Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Road Ringers Lose, Casey Mears on the Move & Young Guns Get the Boot

Welcome to Mirror Driving. Every week, your favorite columnists sit down and give their opinion about the latest NASCAR news and rumors. Love us or hate us, make a comment below and tell us how you feel about what we’ve said!

This Week’s Participants:
Tony Lumbis (Mondays/Rookie Report)
Mike Neff (Wednesdays/Power Rankings & Full Throttle, Thursdays/Picks ‘N’ Pans)
Matt Taliaferro (Thursdays/Fanning the Flames)
Amy Henderson (Fridays/Holding a Pretty Wheel)
Bryan Davis Keith (Thursdays/Picks ‘N’ Pans & Sundays/Nationwide Series Breakdown)
Kurt Allen Smith (Fridays/Happy Hour)

The Watkins Glen race had several road-course ringers in the field but, as usual, a Sprint Cup regular won the race. Is there really any advantage for replacing a team’s full-time driver with a road-course specialist?

Matt T.: Ask the Wood Brothers.
Kurt: Of course there is; there’s money involved. Racing is expensive. Plus, there is the matter of getting the car in the Top 35 in owner points, and a good finish will do that.
Bryan: The No. 01 team would agree with you, Kurt.
Tony: You have to look at who they are replacing. The ringers may not compete with Kyle Busch necessarily, but they are probably going to do better than the driver they’re replacing.
Amy: I think there’s a limited advantage. For the teams trying to climb into the Top 35, there’s a few points to make up. But I wonder if it’s a disservice to some of the young drivers who are being replaced for the road races.
Mike: Yes, there are advantages. You don’t see teams in the Chase putting in a ringer. But teams who are on the cusp of being out of the Top 35 do it to ensure a decent finish.
Bryan: It’s certainly not a sure-fire fix, but in the case of drivers that have no road-course experience, it can pay off.
Matt T.: Sure, I’d rather have Ron Fellows than Regan Smith on the road. I know I’m not ensuring myself a win or anything, but it beats the alternative. Especially when you’re fighting to stay in the Top 35 – then it basically becomes a necessity.
Mike: And most of the time, the teams who do it finish better than their regular driver probably would.
Kurt: And who’s to say a ringer will never win it someday? I can see it happening.
Tony: Exactly Kurt, there have been a few years where a ringer almost did it. Even PJ Jones, who was a ping-pong ball out there, did better than JJ Yeley would’ve done.
Bryan: Marcos Ambrose was close in both races this season, so it’s definitely possible.
Kurt: I will say this though, there are a lot of guys learning road-racing skills. Jimmie Johnson has gotten much better at it.
Bryan: Guys like Jamie McMurray, while not great, are an example of how road courses aren’t throwaway races anymore.
Mike: True; the overall ability of the drivers has certainly come up in the last five years.
Amy: And that’s why I think it makes sense to keep your regular driver in there. What if a couple years down the road you’re in Chase contention and your guy has never run a road-course event because you put in a ringer?

See also
Bowles-Eye View: Road Course Ringers Running Short On Wins

Kurt: That’s a good point Amy, but chances are if a driver is contending, he’ll get some practice before the team goes to Infineon.
Mike: I’d be amazed to see a driver who’s never run a road course make the Chase.
Amy: Seat time in a test is one thing – in a race with 42 other guys is another.
Matt T.: I understand that, Amy, but again, the Top 35 for a team on the bubble is just soooo critical. And look, if you’re safely in the Top 35 like, say Paul Menard, keep him in the car for the experience. But those teams on the bubble have to let the track dictate the driver for their long-term health.
Kurt: The road ringers do kind of take away from things for two races a year, though. Suddenly you don’t recognize half of the field, so I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
Amy: I think part of it is that the road ringers don’t have the experience in these kinds of cars, especially now with the CoT.
Bryan: If you want proof that taking a driver out of road-course races does a disservice to them down the road, look at Travis Kvapil. Man, was he off on Sunday.
Kurt: How about David Reutimann? That guy must hate road courses.
Tony: That’s a good point, Bryan. While it might help the team, it’s pretty much telling your driver that you don’t have confidence in them to be the full-time guy in every sense of the word.
Kurt: I think drivers understand that, Tony. They know that road-course racing is an entirely different skill.
Amy: So how much does it help to take them out then? It may help the team in the short term, but hurt team chemistry in the long run.
Matt T.: Amy, if you’re on the edge of the Top 35, the driver has to understand what’s best for the team.
Tony: The driver may understand that, but if I want to be a championship driver, I need to race 36 events, and my team better believe in me to do so.
Matt T.: Guys on the bubble aren’t championship drivers, though! They have to be team players at that point.
Amy: But is outright saying you have no faith in your driver really good for the team in the long run? If the team doubts the driver’s ability, things fall apart.
Bryan: Couldn’t agree more, Amy. What’s next, should they pull rookies out at Talladega to give Mike Wallace a ride?
Kurt: I don’t think it’s a matter of not having faith in the driver, guys. Road courses are the last thing you learn.
Matt T.: Enter them in Nationwide Series road events. Test a bunch. Go to Bondurant, whatever. But if I’m a team owner, I have to keep my ride in the Top 35. Sponsorship – and thus my actual team – depends on it.
Mike: I think a driver who is being taken out for a road race knows that he hasn’t gotten the job done all year, and it is his own fault that he’s being taken out.
Bryan: When do they learn, though? A rookie season is for learning, yet you deprive them of that chance by bringing a ringer in?
Amy: And like Bryan just said: where do you pull a young guy next? Talladega? Bristol? Lowe’s?
Kurt: Here’s a solution. Since road-course racing requires some obvious driver skill, why not add some more road courses to the schedule? I’d throw away two plate races for two more road races.
Matt T.: If NASCAR wants to add a roadie to the Chase then I say add one, otherwise I think we’re good with two.
Amy: And add one to the Chase already! Add Road Atlanta and take the Cup cars to Montreal.
Bryan: No way, Amy. Montreal is not that great a road course for stock cars, I‘m sorry. Pull Fontana and give us Road Atlanta.
Mike: I want to see dirt first. Dirt is where the sport started, and there are a hell of a lot more dirt tracks in the U.S. than road courses.
Kurt: I don’t know about adding road courses to the Chase, but I wouldn’t argue against it either. And I would love to see a dirt race, but I doubt it will ever happen.
Amy: You aren’t going to see dirt, but there should be two more road races on the schedule.
Mike: I think there should be a road race in the Chase, but I don’t want to see another one on the schedule.
Kurt: But imagine the reaction if a dirt track were added. People would flip!
Mike: If they keep pulling in the crowds at Eldora, they’re going to consider it.
Amy: No, they aren’t. There’s no way teams are going to go for building dirt chassis.
Mike: Why? It’s the same car now. No changes for given tracks.
Amy: Adding one or two dirt races would about bankrupt the smaller teams.
Bryan: It’s Sprint Cup though, Amy.
Tony: Can you imagine? Steve Kinser would try to make it back.
Kurt: Kenny Brightbill emerges for a NASCAR race!
Tony: But anyways, really there is no great road course for stock cars; they weren’t meant for them the way Indy cars are. But they do test driver skills and that can’t be overlooked.
Mike: Riverside was awesome.
Bryan: Some hold it much better than others. The Glen is a good course for stock cars.
Mike: Yes it is, Bryan.
Tony: Probably more so than Sonoma.
Bryan: Regardless, road ringing isn’t a formula for sure-fire success. For crying out loud, let full-time drivers be full-time drivers!
Tony: It’s good for teams with second-tiered drivers – not necessarily good for the drivers being replaced.
Kurt: If road ringers didn’t help teams, they wouldn’t be there. Someday, a ringer will win one.
Mike: Road-course ringers serve a purpose for keeping borderline Top 35 teams in the points. That’s why you don’t see Chase contenders doing it – and it adds a little excitement to the event.
Matt T.: I sound like I’m on a loop, but I really believe that team owners on the Top-35 bubble have no choice. Tell NASCAR to get rid of the Top-35 rule, and the ringer participation will cut down dramatically.

The latest Silly Season move appears to be Casey Mears to Richard Childress Racing, but a late balk by sponsor General Mills could see Clint Bowyer move to the No. 33 with General Mills while Mears takes over the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s machine. This begs the question: who should have more say, the owner or the sponsor?

Tony: Owners all the way!
Kurt: The owner ought to have the final say; but of course, he has to listen to the sponsor.
Bryan: In a perfect world, all owner. But this is NASCAR.
Matt T.: Should be the owner, but it’s the sponsor’s $25 million that’s helping to pay the driver’s salary.
Tony: But the sponsors need to trust the owner when they sign with them – or they shouldn’t sign with them at all.
Kurt: If I’m shelling out millions as a sponsor, you can bet I’ll want some input.
Amy: I think the owner should have the final say, but you do need to have drivers that fit a sponsor’s image.
Matt T.: Does Mears fit Jack’s image? I don’t see it.
Kurt: No, but Kasey Kahne didn’t fit Budweiser’s image either.

See also
Full Throttle: Kahne

Mike: It’s rare that a driver/sponsor combination is tied into a number, but it is in the case of Bowyer. I don’t understand why General Mills wouldn’t like Mears.
Editor’s Note: Rumor has it General Mills is displeased Mears competed in a car sponsored by a rival company… Kellogg’s.
Matt T.: ‘Cause Mears hasn’t proven to be a contender, although he does look like the General Mills type.
Amy: I just don’t think it’s right to shove Bowyer around like that. Jack Daniel’s was happy with him.
Bryan: I can’t believe Jack Daniel’s would be OK with losing Bowyer for Mears.
Mike: I don’t think Bowyer cares. Have you seen him in a lot of JD ads?
Tony: You may not see him in many ads, but there is a driver/sponsor association that forms over a few years.
Bryan: And Bowyer might not care, Mike, but Mears has done less in five years of Cup racing than Bowyer in his two and a half.
Tony: Agreed, Bryan. Jack Daniel’s has a Chase contender compared to a guy who has underperformed the past two years.
Kurt: I don’t mean to trash Mears – he’s a really nice guy – but how does he keep landing rides?
Amy: Well, McMurray still has a ride, and David Gilliland and Menard… and Mears isn’t any worse.
Matt T.: Crown Royal is the only thing keeping McMurray at Roush. And I’ve been told General Mills could go back to Petty if it’s not happy with the new driver at RCR.
Kurt: I don’t know if they will be happy. I mean, this guy’s had the best equipment in the business for two years. And what has he done?
Amy: No he hasn’t; Mears has had the R&D team for two years, and he had Ganassi crap for three years before that.
Matt T.: Amy, Mark Martin will drive that “R&D car” into the Chase next year, like Kyle did last year.
Amy: Martin might, if Gustafson actually listens to him.
Kurt: Kyle Busch drove for the same team, Amy.
Bryan: Amy, there’s a difference between the “R&D” of Mears this year and Hendrick’s fourth car with Brian Vickers in it.
Mike: Mears looked like he was being held back by equipment at Ganassi, but I don’t think so now that I’ve seen him at Hendrick.
Kurt: Mears also didn’t do as well as McMurray in the No. 42, either.
Tony: Honestly though, if you are a sponsor, are you trying to figure out who is in R&D equipment and who is not? My guess is no. You are looking at who can win and who fits your image. Jack Daniel’s has someone who can win.
Amy: Mears is a sponsor’s dream, though – he actually asks to go out and sign autographs every week.
Bryan: Those autographs aren’t scoring points on track or TV time.
Mike: And I don’t buy that the No. 5 is totally R&D. I agree that the team does always seem to be the worst of the Hendrick teams, but I can’t believe they get crap.
Kurt: Amy does have a point about the autograph thing, though. Thinking about it, I feel bad pointing this out about Mears because he’s a good guy, and maybe that’s why he is getting into rides. He doesn’t burn bridges.
Matt T.: I’m not buying a lot of the RCR rumor stuff, either. I’ll believe some of the wild scenarios when I see them.
Amy: Who is RCR going to get who’s better at this point?
Mike: Austin Dillon will be in the Nationwide Series soon – he’s the future over there. But he needs three or four years before making it to Cup.
Matt T.: They need a one-year stopgap, Amy. Wait for next year’s free agents and put Scott Wimmer in there for ’09. Wimmer will get it done.
Kurt: Yeah, Wimmer does well in decent equipment.
Tony: Yeah, funny how Wimmer has fallen off the radar.
Bryan: The No. 29 in Nationwide in general has fallen off the radar.
Matt T.: Wimmer has a win and nine top 10s in 15 starts in NNS this year. What else do you want? He’s been a loyal soldier. He deserves the shot more so than Mears.
Bryan: I couldn’t agree more.
Tony: I agree with that Matt, he’s done a lot for RCR.
Kurt: Wimmer had a few good runs in the No. 33 for RCR in Cup; that’s certainly enough for a full-time shot.
Amy: Wimmer hasn’t done jack in a Cup car.
Bryan: Wimmer hasn’t had jack for a Cup car, either. Wimmer has had BDR and McClure, Mears has had Ganassi and Hendrick. Do the math.
Matt T.: Right, Bryan. Wimmer just hasn’t been in a good Cup car. He had a great run going at Indy in an RCR car last year when someone dented his fender on pit road.
Mike: Wimmer is as good as McMurray in a Cup car.
Amy: Wimmer’s like McMurray: a good NNS driver, but topped out there.
Matt T.: C’mon, you can’t compare Wimmer with McMurray. Wimmer’s been in BDR and MMM equipment, while McMurray’s been with Roush and HMS!
Amy: Sure you can. That BDR stuff was decent at the time, one year out of winning the Daytona 500.
Matt T.: And he was what, a rookie at the time?
Kurt: Wimmer ran the No. 33 for RCR in 2006 and finished 12th at Homestead. Of course he didn’t do squat in the No. 4. No one did squat in the No. 4.
Bryan: Exactly Kurt, that car chewed up and spit out tons of drivers. And Wimmer ran well on plate tracks with BDR… third in the 500.
Matt T.: McMurray is more marketable. That’s why he continues to have a ride in the Cup Series.
Tony: That’s an unfortunate truth, Matt.
Mike: I know Matt, and that is flat out wrong.
Tony: Mikey… cough cough.
Amy: OK, back to the point. Should General Mills be demanding Bowyer and should Childress allow it? The answer there is “no.” A sponsor has no right to demand a driver that’s contracted to another sponsor.
Bryan: Childress absolutely should not allow it, and I don’t see how Jack Daniel’s will let him do that.
Tony: I think that oversteps boundaries. A sponsor can make recommendations, but not demands.
Kurt: He has to listen. They’re shelling out a lot of moolah. If he wants to do otherwise, he’s got to sell that to the sponsors.
Mike: And if you’re going to write a check to someone for $25 million, you can ask for whatever you want.

Michael McDowell is being replaced at Michigan by Mike Skinner. While this may be a move to test whether the problems with the No. 00 are the car or the driver, it still doesn’t bode well for McDowell. AJ Allmendinger finds himself in a similar situation at Team Red Bull as it seems likely he will be replaced by Scott Speed next year. So, how long is a fair trial for a young driver, and were these two given that?

Bryan: I said it before the season started that McDowell wasn’t ready for a Cup ride; and as for Allmendinger, if he gets kicked out, man, will he have been screwed over. Though I almost hope he does. AJ would get picked up by another team that would actually develop him.
Tony: You absolutely need to give these guys more than one year. McDowell has had some surprisingly good runs and is starting to see these tracks for the second time. He deserves to finish out the year.
Mike: I think Allmendinger has been doing pretty well of late. After they had Skinner in that car, I thought he really came around.
Kurt: How many drivers can you put in an MWR car? McDowell wasn’t great, but who has been? As far as ’Dinger, I think he’s been given a reasonable shot.
Matt T.: Once again, it’s sponsor driven, and yes, I know Red Bull is the owner and sponsor. I’ve been impressed with how far Allmendinger has come. McDowell, well, who could drive that thing to the front?
Mike: Unfortunately for Allmendinger, Speed is tearing it up this year and is going to be a star, so he’s the odd man out. Kind of like Scott Riggs.
Tony: Allmendinger is really coming on strong; he deserves to keep the ride.
Amy: ’Dinger is qualifying every week and outrunning other Toyotas. What the heck else does he have to do? And look at McDowell – do we even know if he’s a good driver or not yet? And he’s out on his ear? I think if you commit to a rookie driver you have to give it a year – a full year – road courses included.
Kurt: No Amy, I agree, you have to give guys some time. But when you’re fighting for survival as MWR is, sometimes you have to make moves. McDowell didn’t help his cause at the Glen, Amy.
Matt T.: Right. Is it a coincidence that McDowell is out after the Watkins Glen incident?
Bryan: I don’t think so.
Kurt: I wouldn’t hire McDowell after Watkins Glen. That was a serious bonehead move.
Amy: So, he can’t drive road courses. Neither can half the Cup regulars. If that was the deciding race, he got shafted.
Kurt: But McDowell was supposed to be a good road racer, wasn’t he?
Tony: McDowell had a bad race at the Glen, obviously, but he got a career-best finish at Sonoma at the time.
Kurt: Skinner could just be getting into the car to qualify it every week.
Bryan: McDowell trying to jump straight from ARCA to Cup just wasn’t the right move to make.
Tony: It wasn’t at all the right move; but Michael Waltrip did commit to McDowell, and he should stick to that commitment for the year.
Matt T.: Again, we need to take into consideration the car McDowell is in. Also, keep in mind that his name is in the rumor mill for other rides, so I don’t think he’ll just get totally forgotten if he’s out at MWR. Maybe it’ll be a blessing.
Bryan: And Allmendinger has done what he has despite no real Nationwide or Truck Series time.
Tony: If Red Bull wants Speed in next year, it better be in a third team.
Bryan: Red Bull has said it won’t sponsor three cars.
Mike: I think Speed has shown an incredible driving talent, and Red Bull doesn’t want to take a chance on him going elsewhere. Although I think he’s pretty dedicated to them.
Bryan: Red Bull is more dedicated to Speed. Remember, he won the Red Bull Driver Challenge a few years back.
Mike: I just think Allmendinger has been doing a good job since he got back in the car and deserves another year.
Bryan: Allmendinger definitely should get another year… that No. 84 is going to be a top-20 car next year at this rate.
Matt T.: The No. 84 is back in the Top 35.
Tony: I don’t think anyone would’ve given ‘Dinger a chance of getting back in the Top 35 when he returned.
Bryan: Look, McDowell and Allmendinger are both unfortunate examples of not getting development time. Speed has gotten a chance to develop, and he’s thriving.
Tony: Exactly Bryan. I don’t know where people got the idea that drivers don’t need development time, but hopefully, they are finally learning their lesson. Speed is going to be a great driver in Cup, Allmendinger is coming on strong and Vickers of course is solid. Red Bull needs to make three teams work.
Kurt: Speed is going to be great, so maybe Red Bull is just doing what they have to do to keep him.
Amy: But he got a chance and ‘Dinger didn’t. That’s not fair at all.
Mike: No, it’s not Amy. But sadly, there isn’t much fair in racing these days.
Matt T.: Fair? Who said anything about this all being fair?
Amy: And ‘Dinger isn’t arrogant like Speed is.
Matt T.: Ahhh, this is personal.
Kurt: Amy, no offense, but weren’t you just saying that Mears deserves to keep his ride? If he hasn’t gotten a fair shake, who has?
Amy: Mears has gotten a fair shake. ‘Dinger, McDowell and some others haven’t.
Bryan: And Speed’s arrogance is debatable. He’s been about as good to the ARCA fans as any driver this season.
Matt T.: I think we need Speed’s attitude in Cup.
Bryan: Speed will be an asset to Cup when he gets there.
Amy: Did you read his interview with Tony Lumbis? Every other word was about how great he is. He made Kyle Busch sound humble.
Tony: Speed may have a bit of arrogance about him, but I agree with Matt, some more “Kyle Buschs” to spice things up will be great.
Amy: Ugh, that’s the last thing we need.
Matt T.: He’s a racecar driver Amy; Speed’s supposed to say those things. That’s how you get in people’s heads.
Kurt: How is Speed arrogant? He seems a little cocky, but that’s not always a bad thing.
Mike: Speed is a breath of fresh air, and I think he’s going to be a force when he gets to Cup.
Tony: He does think NASCAR is easy with a capital “E.” A lot of eyes will be on him, with high expectations.
Kurt: Well, let him go for it then. I think he’ll find it’s not that easy.
Matt T.: Amy, you like cardboard cutouts, don’t you?
Amy: Give me a nice, humble driver any day.
Mike: We don’t need 43 Jeff Burtons out there every week.
Amy: 43 Jeff Burtons would be great on track… he races it hard and clean.
Mike: No, but if you had 43 of them at Bristol we’d run caution free and no one would get bumped.
Matt T.: How much better was the circuit when Tim Richmond, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Geoffrey Bodine and Darrell Waltrip were talking trash and swapping paint? Give me those qualities any day.
Mike: Heck yeah! when Earnhardt and Bodine went at it back in the day it was awesome.
Kurt: Yeah… you have to have that driver you just hate.
Tony: Any sport needs that individual/team that is loathed.
Matt T.: I don’t need to loathe a guy, just be entertained as opposed to the usual sponsor-driven drivel.
Amy: I don’t find acting like an immature ass entertaining though. Sorry.
Matt T.: So you think the guys I just mentioned were immature asses?
Amy: No, but I think Kyle Busch is. I’ll take being a goober and surfing on a golf cart anytime!
Matt T.: I’m sorry for ya, then.
Mike: He was immature for going into victory lane and congratulating Ambrose on a great race, along with every member of his team?
Amy: Kyle Busch shouldn’t be in the same sentence as Earnhardt unless the sentence includes, “will never be on the same plane as…”
Tony: A few more years like this one, and he will start to pop up in the same sentence.
Kurt: Well anyway… we were talking about McDowell and ‘Dinger right? We’re still on that?
Bryan: McDowell and ‘Dinger flat needed to be developed.
Kurt: Guys have to show some promise quickly on struggling teams, especially.
Amy: Rookies deserve a full year, 36 attempts at the very least, before being shown the door.
Matt T.: The “let’s all hold hands and play in a fair world” view is sweet, albeit naïve. I feel for those two – but when you’re race team is hurting for funds and/or results…
Tony: ‘Dinger is pretty much overcoming his lack of development, but it should be McDowell that MWR is sending off to every Nationwide race, not Reutimann.
Mike: ‘Dinger and McDowell should be in their cars until at least the Chase next year. If either of them loses a ride, they are getting the shaft as big as Danny O’Quinn got from Roush.

With a reversal by Kobalt Tools on its bid to sponsor the Truck Series in 2009 and beyond and a growing desire in Detroit to cut spending in racing – and particularly in that series – is finding a title sponsor, or even the series’ existence, in jeopardy?

Matt T.: Bigger problems loom for the CTS in keeping the manufacturers pouring money into the series.
Kurt: I have read… although I can’t yet confirm this… but I heard that the manufacturers want the Truck Series gone. That would be a damn shame if we lost the Truck Series.
Mike: Geez. It’s only the best racing NASCAR offers. I’d rather see the Nationwide Series go away and the Trucks get more love. But unfortunately, I could imagine the opposite scenario happening.
Bryan: If the series can’t find a sponsor, they are going to be in major trouble. Without a title sponsor, the TV contracts get gutted, too.
Amy: I agree. And with gas prices the way they are, people aren’t buying trucks – so it’s not the advertising medium it once was. I think if they can’t find a title sponsor, the series’ future is in question. NASCAR won’t run it indefinitely without one – remember, nothing to pad Brian’s pockets means not long for this world.
Kurt: Craftsman was a perfect sponsor, but they just can’t afford it anymore.
Mike: I don’t see why they can’t afford it. They pay crap for purses.
Tony: NASCAR is probably asking for way too much so they can develop races in Romania or wherever.
Matt T.: NASCAR can run the CTS without a sponsor. It can’t run it without varying makes.
Bryan: You got to remember though, Matt, without a title sponsor guaranteeing ads in every race there is less incentive to televise the races. And without the TV numbers, the Truck Series would be all but gone.
Matt T.: TV numbers?! The CTS is on SPEED!
Kurt: NASCAR took a third of the initial asking price for Nationwide. I wonder if the AT&T/Sprint debacle has anything to do with their title sponsor difficulties.
Amy: Heck, AT&T could probably sponsor that series for less than a Cup team costs.
Matt T.: NASCAR will drop the rates for Craftsman. It won’t have any choice.
Kurt: NASCAR should try running the Truck Series without a sponsor if they have to, but they can get a sponsor if the price is right. The Truck Series is doing well ratings-wise.
Tony: One of the oil companies should step up and sponsor with the money they are making.
Kurt: I’d like to see Craftsman stay. They make good tools. Even AJ Foyt uses them.
Matt T.: Speaking of good tools, never ever buy anything Dura-Built. Made that mistake last weekend.
Mike: Anything with Dura in the name is usually not good, Matt.
Kurt: How about the Dura-Built Truck series?
Mike: Hey, maybe we can be the title sponsor!
Bryan: Hell yeah!
Matt T.: And I’ve heard that companies do get the ad bang for their buck.
Mike: The Frontstretch Truck Series. Has a nice ring to it.
Tony: Hell, maybe Toyota will sponsor the whole damn series and help their own cause.

Predictions for Michigan?

Kurt: Jimmie. The No. 48 team is back.
Amy: I say Greg Biffle finally kicks the luck fairy’s butt.
Tony: Biffle breaks through and solidifies his spot in the Chase.
Mike: Edwards closes the gap a little between himself and Kyle.
Bryan: Edwards puts himself in the same picture as the Nos. 18 and 48.
Matt T.: Chevy sweeps MIS for the first time in… decades, maybe? I’ll take Jimmie.
Mike: Or Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the most laps and Tony Eury screws up a pit call again to cause him to lose the race.

2008 Mirror Prediction Chart

Four of our six experts pulled the silver medal at the Glen, selecting runner-up Tony Stewart as Sunday’s predicted winner. Among those on that list were points leader Bryan Davis Keith and second-place Tony Lumbis, maintaining their 28-point gap in the standings with just 14 races remaining on the season.

But for those who picked Gordon, they could only hope of a trip to the medal stand; and his shocking, 29th-place finish was costly to Amy Henderson, as she now falls nearly 200 points behind the leader. With the end of August fast approaching, she’ll need to turn things around quickly to keep from making our yearly predictions battle a two-horse race down the stretch.

Writer Points Behind Predictions (Starts) Wins Top 5s Top 10s
Bryan Davis Keith 3,116 -0 20 3 12 17
Tony Lumbis 3,088 -28 23 4 8 14
Amy Henderson 2,938 -178 23 1 6 11
Vito Pugliese 2,212 -904 18 0 6 8
Mike Neff 2,114 -1,002 17 0 5 8
Tom Bowles 1,633 -1,483 14 0 3 6
Matt Taliaferro 1,543 -1,573 12 0 4 6
Kurt Smith 1,279 -1,837 11 0 4 6
Tommy Thompson 710 -2,406 6 0 2 3
Beth Lunkenheimer 341 -2,775 3 0 1 1
Danny Peters 190 -2,926 1 1 1 1
Jeff Meyer 94 -3,022 1 0 0 0
Kim DeHaven 0 -3,116 0 0 0 0

About the author

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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