Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Martinsville Chaos, Cheating Chad & Settling For a Job

Welcome to Mirror Driving. Every week, your favorite columnists sit down and give their opinion about the latest NASCAR news, rumors, and controversy. 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 (Mondays/Bowles-Eye View & Wednesdays/Did You Notice)
Phil Allaway (Tuesdays/Talking NASCAR TV & Frontstretch Newsletter)
Mike Neff (Wednesday/Full Throttle & Friday/Keepin’ It Short)
Amy Henderson (Fridays/Holding a Pretty Wheel)

The Martinsville race was full of spinouts, paybacks and all sorts of aggressive on-track behavior. Plenty of people left the track angry … but who, if anyone should have a legitimate beef going forward and will we see payback before the 2011 Sprint Cup season is out?

Amy: I think about half the field has a beef with Brian Vickers. But I don’t think you’ll see a lot of payback. Phoenix is much faster now, and the other two are as well.
Phil: I doubt you’ll see any paybacks this weekend since they’ll be in Texas. Maybe at Phoenix. No one’s stupid enough to dump someone at 195.
Mike: I don’t know that anyone has too big of a beef. Most everybody settled their crap Sunday (Oct. 30) and should be done.
Tom: Poor Jamie McMurray is probably the biggest victim from Sunday. Guy’s had a miserable season in just about every way you can have it.
Phil: Yeah, that whole McMurray incident didn’t make sense to me.

See also
Tony Stewart Wins Wild 2011 TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

Tom: Beyond that, I think a lot of payback was already enacted on the racetrack. Dale Earnhardt Jr. of all people certainly ruffled some feathers – it’s gotten swept under the radar with everything else going on. But I would contend Junior took away a chance to win by treating this 500-lapper like it was a game of Big Boy bumper cars.
Amy: Junior settled down as the race went on.
Mike: Junior only spun out Busch, right?
Tom: And he went after Denny Hamlin with three laps left, Mike … the contact that caused the Brad Keselowski wreck.
Amy: Busch caused that by driving Junior onto the curb.
Mike: I agree that Busch crowded him.
Phil: I think he spun out Joey Logano, too.
Amy: The Hamlin incident was his fault, as was Logano.
Tom: I’m not saying Junior didn’t have fun … he certainly did. But the No. 88 was mixing it up with everyone and anyone Sunday, while teammate Jimmie Johnson stayed clean and jumped out front.
Amy: I didn’t see the Hamlin deal to know if it was trying to wreck him or getting too aggressive for position.
Mike: Hamlin stuck a nose under him on the straight and he pulled over like a pansy. I thought the restart was just racing.
Tom: For a large portion of the race, I thought it was the top four – Hamlin, Jeff Gordon (who himself came back from an early wreck), Johnson and Kyle Busch. They settled the race amongst themselves while everyone else simply beat the snot out of each other. Then, Hamlin and Busch lost their track position at the end, got sucked into the mess and only one made it out alive (Hamlin). Outstanding race, don’t get me wrong but boy was there a lot of aggression from start to finish.
Amy: I actually thought it was good that guys were mixing it up. That’s short-track racing. A couple got out of hand, like Vickers.
Mike: I thought it was great they were mixing it up. I know there were a few short cautions but other than those it was a great race.
Amy: I actually thought Johnson wasn’t aggressive enough at the end. He had a shot at a clean bump and run and didn’t take it.
Phil: It was a crazy race, just like the Truck race on Saturday. And Johnson did get Tony Stewart a little, just not enough.
Amy: It was crazy, but it was pretty good. There was almost always someone racing somebody. It was kind of funny at one point, Juan Pablo Montoya tried for like two laps to dump Casey Mears and couldn’t do it.
Mike: I was surprised Johnson didn’t bump Stewart a little harder, but he was trying to race him clean. Montoya’s car was a total wreck.
Amy: A real bump-and-run IS clean, Mike. It’s dirty when you put him in the wall; moving him is fine.
Tom: I want to touch on the whole Vickers thing for a second. He came out after the race, in a phone interview on Monday and said four of the five incidents were not his fault. That Kenseth cost HIMSELF the championship, which I thought was pretty interesting. I do agree with the Matt Kenseth comments to some degree. That incident was clearly a case of a champion losing his cool at the wrong time, forgetting how lucky he was to be inside the top 10 at a track that usually eats him up and spits him out.
Mike: Kenseth was poised to have a pretty good lead coming out of there before that little incident.
Tom: I’m sure Kenseth regrets that whole deal this week. But at the same time, Vickers was all over the place. No way he was blameless in four of five. Bottom line is aggression over future job security, paired with a car that had speed to run inside the top 10 takes its toll.
Amy: Personally, I have more respect for a driver who admits his mistakes. Vickers caused at least three cautions and cost Johnson the race. That’s a lot for one guy in one day.
Phil: I wouldn’t say that he cost Johnson the race. He did cost Johnson a worry-free run to the checkers, that’s for sure.
Mike: Vickers was officially involved in six cautions. I think it was actually more like eight. Johnson had that race won if that final caution didn’t fly.
Tom: Agreed. So Vickers definitely cost him there. The two have talked and since made up but Johnson had a right to be upset. One caution is a victim, two is a bad coincidence … three or more, it’s impossible for me to believe you’re NOT part of the problem.
Mike: Oh yeah, he didn’t cause them all, but batting .333 in cautions, when there are 18 of them is pretty impressive.
Amy: I agree, Tom. After a while, the reaction in the press box was almost like “again? really?” I will say that I do love how aggressive drivers can be at Martinsville, but also that most of them know better than to let that carry over to a place where you’re going 200 mph.
Tom: As for payback, one word: Phoenix. Unpredictability with the pavement, plus the speed of the track – it’s only a 1-miler – means we’re going to see a few more back-and-forth incidents. I think Marcos Ambrose got a raw deal, too by the way – he was a top-five car before Montoya decided to, well, do what he does.
Mike: It was interesting watching Johnson in the media center. He was visibly shaken to a point he almost looked to be tearing up.
Tom: I think Johnson is going through the grief of recognizing his streak is over. Even after ‘Dega, I think they somehow thought there was still a chance. Now, the No. 48 knows their title hopes are toast.

See also
Monday Morning Teardown: Bringing Down the House

Mike: I think you’re right. He had a great day and only gained seven points. He’s still a race out with too many people between him and the top.
Amy: I think the win meant more to Johnson than almost anyone, and having it taken like that stung.
Tom: Man, they might as well have wrecked at ‘Dega when you think about it. Between Chad Knaus mouthing off at the wrong time, plus that bogus strategy they lost 20 points and now are a weekly post-race inspection candidate. A sixth-place at ‘Dega would have made all the difference in the world. Twenty-three points is doable; 43? No way.
Mike: I love Martinsville just because it is so unique. I would love to see a bunch more short tracks on the schedule but nothing that mimics Martinsville.
Amy: The thing is that Johnson can put the blame for the lost title squarely on Chad Knaus … but that’s another story for another day. Mainly, Holding A Pretty Wheel on Friday.
Mike: Short-track racing is fantastic and if you didn’t like the race Sunday, you’re an idiot. I wish they’d reconfigure several of the intermediate tracks to be 0.875 or 0.75-mile tracks.
Tom: I think McMurray is the one with the right to seek revenge. Most likely it’ll come from someone else, though, at Phoenix.

In his post-race comments at Martinsville, Tony Stewart said that some of the young drivers in the sport “need their butts kicked.” Was Stewart correct, and if he was, who is going to dole those “butt kickings” out … and how?

Amy: Stewart was absolutely correct. But there are a couple of things at play. One, there’s nobody to do it and two, in the old days, you could do it on the track because many tracks were like Martinsville. Now, you’re really playing with fire trying to teach guys a lesson at 200. That’s just stupid.
Tom: There’s been so much talk this season from veterans about a lack of respect. But I look at it differently. How in the world can you show respect when you can only pass for four or five laps on the intermediates? These drivers have been put in a box with the package they’re forced to run. How can you show respect when if you don’t pass a guy in the first few laps, on a double-file restart you’re resigned to running behind him for the rest of the green-flag run?
Phil: As for the butt kicking, yes there are certain people that probably do need to get at least a talking to. Whoopings should be done in private.

See also
Bowles-Eye View: How Bizarre, a True Halloween Story of Back From the Dead

Mike: There is no question that there needs to be an authoritative voice in the sport, in a driver position, to put a check on some of the drivers. Unfortunately, there isn’t anyone who can fill that role. If Johnson or Carl Edwards would seriously beat someone’s ass once, then they could take that spot.
Phil: Maybe Jeff Burton could fill that role. He seems to be “The Mayor” of the garage. However, maybe he’d want to stay out of those disputes.
Amy: They need someone like Richard Petty, who would poke you in the chest ’til he got his point across … which was all it took.
Tom: But who is being “disrespectful,” guys? By daring people to pass them? Oh my God, if only everyone pulled over like Mark Martin, then it would be like the local senior center going out for a 25-mph drive on a four-lane highway.
Mike: That was Stewart’s point. You need to take the guy behind the garage and settle it between the drivers. Not be using the cars to settle it.
Amy: There is a lot of disrespect on the track. Respect means racing others the way they race you. It doesn’t mean you don’t race hard. Taking it out with a car on pit road is dirty.
Tom: Well, after the race the endangering of the pit crews by beating and banging on pit road is just ridiculous. That’s another story. I understand where Stewart is coming from … that disputes between people should turn into off-track punches, not on-track wrecks that put the safety of others in jeopardy. But again, what is causing these people to get so mad? God forbid people try to be competitive instead of stroking it.
Mike: Stewart suggested setting up a boxing ring. I know it sounds silly but it would settle a lot of crap.
Amy: Get out of the car and man up.
Tom: I honestly think Stewart and some others have forgotten that back in the day, you used to actually pass and stuff regardless of how many points you think you could come up with by the end of 500 miles.
Amy: It’s not about being competitive, it’s about racing clean and treating others the way they treat you. And there are a few guys who don’t race others the way they’re raced. Some are, but there are also guys who use a bumper when they don’t need to.
Tom: A few guys who don’t race others the way they’re raced! I mean, the object of the game is to finish as high as possible. I’d believe that if we had a wrecking ball disguised as a racecar decimating the field each week, but we don’t.
Mike: I don’t know what Stewart expects. I think his point was, back in the day, something like the Kevin Harvick/Greg Biffle deal in practice would have been over and done. Now, it is festering under the surface.
Tom: A boxing ring sounds great. But let’s use it for actual, legitimate gripes like the Harvick/Biffle incident on Saturday. Not, “Whiney whine whine, he was on the tail end of the lead lap and didn’t move over for me.” That’s what half these freaking people are mad about.
Phil: Whoop-Dee-do. Apparently, it’s gauche to try to protect your spot on the lead lap now? Since when?
Tom: And up until Martinsville, 80% of the cautions this Chase have been for freaking hot dog wrappers! The first five Chase races, there were nothing but a few harmless spins and one small, multi-car incident at Charlotte. So, sorry Tony and you other veterans, I don’t buy it.
Phil: I suppose that there is so little short-track racing these days at the highest level that Sunday was the perfect time to go nuts or something?
Amy: I remember when Gordon started, and he was pretty arrogant until he got his clock cleaned on track a few times. I’m not advocating wrecking people, but a trip behind the woodshed? Sure.
Tom: OK, but guys, who are the offenders? Who deserves a trip to the woodshed? Vickers after Sunday? Andy Lally because he’s a rookie and that’s what the NASCAR fraternity does for first-year hazing? Inquiring minds want to know. Kyle Busch? Kurt Busch?
Amy: Vickers. Kyle Busch, a couple others. In all seriousness, Jimmy Spencer did Kurt Busch a world of good in the long run.
Tom: Kyle Busch does not need to be taken behind the woodshed. His moves are, at times Dale Earnhardt-esque and we didn’t see that man get a smacking whatsoever.
Amy: For moves like Busch made on Jennifer Jo Cobb at Bristol or on Elliott Sadler there this year, he most certainly DOES, Tom.
Mike: Oh, I beg to differ on Earnhardt. I guarantee Petty set him straight a couple of times. And I’m sure there were times that we never heard about back then when drivers met up away from the track and “worked out” their differences.

See also
Fact or Fiction: Throwing Caution to the Wind, Paybacks & Penalty-Gate

Amy: I agree with Mike on this one. Busch has a tendency to race harder than he needs to, especially if he deems the other driver unworthy. Some of the young guys an all three series could use a reminder of how to race, honestly.
Phil: I can’t remember Earnhardt actually dumping Petty in a race.
Mike: Richard tells the story of the first or second time they raced at Richmond. Earnhardt ended up on top of Petty’s hood. I bet Harry Gant and Cale Yarborough probably had a few words for a young Earnhardt, too.
Amy: The reason other drivers respect guys like Johnson is because he follows the “race them like they race you.” Same with Stewart (usually) and Burton, etc. There’s a reason that some guys have the respect of the garage.
Tom: Well, I don’t think there’s as big of a respect problem as some drivers are making it out to be. The aggression, competitiveness between individuals is what helped make NASCAR be what it is today.
Phil: Earnhardt was extra-aggressive for almost his entire career, mostly because of his driving mindset from his pre-NASCAR days. However, early on, he was a bit reckless as well.
Mike: Most definitely, Phil. He was out of control when he first started.
Amy: I agree completely, Phil. Later on, he had the respect of almost everybody. Nobody said otherwise, Tom, but aggression and competitiveness are best used with a dose of respect.
Mike: I don’t have a problem at all with aggressiveness on the racetrack or people getting chippy. But tearing up cars because some guy spun you out is getting carried away. The drivers need to settle it outside of the cars – whatever that entails.

Buzz at Martinsville included a spillover from Talladega after a conversation between Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson surfaced in which Knaus told Johnson to damage the rear end of his car if he won. NASCAR spoke to crew chief and driver and will tear down the No. 48 car each week for the remainder of the year. Did NASCAR make the right call or should there have been an actual penalty?

Amy: NASCAR absolutely made the right call. Those cars should be torn down every week this year and half of next. Beyond that? While everyone agrees that there was something kinky or damn close to it, you can’t penalize without proof of an infraction, period. Sets a terrible precedent.
Phil: Well, I think this is enough. Remember, all this tearing down could eventually lead to an actual factual penalty, so they’ll have that hanging over their heads.
Mike: How can you make a penalty for what someone said? The car passed three inspections that weekend. If you watch the video, Knaus actually looks right at the camera at the end. I’m still thinking that it was more of a joke that got a little carried away in hindsight.

See also
Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: 2011 Martinsville Fall Race Recap

Amy: I don’t know, Mike. I do wonder if it was head games … a little smoke and mirrors.
Mike: It might have been, Amy. They might be using the old logic, something illegal in the front end so we talk about the rear to distract people from what is really out of line.
Tom: I think we’re naive to think these types of conversations didn’t happen back in the day. Gordon/Evernham, Earnhardt/Petree … they just didn’t get caught on camera. So that’s why I’m still ambivalent about it. But that begs the question … why else would you wreck the darn thing? Also, the car finished 26th so it’s not like it had superhuman speed.
Amy: I agree completely, Tom. If anyone thinks that nobody has destroyed a car to keep NASCAR from seeing something, they need to rethink that one. Here’s the thing. The car passed every inspection at Talladega. It was not chosen for a teardown, so that’s all NASCAR has to go with.
Phil: Yeah. Of course, stuff like RaceBuddy didn’t exist “back in the day,” so we would have never known.
Mike: Maybe Johnson has been warned that they’re close to breaking the template rules – like Clint Bowyer last year before New Hampshire – and he was afraid bump drafting would push them too far out of line.
Amy: Bowyer deserved the penalty, and the No. 48 would have also if they had won and been found illegal – neither of which occurred.
Mike: That is the funny thing. We’re wasting all of this breath on a car that sucked badly.
Amy: I did have to laugh at people who said this calls their two wins into question, though. Those two cars WERE torn down.
Mike: The No. 48 has been torn down more than any car in history.
Amy: HMS was warned that they were within a thousandth on cars last year. Certainly, being that close could cause problems if anything got moved during the race.
Tom: Agreed. Either NASCAR’s in on this gig, they have remarkably ignorant inspectors or (gasp!) the No. 48 car has been clean for some time. I’m not saying that means they haven’t cheated before. But lately, there’s been a lot more scrutiny … and that group has passed the test.
Phil: If that’s so, I’d understand why Knaus was nervous. Of course, it begs the thought of not building something so close to the edge for a restrictor-plate race, knowing what’s going to happen. Give yourself a little wiggle room just in case the unforeseen occurs.
Mike: Knaus has not been penalized since 2007.
Amy: NASCAR is right to look closely, but it should end there. The car passed inspection, and NASCAR chose not to take it to teardown. NASCAR had access to the scanner. They missed the opportunity, that’s on them. And for all the complaining about Knaus, I believe Todd Berrier still has more major infractions.
Tom: I think sending the car to post-race inspection, for the next four weeks is the right call. But that type of chatter, if recognized in time by NASCAR officials should have sent the No. 48 to post-race R&D inspection at ‘Dega. That would have helped clarify things … but like Marty Smith said on ESPN the other day, you’re naive if you think it’s the only duo that’s having this conversation in 2011.
Amy: I’m trying to remember an incident in Nationwide (I think) a couple of years ago and can’t remember exactly. Didn’t one of the Gibbs cars blow an engine and then stuff it in the wall or something?
Phil: It appears that the conversation wasn’t on the scanner. Knaus just leaned in and mentioned it before the race. It was caught on RaceBuddy, though.

See also
The Yellow Stripe: 6 Drivers Who Can’t Wait for 2012

Tom: Usually, it happens in haulers, away from the cameras and not in a position where the public can hear your every word. But after the Bowyer incident, every team in that garage is terrified of getting busted for some type of minimal infraction – the penalties are so high.
Mike: Don’t forget about ol’ DW detonating his engine in the All-Star Race. I can’t remember the last time an engine actually blew during a burnout.
Amy: True, Mike. I do wonder sometimes when guys do excessive burnouts to the point where it blows an engine or a tire.
Tom: For those that think this tarnishes Johnson’s run of five championships; well, I’m not sure how much it realistically swayed public opinion. Those who think the guy cheated; they still think he cheated. I don’t think that one sentence took the casual fan to the extreme that 2006-10 is now a giant asterisk. The Chase, my friends, has already done it for us.
Amy: Here’s this: if Knaus looked at the camera, he obviously knew it was there. How much of the whole thing was head games, knowing it would get people, presumably including other teams, all hot and bothered about the wrong thing. Head games, maybe. Or maybe not. But with no proof of an infraction, there can be no penalty, period. Otherwise, what’s next? You heard from a guy who heard from a guy who heard from his sister that her boyfriend’s cousin said that so-and-so was cheating? Nope, otherwise the entire garage would be penalized weekly.
Phil: These dudes know that the camera is there weeks in advance.
Mike: Word of mouth does not work. Every team would be spreading crap on every other team.
Amy: I can think of a couple of times when NASCAR ignored word of mouth, so, without an actual illegal car? No dice.
Mike: The inspection process is so thorough I can’t imagine people can sneak things through these days.
Amy: Could there have been something kinky with the No. 48? Possibly. But it’s just as possible that nothing was. As Mike says, inspection is tough. Many, many cars have to reinspect every week for small stuff.

Several Cup drivers, like David Ragan and Brian Vickers have picked up part-time Nationwide rides in hopes of transitioning to that series over sitting on the sidelines next year. Is there anyway to stop these drivers from “double-dipping” in-season, in essence stripping a ride from somebody else just so they can assure themselves a job for 2012?

Tom: I don’t know if there’s anyway to stop it. But there’s something disturbing about “major leaguers” choosing to step down to AAA before the end of the season because they know their future job options are slim. It’s like auditioning for a ride when you already have one? Weird.
Mike: No. Buschwhacking is buschwhacking and it will always happen.

See also
5 Points to Ponder: Trouble in Paradise, Too Many Yellows & Winning

Amy: I don’t know. I don’t think that’s as bad as the guys who are doing it for an easy trophy. If they are going to run NNS next year, they will be NNS regulars.
Mike: It is just a shame that there are so few good rides that they have to go back to the Nationwide Series or Trucks. Then again, if they were good enough, they wouldn’t have to.
Tom: Both drivers are secure the rest of the season in Cup. It’s just a stinky deal their future job insecurity takes two rides away from talented drivers looking for jobs in Nationwide. Yeah, I mean it’s one thing for Silly Season to result in a switch of your Sprint Cup ride midseason. We used to see that all the time. But you shouldn’t be working two jobs with the hope you’ll end up with one in 2012 … that one just doesn’t sound right to me, especially with so much driver talent currently unemployed.
Amy: Well, you can’t blame someone about to be on the dole for looking for a job. Should a regular Joe who gets laid off have to wait until his employment ends before he’s allowed to start interviewing for a new job?
Phil: Vickers is only in the No. 32 because of the Traveshamockery involving Reed Sorenson a few weeks back that still doesn’t make sense to me.
Mike: I think the Sorenson deal really boils down to him badmouthing the cars.
Amy: Right. And it’s not like Vickers went there and said, “I want this ride next year. Kick him out so we can see how it works.” I don’t think it’s realistic to tell a driver that he can’t start looking for a new ride until the offseason. There are no rides left by then.
Mike: Very true, Amy. If they know they’re going to be looking, then they need to try and secure a new gig as soon as they can.
Amy: I find what Edwards and Keselowski and Busch do every week much more offensive than some guys who are better suited to NNS than Cup looking for a ride so they’ll have a job next year.
Mike: The sad thing is going to be if Red Bull tries to stay in as a sponsor and NASCAR uses some arcane rule to keep them from doing it.
Amy: I still don’t see how they can, Mike, without a whole passel of problems.
Mike: I agree, but that was the word circulating this weekend. Supposedly there is an exclusivity agreement for whoever is the official something of NASCAR.
Phil: What would keep Red Bull from staying in the sport as a sponsor? Would Gatorade cry foul? If so, they should shut up.

See also
Top 10 Things Brian Vickers DIDN’T Run Into at Martinsville

Amy: Still, if they invoke that as I understand it, it would mean that they could also tell Lowe’s to get lost.
Mike: Exactly, Amy. It would be a gigantic Pandora’s Box.
Tom: I think the two-car Red Bull team will disappear. And I do understand the need to jump on other jobs; much of that current program has already disintegrated, with at least half-a-dozen key personnel already moving on. For the drivers, though, shouldn’t they be focused on their Cup ride, doing the best job there and hoping it lands them an opportunity elsewhere? Isn’t it doing a disservice to the programs they’re already driving for?
Amy: How, Tom? Those opportunities are gone. They need to find a new job. Again, if you get laid off with notice, should you have to wait to start the interview process? Of course not.
Phil: You could argue a “Maybe” here. If the Nationwide race wasn’t also at Texas this weekend, then it would be a yes.
Mike: I don’t know. If their current program has told them that they’re getting kicked to the curb, they need to find a job.
Amy: This is one instance that I don’t see a difference between Joe Nine to Five getting laid off and a racecar driver losing their ride. You look for a new job as soon as you can.
Mike: And keep looking for years and years.

OK, how about some predictions for Texas?

Amy: I think I like Johnson and his consistency there.
Tom: I think this race will be the one that separates Stewart and Edwards – one way or the other. I believe in that No. 99, I do. I think Edwards will put it away; but boy, Stewart is not going to make it easy.
Mike: I’ll take Cousin Carl. Stewart is going to try and not make it easy. Unlike Martinsville, the driver doesn’t make as much difference at Texas.
Phil: For Sunday, I’m going to go off the board a little bit. Worked for me recently. I’m going to go with Kasey Kahne. He’s been very strong recently. Sunday was an aberration since he got caught up in Bobby Labonte‘s mess early in the race.
Tom: Neither Edwards or Stewart will win, I know that much. I’m going to go rogue and say Burton. The No. 31 was close to top-10 in the spring, Burton’s won there before, they’ve got some mojo going on and Texas has gone to a non-Chaser down the stretch in the past. Kahne is my darkhorse if I can even have one with that pick. I think Johnson runs top five, but so does Edwards and Stewart is just outside the top 10. Game, set and match Edwards … he can stroke it the last two races and take it home.
Amy: He’s been stroking it the whole Chase – why stop now?
Mike: I don’t think he’ll be able to stroke at Phoenix. We’ve seen how that has worked in the past.
Phil: I don’t think he “stroked it” Sunday. His car had handling issues.
Amy: Well he didn’t Sunday because his car was really that bad. And just for the record, I think Stewart leaves Texas within 10 points and takes the title at Homestead.
Mike: Ninth at Martinsville was a freaking miracle.
Amy: Ninth was the best he could do. But there are a couple races he had the car to win.

Mirror Predictions 2011

Welcome to our fifth 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 33 races, here’s how our experts have fared so far:

WriterPointsBehindPredictions (Starts)WinsTop 5sTop 10s
Phil Allaway283311016
Amy Henderson25-3322718
Mike Neff22-6272913
Summer Dreyer14-1414155
Jeff Meyer11-1717158
Beth Lunkenheimer8-2014145
Tom Bowles2-264012
Brody Jones0-285002

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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