Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Inverting the Field, Road Racing at Indy & Gauging Roush’s Future

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:
Beth Lunkenheimer (Tuesdays/Running Your Mouth & Various/Frontstretch Truck Series Reporter)
Mike Neff (Wednesdays/Power Rankings & Wednesdays/Full Throttle)
Jeff Meyer (Wednesdays/Top 10 & Thursdays/Voices From the Heartland)
Bryan Davis Keith (Thursdays/Picks ‘N’ Pans & Sundays/Nationwide Series Breakdown)
Amy Henderson (Fridays/Holding a Pretty Wheel)
Kurt Allen Smith (Fridays/Happy Hour)

Many fans cried foul after a speeding penalty cost Juan Pablo Montoya the lead late at Indy, though NASCAR’s data shows that Montoya was clearly too fast at two pit road markers. What does the sanctioning body have to do to regain credibility with the fans?

Kurt: Be consistent.
Mike N.: I don’t know about with the fans, but it would be nice if they would post the times on the scoring monitor in the pit lane like they do with the lap times. If they could post those times on the scoring monitor, it would put everyone at ease.
Amy: I think it was the timing that made it seem contrived.
Jeff: NASCAR doesn’t need to do anything. Speeding is speeding.
Kurt: That will happen, and blown calls will happen.
Beth: I agree with Kurt. The most important thing is that they have to be consistent.
Amy: Unpopular driver leading, sentimental favorite in second but can’t do a thing with him.
Jeff: Are you saying it was contrived, Amy?
Amy: No, I’m saying it’s easy to see why some people think it was contrived.

See also
Voice of Vito: Looking Back at the Brickyard: Clichés, Controversy and a Questionable Call

Beth: But in all honesty, JPM was caught speeding. The penalty for that is in black and white.
Amy: I agree with Mike in that I’d like to see the speed list on TV when someone is caught.
Bryan: The speeds can and should be visible to the fans. NASCAR needs to reign in the Jeremy Mayfield situation, too.
Jeff: Huh? Next thing you know, you’ll ask for it to be televised when Mayfield does his drug tests.
Beth: It certainly would help fans to see that there really was a violation. If they don’t see the speeds they were busted for, then of course it’s easy to assume NASCAR has an agenda.
Mike N.: Well, they can say it was contrived, but the bottom line is, Montoya’s time on pit lane, from one end to the other, was half a second faster than anyone else posted all day according to what I’ve heard.
Kurt: And I’m sure NASCAR would have loved a Montoya win. In terms of ratings, it would have helped more than a Jimmie Johnson win, and that’s not meant to be a dig at Johnson.
Bryan: Yeah, a Montoya win would have been great press for NASCAR.
Amy: I don’t think NASCAR would have loved a Montoya win as much as a Mark Martin win, but that’s another story entirely. I think the bigger issue is that NASCAR needs to have some level of transparency to regain credibility with fans.
Bryan: Exactly Amy. I’m not going to scream conspiracy here either, but at least show a gesture that you’re being open about the calls.
Kurt: I think in terms of officiating, all of the sports have problems with credibility. Certainly the NFL does.
Mike N.: They show every other time online for the fans – practice, qualifying, lap times. I would think it would be relatively easy to push the feed through from the pit-lane monitors.
Jeff: I don’t really consider the speeding issue a credibility issue. After all, timing cars on pit lane ain’t that hard. NASCAR can surely do that right.
Amy: NASCAR could do several easy things to help their case. Start with making the rules clear and available to anyone who wants to spring $5.99 for a copy. They love revenue… no idea why they don’t sell rulebooks.
Bryan: The argument isn’t whether or not NASCAR is doing something wrong with speeding penalties, it’s how they can get credibility back. Transparency can and will help that case.
Mike N.: The thing is, all of the competitors were happy when NASCAR went to electronic timing. Now they bitch when they get caught. And I believe there were only three speeding penalties all day, so I don’t believe it was a computer issue.
Amy: We don’t need to see replays after replays, but to see the actual pit-road speeds at the time of the incident would be nice.
Kurt: Their credibility problem is partly related to that, but more often it’s the inconsistency. I would be OK with that and I was really pulling for Juan, but this happens.
Amy: It’s not about speeding or whether Montoya did, just like it’s no longer about whether Mayfield did meth. It’s about NASCAR’s credibility, and they need to start with transparency surrounding the rules and penalties.
Kurt: If they put the speed on the screen, a lot more drivers would probably have to be called for it. From what I understand, it’s just like a real speed limit: if they’re within a mile or two, it’s often let go.
Mike N.: Well, even if they popped up the speeding time on the screen, that wouldn’t be transparency. But if they had a monitor somewhere that showed everyone’s times, then it would be as transparent as they could be.
Bryan: That’s all I’m asking for, Mike.
Jeff: Their credibility problems have to do with not having independent officials. That would be the biggest step, as I’ve been saying for years.
Mike N.: How do you have independent officials?
Amy: Other major sports have independent officials.
Kurt: Who’s to say there’s a problem here, though? If we don’t know the speed, how can we know if there’s favoritism going on?
Amy: Perhaps its time to come up with an exact speedometer technology in the cars. .06 is not going to show on the tach.
Kurt: I agree with Amy. Put speedometers in the cars.
Mike N.: How are you going to show thousandths on a speedometer?
Amy: Digital.
Kurt: I doubt any driver’s foot is that precise.
Mike N.: And the time is the average time in the segment, not at an exact moment. And you can’t use digital gauges becuase they are too easy to cheat with.
Jeff: And how do you match the in-car speedometer with NASCAR’s timers? There would still be arguments.
Kurt: If you have a speedometer and stay under segments it won’t matter.
Mike N.: But if you’re way under at the beginning of the segment, you can be over at the end. So it is the average Kurt, and drivers will always push it. Even if it is so stupid it costs you the Brickyard 400.
Bryan: The tachs weren’t the problem on Sunday. Montoya wasn’t even close – he messed up, and of course he’s going to deny it, because he let the Brickyard slip away.
Beth: And it happens. People make mistakes. Honestly I think we’re making a big deal over nothing. Many many drivers have been busted for speeding on pit road and we didn’t talk this much about it.
Kurt: It happened to happen at the worst moment for Montoya, but I don’t see it as damaging credibility. If it happened every week it would be different.
Amy: Here’s the bottom line: NASCAR looks bad because they don’t show the speeds at the time of the violation. They guard the rules and consequences like a jealous lover.
Beth: Why do they look bad today? Why hasn’t this been an issue in years past? Why now all of a sudden?
Amy: The shroud of secrecy gives the appearance of impropriety even if there is none.
Jeff: I think you are taking the ‘shroud’ thing a bit too far Amy.
Mike N.: The problem now, Beth, is that a ton of fans are saying that NASCAR penalized him because he was kicking everyone’s ass, not because he sped. NASCAR does a good job of timing the cars on pit lane. It would be nice to see the times but the bottom line is, now that it is electronically scored, there are no gray areas.
Jeff: I didn’t have a problem at all with it and I don’t think NASCAR looked bad.
Kurt: Every sport blows calls. All of them. Flyers lost a Stanley Cup to a blown call. It happens. I don’t even know that this was a blown call, but it happens.
Bryan: There wasn’t a blown call on Sunday; Montoya screwed up. Still no reason for NASCAR not to make the speeds public in some capacity, though.
Beth: It’s all electronic, period. Montoya drove too fast. It happens.
Amy: I don’t think it was a blown call but it looks fishy when NASCAR won’t tell anyone how fast he was going and tells the car owner he’s free to see the timing sheets – after the race.
Mike N.: They told us in the media center how fast he was going. In fact NASCAR told everyone how fast he was going.
Beth: So why the big fuss?
Mike N.: Because fans are being ridiculous and trying to say NASCAR tried to fix the race.
Kurt: The people at home didn’t see that, they only heard that it was only slightly over.
Amy: It was that combined with the timing, Beth – wildly unpopular driver with an owner NASCAR has never liked vs. the sentimental favorite. It does look fishy when NASCAR won’t come out and show the speed sheet.
Jeff: NASCAR has never like who? Ganassi?
Amy: Sabates.
Mike N.: Or at least take it away from Montoya to give it to a Hendrick driver.
Kurt: How is he a wildly unpopular driver?
Amy: A lot of people don’t like Montoya. A lot.
Beth: Montoya is far from wildly unpopular.
Bryan: He’s nowhere near as unpopular as he used to be. And again, the press for Montoya’s win would have been great.
Kurt: Kyle Busch he ain’t.
Beth: A lot of people don’t like Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Johnson, Kyle Busch… I could keep going.
Mike N.: Exactly, Beth.
Kurt: He’d have to win more for people to hate him.
Amy: But a lot of the good ol’ boys don’t like him cause he’s one o’ them forriners.
Mike N.: I just can’t believe that fans were saying that NASCAR would take the win from Montoya and give it to a Hendrick driver. That seems like the most illogical thing they could possibly do
Jeff: Amen. And NASCAR would never do anything illogical…

It’s been suggested that the Sprint Cup Series should perhaps race on the road course, not the oval, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Is that the best route to take given the quality of racing at the Brickyard?

Jeff: And Montoya gets caught speeding in the pits on the road course. Man, those helicopters are low!
Mike N.: No. Racing at Indy is racing at Indy, as Stewart said in the post-race press conference. The stock cars have the closest racing of any series that runs at the track.
Kurt: What we think is irrelevant. That will never happen.
Amy: I’ve never seen how the road course races, so it’s hard to say. But we need one in the Chase.
Bryan: Yes, put them on the road course. I don’t care about the history of IMS when my Sunday race turns into a single-file parade.
Beth: I wouldn’t mind another road course on the schedule, but racing on the oval is one tradition we’ve gotten to keep so far. We don’t need NASCAR taking that one away from us too.
Amy: It’s not a tradition, Beth, it hasn’t been around long enough to be a tradition. The Indianapolis 500 is a tradition. Stock cars at Indy are about as exciting as the cement setting competition.
Beth: Long enough for me.
Kurt: But imagine if we went from the oval to road course racing that no one likes.
Mike N.: If you look at the racing and realize that the drivers really have to think and plan out a strategy to pass people it is actually very interesting racing. They’re more exciting than the IRL cars or the F1 cars.

See also
Full Throttle: Back Home Again, in Indiana

Beth: Exactly, Mike.
Bryan: But no one likes the racing we saw this weekend. The 120,000 empty seats spoke to that.
Kurt: I think a lot of the empty seats were because of last year.
Beth: And I didn’t like seeing that go away. The point is, they should leave the Cup cars on the oval.
Kurt: I would like to see what it’s like in maybe the Nationwide Series, but I don’t know about Cup.
Amy: This is NASCAR longing to fit in where it does not.
Bryan: It was a snoozer on Sunday. It truly took effort to stay awake until the last 15-20 laps.
Mike N.: I guarantee the empty seats were because of last year, the economy and the racing in the series in general. I did talk to someone who told me that the ticket sales on Thursday, Friday and Saturday were the highest for the three days before the race in the history of the 400.
Bryan: And still, barely 60% full based on a generous attendance estimate.
Mike N.: 60% full and still bigger than any other crowd at any track all season. Indy is still the biggest race in terms of attendance on the schedule.
Bryan: It didn’t beat the 500, Mike, based on the official announcement of 180,000. Bonkowski estimated it was closer to 150,000… less than Daytona.
Mike N.: How many seats does Daytona have? 180,000?
Bryan: 160-190.
Beth: 168,000 according to the track info on nascar.com.
Mike N.: And there were at least 30,000 empty seats for the 500.
Bryan: The 500 sold out, even if the seats weren’t all full. And I don’t care if 300,000 people showed for the Brickyard, it was a 400-mile nap on Sunday. Indy has tradition, but not in stock cars. There’s just no reason not to race at Indy on a different configuration.
Mike N.: But it still draws more fans than the 500. Although if Daytona was truly sold out, then it is a real close race because I’d say there were 170,000 at Indy.
Jeff: It’s that NASCAR credibility issue again: padding the ticket sales numbers. They should have a running counter for all the fans to see! If Mickey D’s can do it for burgers, NASCAR can do it for ticket sales. It’d go a long way to establish their credibility.
Kurt: Except for the fact that people would say, “What the hell are they doing?” Look, no offense, but why would this question even be asked? NASCAR would never even consider this idea.
Jeff: Yeah, who brought up the idea anyway? Mike Mulhern? The only reason I would go to Indy is because it is Indy. And even then, I would go to the Indy 500, not a stock car race. They make way to much hype out of it. I wouldn’t waste my money on the Cup race at Indy.
Bryan: Me neither. I’d spend the same money to get primo seats at ORP for the weekend and eat steaks doing it.
Mike N.: And no one in their right mind has ever thought the racing would be any better than it is at Indy, because it is what it is and it always has been.
Kurt: The race was as single file as any Indy car race. That’s why I can’t watch Indy car racing. Hardly any passing. I’d like to see it just out of curiosity.
Bryan: So why not keep the cars at Indy and run them on a road course where a pass or two might actually happen?
Mike N.: A pass or two did happen during the race. There were a lot of passes, just not for the lead on the track.
Jeff: If I could go to only one race a year it would be the Bristol night race – and even then, the world does not stop when I don’t go.
Mike N.: If I could only go to one race a year it would be the All-Star Race.
Kurt: I think the reason Indy and Pocono and road curses aren’t people’s favorites is because stock cars need banking. Changing Indy to the road course won’t help that.
Mike N.: I have no desire to see the stock cars on Indy’s road course. I don’t think the design of that course would work well, although it would be fun to watch them slow down going into turn 1 after that long straight.
Bryan: The design of this current oval doesn’t work well, either.
Kurt: It doesn’t matter to me. They can keep it the way it is as long as the tires work. Someday everyone will figure out how to pass.
Mike N.: Someday they’ll finally cut the front air dams off of these things they call stock cars.
Bryan: Well, if they took the damned splitter and front valence off the cars at longer tracks like Carl Edwards suggested it’d be a moot point.
Amy: All of which begs the question of whether NASCAR needs to be in Indy? Daytona is our Indy.
Kurt: It’s a historic venue, I get why they’re there. Why wouldn’t they be?
Amy: But it’s not NASCAR’s history, Kurt.
Mike N.: Indianapolis is the most famous racetrack in the world and NASCAR is the biggest racing series in the world. So it should race there.
Amy: Why don’t Indy cars race Darlington?
Mike N.: Because Darlington hasn’t asked them.
Beth: So what! We’ve all been complaining about Brian France coming in and making change after change after change. Can’t we just leave something alone for once?
Bryan: Beth, this isn’t some longstanding staple of the sport like the Southern 500 we’re talking about.
Kurt: I agree, Beth. The racing at Indy hasn’t been great, but it’s better than at some other venues.
Jeff: Like…?
Amy: California. Again, the schedule should be about the quality of the racing, nothing else.
Bryan: Precisely, Amy. NASCAR’s history is not Indy’s history and I hate having to sit through races like Sunday’s just because “we have to be there.”
Beth: If we’re going to start talking about taking this race away, then we need to think about taking a race from California first. And for that matter, Texas really doesn’t need a second race, either.
Mike N.: If the schedule is about the quality of racing then we should dump a Bristol race because the races have sucked there the last three years.
Kurt: We could go on and on about that. The Chase is responsible for that, Mike.
Mike N.: No, points racing is to blame. Until you put a huge premium on winning, it will continue to suck.
Bryan: Yeah, Bristol sucks because of the Chase. Alter the schedule and Bristol’s back to its old self.
Jeff: Wow. We all know how much I love California, but really, I can’t say that race is worse than Indy.
Bryan: Me neither, Jeff. What we saw at Indy gives Fontana good company.
Amy: Exactly, and almost every Indy race has been that way – the track just wasn’t meant for stock cars.
Kurt: Fontana is no worse than Michigan or Texas.
Bryan: Fontana is worse than both of those tracks.
Mike N.: Y’all still aren’t getting it. Being at Indy isn’t about the racing, it’s about being on the most famous racetrack in the world.
Bryan: Maybe not Mike, but the millions of us who can’t get to Gasoline Alley don’t get a damned thing out of hearing how cool it is to be there while the drivers follow the leader for hours.
Mike N.: But are you going to go there sometime Bryan? NASCAR is the biggest motorsports body in the world, and for that reason it needs to race there.
Bryan: For the kind of money I’d have to spend I’d go for the 500 before the 400.
Kurt: If I were making the schedule, Indy would be on it.
Beth: Drivers following the leader isn’t just a problem at Indy, it has certainly been a problem at most tracks with this car.
Amy: That’s the problem, Mike. It isn’t about the racing, it’s about trying to prove stock cars are as classy as open wheelers and about trying to shed the Southern redneck image… not about racing.
Kurt: NASCAR has done worse in the name of shedding the redneck.
Mike N.: No, Amy, it isn’t about making them as classy as open wheelers because they’re a completely different animal.
Amy: I agree with Bryan. I’ll be there in May long before I’ll be there in August.
Bryan: Again, look at how kick-ass the ORP show was – and we followed that up with another sorry excuse for a race in the Allstate 400.
Mike N.: I’ll go there any time I can and enjoy feeling the hairs stand up on my body as I drive in through the gate or just look around that immense place.
Amy: Then there is no reason to “have” to race Indy. Make your own tracks and history and traditions the main attraction, not trying to fit in with someone else’s.
Kurt: I get your point Amy, but it’s Indianapolis. There are worse tracks on the schedule in my opinion (Chicago).
Beth: I agree Kurt. And frankly I think they should just leave them alone. There are so many other places that should be facing the loss of a race.
Jeff: I wouldn’t waste my money on an Indy stock car race.
Amy: Indianapolis is hallowed ground… to open-wheel drivers. We have Daytona and Darlington, tracks built on our own tradition for our own tradition.
Bryan: NASCAR is struggling. They need to get the racing in order and Indianapolis’s oval can’t put a good stock car race on. NASCAR has Daytona as our hallowed ground.
Mike N.: Indianapolis is the coolest place in the world and NASCAR should be there, even if one driver leads all 160 laps and not a single car is passed. Being there is an incredible experience and until you experience it, you can’t give an informed opinion.
Kurt: Well then they need to get more downforce on the car, because it isn’t just the track.
Jeff: And the same goes for you that haven’t been to Bristol.
Mike N.: And the drivers themselves will tell you the racing there isn’t very good.
Bryan: Then why the hell should I watch?
Jeff: At Bristol?
Mike N.: Yes, at Bristol. If you want the best racing on the schedule it is at Richmond.
Jeff: You need to be drug tested.
Amy: It used to be, a Southern 500 trophy meant as much as a Brickyard trophy. THAT is what NASCAR should be striving for.
Bryan: Amy is on fire tonight.

After winning Saturday night, Edwards suggested that to make races more exciting, they should invert the field and put the fastest guys in the back. Would putting Cup regulars in the back of the field for every Nationwide race they run give the series a boost while evening out the advantage they usually have over Nationwide regulars?

Kurt: Aye caramba. What a strange idea. And it isn’t the answer.
Bryan: Putting the Cup guys in the back didn’t put them at much of a disadvantage on Saturday.
Amy: Yeah, that would be really great for the real Nationwide teams who fought their way into the top 10.
Bryan: But before getting into a drab NNS discussion, lets not forget how freaking awesome Saturday’s race was.
Amy: Both ORP races were great.
Mike N.: It would make the races interesting, but I don’t think that’s going to really make a difference in their advantage. The only thing that it might do is cause them to get caught in some more wrecks than they are when they start out front.
Kurt: It’s not gonna happen and it really wouldn’t be right.
Amy: If they weren’t there feeding their egos every week, we wouldn’t need to discuss this.
Kurt: But they are and so we are, and putting them in the back isn’t the answer.
Beth: They’re racing… give them a break Amy.
Amy: They’re buying races, Beth. They aren’t racing.
Bryan: The problem isn’t the way the Cup guys play the rules on track, it’s that they have cars 10 times better. Making them start further back doesn’t help the NNS teams at all. That’s putting a band-aid on a broken leg.
Mike N.: I don’t believe Carl suggested the Cup guys to the rear, he suggested the fastest guys to the rear. You’re insinuating the Cup guys are the fast guys, Amy.
Jeff: Only one of two things can be done for that series: limit the number of races for full-time Cup guys or no points for full-time Cup guys! Last time I checked they still have to run all of the laps.
Beth: Oh Mike, please! I’m not going to argue with you on this one, Amy. Not again.
Jeff: Amen Beth.
Kurt: I think if you make the Nationwide race at a different venue each week and take away the ability to go for a title, it would keep more Cup guys out.
Amy: “Racing” would be if they were on the same budget as the NNS teams. Having five times the money makes running those laps a lot easier.
Kurt: Does anyone here watch the Nationwide Series because their favorite Cup driver races in it?
Beth: Not me Kurt.
Amy: Yes Kurt, and I’m sick of him getting screwed by the Cup money.
Bryan: Whether my favorite driver is racing doesn’t change whether I watch or not.
Mike N.: I watch it whether he races in it or not.
Kurt: Some people do watch because of that, and that’s why it happens. I don’t like it, believe me, but there must be a demand.
Bryan: We’ve had this discussion a million times. Making them start in the back isn’t going to do anything but make Kyle Busch take the lead on lap 101 instead of lap 1.
Mike N.: Actually I enjoy watching Kyle Busch do things with a car that no one else in that series will do. Have you seen the other drivers in the Gibbs cars Amy? They are fast, but they don’t do what Kyle does.
Amy: They’re all running right up front with Kyle on the Gibbs money.
Mike N.: Where did the No. 20 end up Saturday night, Amy?
Amy: I have no idea, Mike. I watch the NNS races for the real NNS teams.
Jeff: I think it is more fun to watch Steve Wallace mess up!
Bryan: Steve Wallace did a hell of a job on Saturday. And Trevor Bayne is no slouch either.
Amy: Bayne is going to be a good one.
Bryan: That penalty on he and Wallace was total bull. And it was lucky for Busch and Edwards that that penalty came down. Wallace and Bayne had cars that could run at the point.

See also
Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2009 Kroger 200 at IRP

Kurt: Getting back to the question, what Edwards suggested would be strange to see wouldn’t it?
Jeff: Strange to see, yes, but then again it would have more of a feeling of being rigged.
Amy: It would be an interesting gimmick.
Kurt: Exactly, Jeff. Reeks of knocking down the achievers.
Jeff: Yeah, a gimmick, nonetheless.
Amy: And totally unfair to the NNS teams that fight and claw for a top-10 finish.
Kurt: Yeah, gimmick, that was the word I was looking for.
Jeff: Well, I’ve already stated the best and most simple fix, but NASCAR can’t figure that out.
Bryan: A gimmick is not good for the Nationwide Series, and when the Cup guys are in the back anyway, it makes no difference.
Jeff: Either no points for full-time Cup guys or limit their number of races.
Amy: It’s a ridiculous idea because it only sets up the field for yahoo moves when they aren’t needed. I’d go with no points and no money.
Jeff: That would work.
Kurt: None of that is ever gonna happen, gang. We don’t like it, but it is what it is.
Mike N.: The thing Carl suggested was setting the field by points and then inverting. But if you just invert, people will sandbag.
Bryan: Enough talk about how to fix the Series, we’ve done it a million times before. ORP was an amazing race, so let the past weekend do nothing more than show how short-track racing is still where it’s at, no matter the drivers or the series.
Beth: Amen Bryan.
Kurt: We need more short tracks, without question.
Beth: I don’t usually enjoy NNS races, but for this one I was glued to the TV.
Mike N.: I was talking with some folks and we thought it would be awesome to run a Cup race Saturday night at ORP and then the big race on Sunday at IMS.
Bryan: That was the best race at any level of NASCAR that was run all season. I wish someone would throw up 100,000 seats around ORP so Cup would race there. Fantastic racetrack.
Mike N.: They’d have to do a lot more than that, Bryan. The infrastructure there is terrible.
Jeff: This week’s NNS race will be a good one here at Iowa, too.
Kurt: I think that the fields should be inverted, and then they shoud race in the opposite direction.
Bryan: I can’t wait to see Iowa, Jeff. Heard nothing but rave reviews and the ARCA race I watched there was great.
Mike N.: It is a shame someone didn’t think to build the cookie cutters as three-quarter mile tracks instead of 1.5-milers.
Jeff: Or seven-eighths, like Iowa.
Kurt: Someday Mike. I’m pushing that issue.
Mike N.: They could tear up the cookie cutters and rebuild them relatively easily. Wouldn’t take more than four months.

OK, predictions for Pocono?

Kurt: Denny Hamlin. Dude is due.
Mike N.: Johnson. The momentum has returned.
Jeff: Marcos Ambrose. The straights are so long, he’ll think he’s in the Outback!
Bryan: Mark Martin blows the field away.
Amy: Kasey Kahne. He badly needs a win and runs well at Pocono.
Beth: Even though I said I wasn’t going to pick him again, I’m going with Kurt Busch.

Mirror Predictions 2009

Welcome to our third consecutive year of Mirror Predictions! Each week, our experts take the end of this column to tell us who the winner of each Cup race will be. But as we all know, predicting the future is difficult if not completely impossible… so how do you know which writer you can trust when you put your own reputation (or money) on the line?

That’s why we came up with our Mirror Predictions Chart. The scoring for this year is simple:

Prediction Scoring
+5 – Win
+3 – Top 5
+1 – Top 10
0 – 11th-20th
-1 – 21st-30th
-2 – 31st-40th
-3 – 41st-43rd

Through 19 races, the All-Star Race, and the Shootout this season, here’s how our experts have fared so far:

Writer Points Behind Predictions (Starts) Wins Top 5s Top 10s
Beth Lunkenheimer 25 20 1 8 11
Bryan Davis Keith 20 -5 17 3 7 8
Amy Henderson 17 -8 21 3 6 9
Kurt Smith 17 -8 17 2 5 9
Tom Bowles 14 -11 6 1 4 4
Jeff Meyer 11 -14 14 0 4 7
Vito Pugliese 11 -14 11 1 2 6
Mike Neff 10 -15 15 0 4 8
Tony Lumbis 0 -25 1 0 0 0
Phil Allaway 0 -25 1 0 0 0
Matt Taliaferro -3 -28 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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