I’m on vacation. In Michigan.  How fitting?

I spent six years in Northern Michigan trying to become the next Ron Burgandy. Often, I wondered why all these tourists would show up and create traffic in the summer. Now, I’m creating that traffic and watching some other anchor try to be the next Ron Burgandy. It’s surreal.

So too are the changes taking place in NASCAR, where big manufactuers seem to be making bigger changes as we move toward the 2011 Chase.

Ford is the new Chevy:
Remember when Ford had the “it” package. Trevor Bayne won Daytona. Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth dominated races. David Ragan won at Daytona again. Greg Biffle…lost his crew chief??

The last six weeks, where has “it” been? In contention? Yes. Picking up points? You bet. Drivers have to win Chase races to win the Chase. Their aura around the Ford engine isn’t there anymore. Neither might the 2011 Sprint Cup for a Ford driver is this trend continues.

Dodge is the new Ford:
I never knew Roger Penske could do back flips. With Dodge. Kurt Busch seems to keep winning poles. Brad Keselowski seems to keep winning races. Both love road courses. After doing nothing right the first 1/3 of the season, the middle 1/3 have moved Dodge to upper echelon, at least for now.

Chevy is the new Dodge:
Chevy was the alpha dog. Nine titles with Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Great wins with Richard Childress Racing. Mark Martin finished second in the points for the 254,551 time.

That dog isn’t barking as loud. Kevin Harvick has three wins but has slowed. Plus, it’s not like Bud Man dominated in any of those victories. Jimmie Johnson has ruined my picks segment this year and has been rounding into form for three months. Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have been solid but unspectacular. Jeff Gordon may be their best shot at a title.

Nobody in Michigan knows what to make of Dodge. I don’t know what to make of Chevy in NASCAR. I do know there’s no chance I’m picking a Toyota this week, even though I’m down 160 dollars after Marcos Ambrose crushed my soul at Watkins Glen.

Here are quick picks and what The Spread thinks. I’m going tubing, so insert random catchphrase here.

  • 20 fake dollars on Carl Edwards at 7/1
  • 10 fake dollars on Matt Kenseth at 12/1
  • 10 fake dollars on Greg Biffle at 20/1
  • 5 fake dollars on Brad Keselowski at 25/1
  • 5 fake dollars on David Ragan at 40/1

Jimmie Johnson 7/1
Carl Edwards 7/1
Denny Hamlin 8/1
Kyle Busch 8/1
Jeff Gordon 8/1
Kurt Busch 8/1
Kevin Harvick 12/1
Matt Kenseth 12/1
Tony Stewart 12/1
Greg Biffle 20/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr 25/1
Brad Keselowski 25/1
Clint Bowyer 30/1
Ryan Newman 30/1
Kasey Kahne 30/1
Joey Logano 30/1
Martin Truex Jr 40/1
David Ragan 40/1
Juan Pablo Montoya 40/1
Mark Martin 50/1
Jeff Burton 50/1
Paul Menard 50/1
David Reutimann 50/1
Brian Vickers 50/1
Jamie McMurray 50/1
AJ Allmendinger 60/1
Trevor Bayne 100/1
Regan Smith 100/1
Marcos Ambrose 100/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 100/1