Raise your hand if you think it'd be hilarious if Owen had a mustache, too. Had a visitor come by in his @Target hat pic.twitter.com/oCTQXQOf0v — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) September 4, 2015 2:27 p.m. ET: Speaking of which -- Bill Elliott is about to address the media at 2:30 p.m. ET. Head on over to Press Pass to watch. But then come right back here. 2:26 p.m ET: Awesome. One Hall of Famer and one future one... @JeffGordonWeb and @billelliott9 catch up @TooToughToTame #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/P5yBtlehlo — Motor Racing Network (@MRNRadio) September 4, 2015 2:21 p.m. ET: Brad isn't typically known for siding with the popular opinion, but he isn't alone here. Just look at it. I like @KyleLarsonRacin scheme the best. Gave me chills seeing it today as it was my favorite car growing up. https://t.co/6QV8czboOO — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) September 4, 2015 2:19 p.m. ET: Color me jealous. Before @joeylogano took off for @TooToughToTame he passed out some throwback gear to #RaceHub crew. #Hublove pic.twitter.com/OpQzgGEXRT — Danielle Trotta (@DanielleTrotta) September 4, 2015 2:12 p.m. ET: Kyle Busch 's double-duty gets off to a good start. His No. 54 Toyota topped XFINITY Series practice. Read more and get full practice results here. 2:10 p.m. ET: Keselowski has a habit of putting top-five cars in Victory Lane. Keep an eye on him this weekend. Showing decent speed so far @TooToughToTame Anxious to see how it all plays out with one more practice session to find more. top-5 car — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) September 4, 2015 2:04 p.m. ET: Sunday will mark Jeff Gordon 's last dance with the "Lady in Black". Darlington gives Jeff Gordon a painting of all his record 7 wins here. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/F27Jqjseeh — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) September 4, 2015 2:02 p.m. ET: Well put, Kyle. Well put. It's hot as today!! Cup car is a handful. Not sure what's going on in that. Xfinity car is extremely loose. Been workin hard today. — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) September 4, 2015 1:50 p.m. ET: Greg Biffle ruled opening Cup practice. Get full practice speeds and more in this recap. 1:33 p.m. ET: Ray Evernham knows a little something about Darlington, so he gave Dale Earnhardt Jr . some tips. Read more here. 12:41 p.m. ET: Okay, I take it back. Sorry, Aric Almirola . Zack Albert wins #NASCARThrowback. Taking the media center old-school @TooToughToTame . #NASCAR #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/xHUtyMzm3V — Zack Albert (@zack_albert) September 4, 2015 12:28 p.m. ET: Keelan Harvick: Beer Pong aficianado. Read more in this week's Eight Tweets You Might Have Missed . 11:53 p.m. ET: Here's a look at that Austin Dillon wreck . Dillon tags the wall early at Darlington 11:48 p.m. ET: Something to keep in mind for any of you crew chiefs reading this blog. There's 3 kinds of grip, mechanical, aero, and tires, if you change the tires to compliment the aero package, they off set each other! — Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) September 4, 2015 11:41 a.m. ET: This is about as #NASCARThrowback as it gets. Oh my pic.twitter.com/pESuLoMDx4 — Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) September 4, 2015 11:40 a.m. ET: Oh yes. Oh my pic.twitter.com/pESuLoMDx4 — Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) September 4, 2015 11:27 p.m. ET: Wait a second, Kurt Busch ... is that a bell-bottomed firesuit? . @KurtBusch takes a break during first practice. #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/DQ3voQXrdh — Motor Racing Network (@MRNRadio) September 4, 2015 Darlington Stripe ✔️ pic.twitter.com/5u8RRu3avM — RCR (@RCRracing) September 4, 2015 And the first Darlington Stripe goes to... @austindillon3 . #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/WOQy0dxLNX — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 4, 2015 11:05 a.m. ET: Aric Almirola wins throwback weekend. . @aric_almirola sporting a fu manchu mustache at @TooToughToTame ala "The King" Richard Petty. @RPMotorsports #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/oXQK5DVgdx — Jay W. Pennell (@jaywpennell) September 4, 2015 10:40 a.m. ET: A little bit of the past, a little bit of the future on display at Darlington. Darlington is honoring the past, but technology is #NASCAR 's future. Welcome the digital dash: http://t.co/SuP7Vrtavu pic.twitter.com/gPgKAV07nK — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 4, 2015 10:35 a.m. ET: Some news for you this morning. Leavine Family Racing announced they have parted ways with crew chief Wally Rogers. Read more here . 10:27 a.m. ET: Drivers are really getting into this whole throwback thing. Cool hat, Kes. . @keselowski has one of those old-school hats to go with his paint scheme. #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/51Xe6NhGf6 — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) September 4, 2015 10:15 a.m. ET: Yup. This is awesome. Welcome to the '70s, sports fans. #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/TVvZb5Q9tS — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 4, 2015 10:11 a.m. ET: Darlington is certainly known for its close finishes, but we might need more than a Polaroid. Photo finish technology to be implemented this weekend. https://t.co/V5RR1RwyDw — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 4, 2015 10:07 a.m. ET: Throwback schemes might look cool, but don't be fooled -- they certainly aren't on the inside. 4 hours of practice today. Mid 90 degree temps. Cockpit temps nearing 130 degrees. We gonna earn it today boys and girls. @TooToughToTame — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 4, 2015
Zack Morris has the honors ahead of Hollywood Casino 400 RELATED: @nascarcasm on how NASCAR, 'Saved By The Bell' are alike Kansas Speedway has announced its grand marshal for the Hollywood Casino 400 , and -- Hey, hey, hey, what is going on here? Zack Morris, straight from Bayside High, will utter the most famous words in racing on Oct. 18. Oh, Preppy! via GIPHY OK, we get that it's not actually Zack Morris -- it's actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and he's done much more than just "Saved by the Bell." Still, who doesn't remember him as the fun-loving, trouble-making high schooler? We only hope he brings Kelly Kapowski with him. We're also glad he can no longer be confused with Jamie McMurray .
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Jessica Ruffin recaps Joe Gibbs Racing 's huge night in Kentucky, and how its four drivers managed to all finish in the top five ... @nascarcasm provides examples of fake text messages Dale Jr. might have received after his incident with Danica Patrick ... The Rundown gives you a note on all 43 finishers in the Quaker State 400. TUESDAY: This week's Power Rankings presented by Outback may have a new No. 1 driver after a great race on Saturday night ... speaking of the great racing, a new rules package was used for the first time at Kentucky. Zack Albert breaks down which teams benefited the most ... @nascarcasm provides the Facebook page of race-winner Kyle Busch . WEDNESDAY: New paint schemes will be on display at New Hampshire, and we'll have them all in Paint Scheme Preview ... Dale Earnhardt Jr . paid a visit to the International Speedway Corp., and we tagged along for the ride ... our weekly High 5 feature presents the best NASCAR content from around the web. THURSDAY: Plenty of #TBT action for you, including looking back on Rusty Wallace's win at New Hampshire in 1993, a gallery of the best #TBT posts from drivers, and photos of Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s fiancee sporting vintage NASCAR T-shirts. FRIDAY: The Sprint Cup Series gets on track at 11:30 a.m. ET, and we'll have leaderboards from three total practices and Sprint Cup qualifying ... 8 Tweets You Might Have Missed highlights the best from social media over the past week. Also coming this week: Steve O'Donnell says NASCAR will address Kentucky Speedway's surface before the series returns in 2016 ... Want to hear the best sounds from the scanner? That will be available Tuesday ... Zack Albert will preview next week's race at Eldora, always a crowd favorite.
From weather to a new rules package, Matt Strickert and Zack Albert try to compartmentalize all the events leading up to the Quaker State 400.
Edwards the defending race winner at California road course RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings With fewer than 30 laps left in Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350, Carl Edwards and David Ragan made contact that left both cars with significant damage and ruined their days at Sonoma Raceway. Edwards, the defending race winner, got loose coming into Turn 8 and his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota got into Ragan's No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, sending both cars into the wall. Ragan would finish 39th and Edwards was behind him in 40th place. "We're just racing, and David and I race really well together, but it was just one of those deals where we came off of Turn 7 dead-even, and both of us wanted to see who would give first," Edwards said. "My left-rear hit his right-rear and it just … it was pretty small contact, but it bounced both cars sideways and ruined our day. Probably my fault. In fact, that part is my fault, but it's just frustrating because I love this race track and I was having fun. Just wanted to be out there racing and it's a tough one to have to sit out." Ragan was involved in an earlier incident when his contact with Martin Truex Jr . sent the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet into a tire barrier to bring out the second caution of the race. "It's tough," Ragan told reporters. "I mean obviously, I'm there, he's there, we're both racing hard. It's just a racing thing. I don't fault Carl. If his car would've given me some room, I would've been able to go. If I would've given Carl some room, I would've been able to take the spot or he would've been able to take the spot. That's just racing at Sonoma. It's tight back there and you've got to go -- 30-something laps to go, you don't have time to mess around." Edwards already has a win this year while Ragan is still looking for one to make his way into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . -- NASCAR.com's Zack Albert contributed to this report FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule