Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Who’s Losing a Date to Kansas, Who’s Already Lost the Chase & Judging Lame Ducks

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:
Tom Bowles (Editor-in-Chief; Mondays/Bowles-Eye View & Wednesdays/Did You Notice?)
Doug Turnbull (Tuesdays/Talking NASCAR TV)
Bryan Davis Keith (Thursdays/Picks ‘N’ Pans & Sundays/Nationwide Series Breakdown)
Amy Henderson (Fridays/Holding a Pretty Wheel)
Kurt Allen Smith (Fridays/Happy Hour)

Given that the finish at Kansas was one of the best of the year, has the track matured to the point it deserves a second date – or was this not good enough? And if an ISC track is to lose a date at Kansas’s expense, which should it be?

Kurt: What we think about whether Kansas should get a second date is irrelevant. It’s going to get one.
Bryan: If Fontana is the track to lose a date, I hope it happens tomorrow.
Doug: The finish was good, but the rest of the race was a yawner. And Bryan, NASCAR isn’t going to axe California’s second date.
Amy: It was a great finish, but the last thing we need is another 1.5-mile track race. Especially since I’m hearing the date will be at the expense of Martinsville.
Tom: See, I disagree Amy. A few laps does not a great race make. The middle sections of Kansas were real boring – not a surprise there – and heck, Chicagoland had a nice two-lap finish too. Why don’t we give that track another race date then? The bottom line is that Kansas isn’t ready, but we know we’re going to get one, because ISC is building a casino there and ISC and NASCAR want more money.
Kurt: A good finish can happen anywhere, but at some places more than others.
Amy: Yeah, places like Martinsville!
Bryan: If Martinsville loses a date, it’s just another example of how far from its roots NASCAR has gone in the year it recommitted to them.
Kurt: Think about this though, guys: Bruton Smith wants a race at Kentucky, so that will be two 1.5-mile races added to the schedule. They won’t both come from Fontana.
Tom: The problem is, these decisions aren’t made based on the quality of racing. They’re made purely on location, location, location – where and how NASCAR can make the most profit. And if these choices keep getting made that way, I fear Martinsville is the track that’s doomed. They’ll make it a one-race wonder, just like Darlington.
Kurt: Agreed, Tom. It’s a business, and there isn’t any pretending otherwise.
Amy: NASCAR is going out of their way to prove that re-addition doesn’t matter. Only progress does.
Doug: Yeah, Martinsville has had attendance problems.
Amy: Martinsville sells out every race. Sometimes not until the week of, but it does.
Kurt: It didn’t sell out this spring, did it?
Amy: Not selling out one race when the economy is worse than bad shouldn’t be the measure, either.
Doug: I thought I saw it at a less-than-capacity crowd a year or two ago.
Tom: I think it’s more than attendance, guys. There’s nothing to… um… do in Martinsville.
Amy: Um, you can watch RACING!
Doug: Good point.
Tom: Oh I know, Amy. I’m not saying I agree with the whole thing. I don’t want Martinsville to go. But it’s all about major markets with NASCAR these days, and let’s face it, Martinsville isn’t one. Remember, Martinsville is not considered a major market. So NASCAR’s prospect for growing the stands, the fanbase, is limited.
Kurt: But Martinsville is too unique, and there aren’t many unique tracks left. It would be a damn shame. I think except for Kevin in SoCal (sorry Kev) everyone in the known universe would rather see Fontana lose a race before anywhere else.
Tom: NASCAR knows they can get away with cutting the track’s dates from two to one – and they will, without hesitation. I mean, I don’t know what other track they’d even consider cutting besides California.
Amy: Actually, I’d like to see both dates come from Talladega, but I know THAT isn’t going to happen.
Doug: ‘Dega is unique, exciting and historical. It should keep its dates, including the one in the Chase. Period.
Amy: I hate Talladega. Hate it.
Doug: I can tell.
Kurt: I would like ‘Dega without the plates.
Bryan: Amen, Kurt.
Kurt: Tom, isn’t TV a factor? How does Martinsville do ratings-wise?
Amy: TV should be a bigger factor than location – how many people watch on TV versus those that actually go.
Kurt: I don’t know that the difference in ratings between tracks is large enough.
Tom: That’s a good point, Kurt. I think that should be one of the factors they consider, but if they did, Kansas wouldn’t even have one date, let alone two. I mean, ESPN’s overnight ratings for the race on Sunday were 3.1. That’s far behind what FOX pulled for Martinsville.
Kurt: This is far-fetched, but maybe alienating Southerners has caused ratings to drop.
Tom: Maybe the Chase and multi-car madness has caused all the ratings to drop. But that’s just me.
Amy: Maybe alienating Southerners is a stretch, but alienating longtime fans isn’t.
Bryan: Maybe the drop in coverage quality from FOX to ESPN/ABC is hurting, too.
Kurt: Back to alienating Southerners. Maybe that has an effect on the ratings that they can’t really quantify, and that’s an intangible Martinsville has. The sport’s most popular driver by far is the guy with the Southern roots.
Amy: Could be, Kurt, though I think it’s more old-school fans in general than just Southerners. But seriously, as much as I hate ‘Dega because I hate wrecking, California is the worst track on the circuit. It should lose the date.
Tom: The key is whether NASCAR is ready to give up on two dates on that 2-mile disaster out West because the other question is, if not Martinsville… where? Let’s list the ISC tracks: California, Daytona, Martinsville, Michigan, Phoenix, Richmond, Talladega. Of those seven, you knock out Daytona, Richmond, Talladega and Phoenix right off the bat (they just expanded to that one). That leaves Michigan, California and Martinsville. I guess Michigan could be a darkhorse, but I don’t see it.
Bryan: With the manufacturer ties up there, MIS isn’t losing a date. But it just drives me nuts to see NASCAR acting stupid like this again. OK, sure, Kansas and Fontana are bigger markets, but outside of those markets the events are largely unpopular. The majority of fans want to see old-school racing, and Martinsville delivers there.
Doug: I wish someone would buy a date from Pocono.
Kurt: I like the idea of two races every weekend that I had some time ago. Two races a week, one in the east, one in the Midwest or West. If the schedule has nothing but 1.5- and 2-milers, what will the racing be like? Seriously, it won’t be about the driver at all.
Amy: The alternative is to bump out the non-points races and add two real ones.
Doug: Well, since they screwed up the Bud Shootout and the All-Star Race has been boring of late, so go ahead!
Kurt: That’s what I mean. We’ll have 34 speedway races and two road courses.
Doug: Even though it is a good track and a home track, I think it is ridiculous for Lowe’s to have three big races.
Tom: Eh, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. The next racetrack you see will be built like Iowa, not Chicagoland.
Amy: But will it get a date?
Tom: Tracks in NYC and Washington – if they ever get built – are going to be built differently. But as NASCAR pulls off this major-market strategy, which again I don’t agree with but you can’t deny it’s happening, the Chicagolands and Kansases of the world are going to win all the dates they want. Kansas City has too many advantages over Martinsville when you don’t consider the quality of racing.
Kurt: Maybe we’ll see some old-style racetrack building, like in baseball.
Doug: I can’t believe that in the same year, 2001, NASCAR would open such similar tracks in Chicagoland and Kansas.
Tom: And trust me, when you’re going from two dates to one, the quality of racing, tradition, all that, is not on the table. Because NASCAR thinks that fans won’t care because we still go there once.
Kurt: I can see Helton saying, “Well, if we don’t consider the quality of the racing…”
Amy: Yeah, if you don’t come for the racing, don’t come. By the way, if Kansas gets another date, do you now have to buy a five-race package?
Kurt: What brought all of this on, anyway? We’re going to lose a race at a classic venue because a friggin’ casino was built? Hell, let’s race in Atlantic City then!
Doug: Or Vegas. Wait, they want a second one, too!
Kurt: Kansas will get another race and it will probably be Martinsville’s. We can’t stop it. Let’s have two separate series: the “intermediate series” and the “short-track series.” See what gets higher ratings.
Amy: NASCAR doesn’t care about the real fans, only the bandwagoneers.
Tom: Here’s the funny thing: we always say NASCAR doesn’t care about the real fans, but if they make a greater profit somewhere else, aren’t the fans giving them that money? What we’re really saying is they don’t care about the traditionalist fans or the quality of racing.
Kurt: That’s too complicated to explain, Tom.
Amy: Half of these new fans will move onto the next “cool” trend when they get bored, anyways. And then where will NASCAR be?
Bryan: Exactly. Plus, those bandwagon fans aren’t going to keep the lower racing divisions going, and then what’s going to feed into the sport?

A couple of lame-duck drivers in the last stages of their contracts had some pretty good runs on Sunday. But is the term lame duck even applicable in a sport that thrives on competition at every turn? Are those drivers still giving 100%, or is it impossible for them to thrive because either they or their team will simply “pack it in?”

Amy: I think some of them are still giving it their all. Casey Mears and AJ Allmendinger showed that on Sunday.
Bryan: Yeah, Allmendinger certainly was.
Tom: I felt so good for Allmendinger on Sunday. He really set out to prove something, and he did.
Kurt: Racing is a team effort, so I don’t know that it’s entirely the driver stepping it up though. It might be the whole team, now that the pressure is off.
Doug: And if a driver does mail it in, a la Jeremy Mayfield, they get canned.
Bryan: I think a lot of it depends on your situation. If you’re someone like Reed Sorenson who’s got a ride for ‘09 wrapped up, no big deal. Allmendinger, on the other hand, is racing for a ride – so you know that he’s going for it.
Kurt: AJ will probably get a ride. The question is whether it will be a quality one.
Tom: And I think his situation was special at Red Bull in that both the team and driver knew this was an owner decision. It had nothing to do with them. But on some teams, it’s not so rosy. By all accounts, it’s a very unhappy marriage at Ganassi, and it’s amazing they’ve done as well as they have since Reed announced he was leaving.
Amy: Then again, I think Tony Stewart packed it in around May.
Tom: Both sides had always got along well at TRB, so why would it change the last few weeks? In situations like Sorenson and the No. 41, I think it’s different.
Kurt: The No. 20 hasn’t been any worse than the No. 24, Amy.
Amy: No, but given what JGR has shown this year, it should be.
Doug: I think, though, that Tony does not want a winless season on his Sprint Cup resume.
Amy: I sort of think Tony really doesn’t want to do anything for Toyota, even at his own expense.
Kurt: Back to Ganassi for a sec; I’ve heard rumblings that Reed lacks dedication. Any truth to that, anyone?
Doug: I’ve only heard that in the same places you have, Kurt, but Reed sure conveys that in his interviews. He seems too comfortable with his high position.
Tom: Kurt, I’ve heard the same thing about Reed. Sounds like a Casey Atwood-type of scenario and it’s heading down that same road.
Amy: I don’t think Sorenson is doing less than before. He wasn’t that good before this either, you know.
Doug: I think we haven’t had a chance to see how good Reed really is because Ganassi has had such bad equipment. The No. 41/01 has sucked for its whole existence.
Amy: Reed’s a really nice kid. I just think he was given too much too soon and doesn’t know what to do with it all.
Kurt: Sorenson did really well in the Busch Series for a while. I thought he’d be really good in Cup. Of all the lame ducks, AJ seems the most enthusiastic about wanting a ride. Good for him.
Amy: He’s the only one who doesn’t HAVE a ride, Kurt.
Kurt: Hmmm. Good point.
Amy: And all this for Scott Speed? Really?
Tom: Amy, Speed will win a race in that car next year. I’m not joking, he’s that good. And I bet you he’ll say so in our diary this Friday.
Amy: He might be that good, but it doesn’t mean I like him. He’s arrogant. I loved watching him gush about how nobody could do any better than him in the TRB F1 car. SURPRISE!
Bryan: Speed definitely took the ARCA Series down a peg or two in his last interview.
Kurt: If Speed comes into Cup all cocky like that, he’ll make Kyle Busch more popular.
Doug: I think the Cup faithful are going to have a hard time adjusting to a guy that paints his toenails.
Bryan: Speed’s going to have his hands full running Cup. He’s never driven mid-pack equipment in stock cars. Reportedly he sometimes carries a manpurse, too.
Kurt: Does he like Gone With The Wind?
Doug: This is turning into an US Weekly column really quickly.
Kurt: Racing, Lies and Scandal!
Doug: …and Toe Nails! Back on track, I think Patrick Carpentier has everything to lose by mailing it in. He is rideless, too.
Bryan: Carpentier sounds like he’s headed to the Nationwide Series for 2009. Good move on his part.
Kurt: Carpentier might be better off in Nationwide for a season.
Amy: Anyway, as far as the lame-duck drivers, I think it’s about half and half. ‘Dinger’s giving his all because he needs a job; Mears is because he’s Mears.
Kurt: But what’s available out there?
Doug: AJ will have Reed’s old job.
Tom: I think the whole Mears situation is commendable because he already has a ride, there’s already a replacement there, and he’s just trying to do the best he can at Hendrick.
Amy: Casey is such a good guy.
Bryan: As for Allmendinger, he’s a former open-wheeler. Chip Ganassi will be all over him.
Tom: I don’t know if that seat’s going to be open, Bryan. We’ll see what happens with that team. I do know it looks like a two-man race between Allmendinger and Mayfield.
Bryan: Mayfield and Juan Pablo Montoya would be an interesting mix.
Amy: Ugh, not Mayfield, please not Mayfield. Talk about overrated.
Kurt: I’m surprised they didn’t get Mayfield for the No. 12 again.
Bryan: I have a hard time seeing Mayfield at CGR. With his bad track record with owners, putting him with a loud owner like Sabates doesn’t seem to make sense.
Doug: Mayfield burned too many bridges to get a good ride. He couldn’t even stay in the No. 70.
Kurt: He didn’t give 110% at Evernham, and that’s in the contract there. “Diligent effort” required.
Doug: Mayfield needs to go run a truck or Nationwide car and build his street cred there.
Tom: Mayfield’s going to get a ride, guys. It’s gonna happen. Seriously, you’re going to pick a C-level driver over a guy that has two Chase appearances to his name? I know the personality is a problem, but the guy has proven he can drive.
Amy: He could drive five years ago. Sort of. In really really good equipment.
Doug: Forget overrated. Who goes and airs his boss’s dirty laundry like that? Mayfield may have had a point, but Evernham took him to the Chase twice.
Tom: Ummm, I disagree with that. Since Mayfield left the team in ’06, that No. 19 hasn’t done jack.
Doug: The rest of GEM hasn’t either. Kasey Kahne won six races in ’06 and has won two since.
Kurt: Since Mayfield left, most all of Evernham hasn’t done all that much.
Amy: Another one out at the end of the year is Mark Martin, but he hasn’t been mailing it in either. And Ryan Newman… well, who knows – his luck is so bad you can’t tell.
Bryan: Newman’s cars flat suck.
Kurt: I think maybe whole teams step it up for their last few races together. You’d have to be in the garage to see how that works, but I don’t think too many of them mail it in at this level.
Bryan: Case-by-case is the only way to analyze lame-duck drivers.
Kurt: With this car being what it is, anyone’s capable of a good run on a given week. This was probably just a coincidence for Casey and AJ. That said, I’m happy for ‘Dinger.
Tom: I hope the ‘Dinger doesn’t go back to open wheel. He could be very successful, I’m sure, but NASCAR is where he should stay. He’s a great new talent.
Amy: I agree. He’s a nice guy and can drive.
Bryan: It will be a big loss for NASCAR to lose Allmendinger.
Kurt: Not as much as losing a race at Martinsville would be.

Three races into the Chase, there are three drivers within 100 points of first and nine within less than 200. However, all three of Gibbs’s teams sit over 240 points behind the leader with seven races to go. Are they still in it with the great equalizer at Talladega this week, or have the list of contenders been dropped from 12 to nine?

Kurt: Ask me after Talladega.
Amy: If the top five wad it up at ‘Dega and they finish 1-2-3, maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Bryan: Depends on who gets taken out when Jimmie Johnson causes his inevitable Big One on Sunday.
Kurt: Man, Bryan; Jimmie will never shake that, will he?
Amy: Jimmie hasn’t caused a wreck at ‘Dega in three years. Maybe four.
Kurt: Seriously, save for Busch (!) no one is out of it yet.
Tom: I think the Joe Gibbs Racing collapse, years from now, will be looked at as one of the greatest collapses in NASCAR history. All three of their teams are done.

See also
Bowles-Eye View: Time for Joe Gibbs Racing to Fight - Not Fold - Through Its Dark Nightmare

Kurt: I don’t think so, Tom. There are still seven races to go yet. They could still have some great runs. They’re certainly capable of it.
Doug: Kyle, Stewart and Denny Hamlin can still technically win it, but they have to beat the nine other best teams in Cup.
Bryan: It just goes to show you how you really can’t go a season without hitting a slump.
Amy: For one of them to win it, nine guys have to have at least two very bad weeks.
Kurt: Which is certainly possible, Amy.
Amy: But all nine of them? Me becoming Jeff Gordon‘s crew chief is possible, Kurt, and about as likely as nine guys all having that many bad races.
Tom: Amy, that’s not going to happen, not just because of the slim possibility of all that, but because of the way the team handles this whole thing.
Doug: I really thought there was no way that Busch would lose. I swore up and down he would not hit a slump – and he isn’t even leading the classic points system anymore!
Kurt: At Talladega, Martinsville and Lowe’s, a lot can happen.
Bryan: For JGR’s guys to have a chance, they have to win every race for the duration pretty much; and let’s face it, they’re no longer leaps and bounds ahead of the field.
Kurt: I’m refraining from bitching about the Chase… mmmff mmmffmm mmmff.
Tom: As I wrote about Monday, right now is when we find out about the true character at JGR. And everyone’s acting like the sky is falling. They’re not making the best of it. They’re pouting, prissy and downright pissed off, which isn’t going to get them back in it.
Kurt: Jeez, Tom, JGR’s character hasn’t been proven yet? See, I disagree. I think if anyone can handle guys with bad attitudes, it’s Joe Gibbs.
Amy: Part of that IS attitude. Busch thinks he’s done, so he is.
Doug: I agree with you, Tom. All three drivers put their front door step out when things go wrong, and that doesn’t win you races.
Tom: Yeah, well Kurt here’s the thing: it’s got to be handled this week. Did you see how they all looked after Kansas? Stewart left without comment, and now that he’s out of title contention he’s got every right to just pack it in. Hamlin looks like a cross between Eeyore and an entitled rich kid and Busch is boiling over with anger. He just doesn’t know where to aim it.
Kurt: Well Tom, they’re not going to be jumping up and down. None of them will win it, but any of them could snag a win or two the rest of the way.
Tom: No Kurt, I don’t expect that. But look at Kenseth, in contrast. He wrecks at Loudon, he’s likely out of the title Chase, but he’s like, “Aw shucks, let’s just go out there and try to win.” And you know what? He’s kicked butt the last two weeks.
Bryan: JGR as a whole honestly seems to have gotten complacent going into the Chase.
Tom: Hamlin after the race on Sunday was like, “We don’t have what we need to win the championship.” Umm, Denny, you’re OUT of the championship. You need to focus on top-five finishes. Screw the points.
Kurt: Denny finished 11th this week, right?
Doug: That is what he said after he blew an engine a few weeks ago, too. He is quite fickle.
Kurt: Hamlin might be trying that reverse-jinx.
Bryan: If Hamlin’s complaining his cars aren’t good enough, he’s done for his career. He’s got the best equipment any driver could ask for.
Tom: They need to get over the fact that they no longer control their destiny for the title, Kurt. That’s what it is, and right now they’re still cranky about the fact they lost the chance to control their own destiny. And it’s killing them.
Kurt: Well that’s true Tom, but no one does really, do they? I see a lot of guys get down after a bad race. They have to race next week no matter what, so I don’t know how much difference their attitude is gonna make. Especially with Kyle, none of the problems have been his fault.
Bryan: Maybe if JGR wasn’t so concerned about purse snatching in the Nationwide Series, they’d be doing better in the Chase. Seriously though, they’re done until they accept the fact that the rest of the field caught up.
Amy: Again, attitude. There’s a lot to be said for believing in yourself and your team. Look at the No. 48 two years ago: 156 down after ‘Dega but never ever gave up, never said they were out of it. Attitude is everything. Attitude made a big difference for both Kurt Busch (much as I hate to say it) and Johnson.
Tom: I think we’ll agree to disagree on this one, Kurt. What I will say is as far as fourth through ninth place, they NEED to gain ground on the top three this weekend. If Johnson, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards finish in the top five again (or if two of them do), I think it’s smooth sailing the rest of the way.
Kurt: Well it’s mostly coming down to who doesn’t have a bad week.
Tom: What I find so interesting is that once again, the Chase mirrors what the real points standings would be like. It would be Edwards and Johnson battling it out, just like in the new system. And thank God. I hate when we have a Chase champion that wouldn’t have won under the old system.
Amy: Once again? It’s only worked that way twice, Tom.
Kurt: Tom, it’s the same except that Kyle Busch is 12th instead of third!

Camping World is the new hotly rumored company to become the title sponsor of the Craftsman Truck Series. If it’s approved, NASCAR says they will be allowed to still fund both a Nationwide and Truck series team owned by Kevin Harvick. Is that a fair deal, or is a series sponsor helping out an individual organization a conflict of interest?

Amy: Of course that’s a conflict of interest, but it’s not exactly unprecedented.
Doug: Two Words: Jimmy Spencer. Winston sponsored his No. 23 for a while. It’s not like Camping World is going to throw the championship in favor of KHI.
Kurt: I don’t see the problem, unless there are some questionable rule changes. We see every week sponsors of cars sponsoring the race, and no great damage is done there. Personally, I’m just glad we’ll have a Truck Series.
Bryan: No problem with it given the state of the economy. Honestly, I applaud NASCAR for allowing them to move forward.
Amy: As long as NASCAR doesn’t start making questionable calls in their favor, it’s really not that bad.
Doug: And NASCAR should welcome anyone to spend as much money as they want, considering the economy. Does Toyota ring a bell?
Kurt: But Harvick sped down pit road at 120 mph! How did the official miss that?
Tom: I’m torn on the whole thing. Yeah, Winston sponsored Spencer back in the day, but he wasn’t a championship car. But can you imagine the conspiracy theories in play if a new driver took over Harvick’s truck and won the title with the series sponsor on the hood? This is not a scrub car that’s running 20th. This is the series champ.
Kurt: I don’t think it would be a problem, Tom, unless something was blatant. And it’s a big loss losing Craftsman, so they gotta do what they can to get a viable sponsor.
Doug: Camping World has money to spend. Let them spend it. I like that they sponsor KHI and Robby Gordon and buy tons of other NASCAR advertising.
Bryan: NASCAR isn’t going to allow them to play unfair in the trucks. That’d tick off Toyota too much. And let’s face it, Toyota dollars trump those of Camping World.
Tom: Not sure about that, Bryan. If Toyota dollars trumped all, there’d be no need for NASCAR to go searching for a title sponsor.
Kurt: And the fact that all of the teams need sponsors is always going to create a potential conflict of interest.
Doug: I hate how title sponsors do not let other companies sponsor cars that aren’t grandfathered in, though.
Bryan: Agreed Doug. Mike Wallace‘s situation is deplorable. And Tom, Toyota is widely involved across NASCAR in general. If it starts getting dealt a rough hand in one series because of a title sponsor, all it has to do is pull it somewhere else.
Kurt: I totally agree, Doug. That was a big mess with Sprint and AT&T last year.
Doug: And so was Jeff Burton‘s until Caterpillar decided to leave BDR.
Kurt: Made me root for Burton every week.
Doug: What’s funny, is AT&T bought out Cingular just like Sprint bought out Nextel – and then changed the name!
Amy: It was in the agreement they couldn’t change. Sprint could.
Doug: I know, but that is crap.
Kurt: Cost hundreds of millions in lawsuits too. Really made Sprint look bad.
Doug: Well, Sprint is losing the kharma battle, now.
Kurt: Who will sponsor the Nos. 12 and 22 next year?
Bryan: Alltel is back on the No. 12 for ‘09 I’m pretty sure. The No. 22 is in trouble.
Doug: BDR has got to be sweating bullets.
Tom: BDR is simply up for sale to the highest bidder, Doug. That’s pretty much the deal with that. No less than four groups have been trying to buy it for the past year.
Doug: I’ve got $20 and a guitar. Will they take that?
Kurt: NASCAR has to be very careful with rules enforcement, but I think they’ll be alright.
Bryan: I don’t think it’s going to be an issue at all.
Amy: I agree, Kurt. It’s a conflict of interest, but it’s been done before. My question is, in this economy, how is Camping World doing well enough to fork over these bucks? Not like many folks can afford an RV these days.
Bryan: I was wondering the same thing, Amy.

Predictions for Talladega?

Kurt: I say Jimmie takes another one. And there will be a big wreck and someone’s title hopes will be finished.
Tom: I’m going to go off the beaten path and say David Ragan. He’s proven himself to be a good plate racer and this track has a habit of making first-time winners out of people.
Amy: I say Jeff Gordon makes it 15 straight years.
Doug: Why not? Johnson might as well continue the tradition of winning consecutive races and leading the points. He’s my pick. I think Kyle Busch will be up near the front in this one, though. He has won the last two plate races and has a big, sugary, M&M’s chip on his shoulder now.
Bryan: I’m jumping on the Hendrick bandwagon, but with a third guy. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s going to make his sponsor proud on Sunday.
Tom: I also think Johnson and Edwards make it through the Talladega madness… while Biffle gets caught up in it.
Bryan: Tom, if I wasn’t in a points chase I’d go on a Ragan limb, too.

2008 Mirror Prediction Chart

Writer Points Behind Predictions (Starts) Wins Top 5s Top 10s
Bryan Davis Keith 3,912 -0 25 5 14 21
Amy Henderson 3,911 -1 29 2 11 16
Tony Lumbis 3,520 -392 26 4 9 16
Vito Pugliese 2,704 -1,208 21 2 8 12
Mike Neff 2,418 -1,494 19 1 6 9
Matt Taliaferro 1,940 -1,972 15 0 4 8
Tom Bowles 1,667 -2,245 15 0 3 6
Kurt Smith 1,562 -2,350 14 0 4 6
Tommy Thompson 710 -3,202 6 0 2 3
Beth Lunkenheimer 341 -3,571 3 0 1 1
Danny Peters 190 -3,722 1 1 1 1
Ren Jonsin 155 -3,757 1 0 0 1
Jeff Meyer 94 -3,818 1 0 0 0

About the author

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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