SamsungRadio Shack

Samsung/Radio Shack 500: Good Spellers Make Good Racers.Ten minutes before the race in Martinsville last week, I knew my selection of Jimmie Johnson would go for naught.It's not that I had a sudden revelation about J.J.'s short-track abilities. It's not that I reconsidered the quality of the Hendrick Motorsports flat-track program.

And it all actually turned out fine, since I'd also selected eventual race-winner Tony Stewart, as well as a correct head-to-head wager. And yet, ten minutes before the race, I knew I'd done wrong choosing the polesitting Johnson.Why?.

Because as the cry of "gentlemen start your engines" came up from some corporate grunt in the hills of Virginia, Fox cut to an in-car view of J.J.'s finger pressing the ignition button. The whole dashboard was laid out, looking like something from a NASA flight simulator. And on the dash was a single Post-It note: a reminder for Johnson to which he could refer throughout the event, a reminder from his team, maybe even from his reinstated crew chief Chad Knaus.

What did the Post-It note read?."Rythm.".Aw.

How embarrassing. While, of course, Knaus (or someone) simply wanted J.J.

to remember to keep cool over the course of a long racing day, to keep his own tempo in mind, and drive his own race, he committed a nationally televised spelling faux pas. For you see the word is spelled, "Rhythm." Not that big a deal to the untrained eye, I grant you, but awkward nonetheless. And then you have to keep in mind what intellectuals Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond are: they are nothing if not sticklers for spelling. At that moment, Johnson was doomed. Fox was simply not going to reward a bad speller by letting him go to Victory Lane.

Anyway. This week the Smokeless Set heads to Texas Motor Speedway, a high-banked, unrestricted intermediate mile-and-a-halfer where aero is everything. Texas is a sister track to Atlanta and Charlotte (at least until we see what they unveil at Charlotte in a month), so data from those tracks is of particular interest to us this week.

Also of note is the fact that Kasey Kahne was really, really good in the Atlanta race just last month. He won, and the fact that a Dodge could win an aero-type race speaks volumes. It seems that Kahne is far more comfortable with the Dodge Charger in '06 than he was in '05 (though guys like Ryan Newman and Michael Waltrip are still struggling mightily, so much so that Newman has gone back to running the old '04 Intrepid). The Roush cars are perpetually attractive at aero-sensitive tracks, so we'll have to heavily consider them this week as well. Let's take a look at my favorite selections for this week.

Last Week: Stewart won at Martinsville, conquering his recent demons at that venue, and Johnson at least stayed in front of Kevin Harvick, giving me a head-to-head win for the fifth consecutive week. It's also the second straight week where I picked both the race winner and a H2H winner. Of the six races so far this year, if you've bet with me every week, you've made money in five of them, including five in a row. For last weekend I finished up 2.

26 units; for the season, I'm up 8.92 units.

.Christopher Harris is a featured writer for the Professional Handicappers League.

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By: Christopher Harris


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