NASCAR got what it wanted.

The Chase scenarios would confuse a math major.

Several drivers would like a good showing to solidify their turf for the playoffs. Some need this race in order to even get in the playoffs. Just so happens the three drivers who need a win most are my picks this week, down a mere 75 fake dollars after Jeff Gordon’s Atlanta win.

20 fake dollars on Denny Hamlin at 9/2

The last time Hamlin had a lead and needed a solid finish, he blew it at Homestead. Drivers and teams should learn from that. Plus, this is probably Hamlin’s best track.  He finished second here earlier this year, and I just can’t justify Kyle Busch at 3/1, especially when he doesn’t need to make a statement.

20 fake dollars on Jimmie Johnson at 8/1

Johnson is in the Chase. He leads in points. Does anyone see him as the favorite? If pedigree is a determining factor, then it’s his to lose. But if you just looked at numbers, Johnson doesn’t distinguish himself from others in 2011. A win gives Johnson bonus points and puts everyone on notice.

10 fake dollars on Brad Keselowski at 15/1

Keselowski is locked in as well. But Ankle Man’s bonus points don’t carry over unless he makes the top 10. The dude won at Bristol. If Keselowski wins, he’s tied for the points lead. Who could have ever imaged that two months ago?

Intriguing stories. Fun track. Saturday night. NASCAR certainly got what it wanted as Saturday ends one journey and begins another. The transition should be memorable. Here’s what The Spread thinks, and insert random catchphrase here.

Kyle Busch 3/1
Denny Hamlin 9/2
Jimmie Johnson 8/1
Jeff Gordon 8/1
Carl Edwards 10/1
Tony Stewart 12/1
Kevin Harvick 15/1
Brad Keselowski 15/1
Kurt Busch 20/1
Clint Bowyer 20/1
Matt Kenseth 20/1
Kasey Kahne 30/1
Ryan Newman 30/1
Greg Biffle 30/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr 30/1
Mark Martin 40/1
Martin Truex Jr 40/1
Joey Logano 40/1
Juan Pablo Montoya 50/1
Jeff Burton 50/1
AJ Allmendinger 50/1
Paul Menard 50/1
David Ragan 60/1
Jamie McMurray 60/1
Brian Vickers 75/1
David Reutimann 75/1
Marcos Ambrose 100/1
Regan Smith 100/1
Bobby Labonte 100/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 100/1