Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: The Winds Of Change… Or Not?

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*:

Amy Henderson “(Mondays / The Big Six & Fridays / Holding A Pretty Wheel)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/351/
Beth Lunkenheimer “(Wednesdays / Beth’s Brief–Frontstretch Newsletter & Thursdays / Truckin’ Thursdays & Frontstretch Truck Series Reporter)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/3362
Phil Allaway “(Tuesdays / Talking NASCAR TV & Frontstretch Newsletter)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/18439/
Mike Neff “(Mondays / Full Throttle / Short Track Coordinator)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/1744/
Summer Bedgood “(Wednesdays / Power Rankings & Thursdays / Fan Q&A & Frontstretch Newsletter)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/32575/
Huston Ladner (Frontstretch IndyCar contributor)

*After Sunday’s race at Talladega, numerous drivers said they want to see changes in restrictor plate racing to reduce the chances of a huge crash and put the race more in their hands… do changes need to be made, and if so, what can NASCAR do?*

Summer Will it really make a difference? Dega is Dega and Daytona is Daytona. However, those new cars will cut down on a lot of the tandem drafting due to the bumpers not lining up anywhere near as well.
Phil: At this point, I don’t know what they could legitimately do. I don’t think they’re going to do anything substantial for Daytona because of the new cars coming in.
Beth: Other than dropping Dega and Daytona? I don’t know if there’s a whole lot they can do.
Mike: There are several things they could do. The main thing they need to do is make them have to hit the brakes. If they can make the cars a lot less easy to drive and make them have to brake in the corners then it will be fine. If they don’t have to brake they can’t fix it. I will continue to preach that they need to take everything off below the front bumper but I don’t really think that is going to happen. It would fix racing at tracks besides the plate tracks too.
Amy: I think there’s one thing they can do: regulate horsepower with EFI instead of a plate and give them throttle response. Couple that with getting rid of the stupid pressure valve set so low and they would either run tandems or several packs of 6-10 cars.
Mike: Now, don’t forget, whether they admit it or not, fans have spoken with their wallets and they want to see wrecks. I will tell you one thing. I can’t remember ever seeing the Talladega infield as empty as it was this weekend. That was pitiful.
Phil: They’re saying attendance of 88,000. Hasn’t been that low in 20 years.
Amy: I don’t even think you can call what we saw Sunday racing. It was nothing more than riding around, waiting for the inevitable wreck. If they can’t fix the issues with EFI or aero, they need to drop those tracks, honestly.
Mike: That would be the same as Indy Car racing dropping the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There was plenty of racing, but when it came to go time it got insane really quickly.
Amy: I agree with Junior’s words on the plate tracks.
Summer I enjoy the plate races and with only four a year, there is no reason to take them from the schedule.
Beth: I watch it because I want to…and it’s not because of the wrecks.
Amy: Here’s the crux of it: NASCAR doesn’t want it to change. They are perfectly happy catering to the fans who watch for the wrecks and so are the media. All the prerace shows talked about was the wrecks and how the wrecks would affect the Chase.

Are scenes like this one inevitable in restrictor plate races?

Summer Same here, Beth. I like the hard racing. If we could have that kind of racing without the gigantic wrecks, it would be perfect. I watched a lot of fans thoroughly enjoying the race when there really were hardly any crashes. They were appalled when that last lap issue happened. The diehard fans aren’t there to see wrecks.
Mike: No Summer, but the majority of fans are, which is why they had to change Bristol back. Racing at Bristol was very hard and fantastic at Bristol with the new configuration and the fans stayed away in droves. They thought there would be wrecks this year which is why they came back. They’ll stop coming back soon if they don’t get the wrecking back more in the next few years.
Summer They like the hard racing. Wrecking is unfortunately a direct result of that. But that doesn’t mean that they are looking specifically for the wrecks.
Amy: Then why are they there? It’s impossible for me to enjoy the race knowing they’re just going to all wreck anyway. If you’re rooting for a driver, wouldn’t it be even worse just waiting for him to get taken out?
Summer That doesn’t make sense. You really think Jr. fans are cheering for him to wreck?
Amy: No, they’re just sitting there helplessly, praying he won’t be in the big one when it happens. Which can’t be much fun.
Phil: Heck no. They want him to win. Badly.
Mike: They’re hoping he’ll win but at the same time, most of his fans are hoping to see Johnson and Gordon and Harvick and the lot wreck while Junior wins.
Summer I really don’t think Matt Kenseth’s fans were happy to see 25 cars wreck behind him.
Beth: Umm correct me if I’m wrong, but that can happen at ANY track.
Amy: Personally, the whole thing is just three hours of stress for me, because I know it’s going to hell in a handbasket at some point. I can’t enjoy the rest knowing what’s coming.
Phil: If Tony Stewart didn’t screw up, then there probably wasn’t going to be a wreck. Waltrip all but had it won…unless Casey Mears could have gotten him at the line.
Amy: Maybe NASCAR needs to listen to the drivers on this one. When the most popular driver in the sport and a four-time champion say they don’t want to do something they once loved, something is really wrong.
Summer Everyone always hates everyone and everything when they have a bad day.
Amy: I don’t think a week from now Jeff Gordon is sudenly going to say, “Oh, my bad, that was really fun after all!” Mike: Junior doesn’t love it as much because his plate stuff isn’t head and shoulders above everyone else’s these days.
Summer I don’t think he’ll say it was “fun,” because he had a bad day. Like I said, some people like myself genuinely love it. And if you tell me I like it because of wrecks, I’ll have to resist screaming in your face. That has nothing to do with it.
Mike: The bottom line is, and I can’t believe I agree with Kyle Petty on this, but they put a band-aid on this thing when Bobby Allison went into the catch fence and they just keep applying the same band-aid year after year.
Amy: Then what does it have to do with, Summer? All plate racing is is wrecking and waiting for the wrecking to happen.
Summer I don’t watch waiting for the wreck to happen. I watch enjoying the good racing…all the lead changes… the unpredictably. I don’t “wait” for the wreck to happen. In fact, if I could watch a Talladega race without the big one or any major wreck whatsoever, I’d thoroughly enjoy it.
Beth: Probably the same reason that I enjoy it. Unpredictability, lead changes, racing inches away from one another and using (gasp) differing strategies.
Amy: But how can you enjoy that KNOWING the wreck is going to happen and it will all be taken away from half the field no matter what they do? I just can’t understand that. I’m serious, legit question: how are people able to separate the two?
Phil: I’d argue that the field getting closer together made the Daytona and Talladega situation even tougher to deal with. In the past, there were nowhere near as many people that could even keep up with the leaders, let alone compete for a win.
Mike: Plate racing is like chess. It requires drivers to anticipate, plan and try and benefit from good planning.
Summer Seriously…. why do we bitch about boring racing and then bitch again when that good racing produces some danger? You can’t have it both ways. Exciting racing is never NOT going to produce wrecks.
Mike: The wreck wouldn’t have happened if the three-time champion hadn’t screwed up.
Summer you can’t have drivers racing side-by-side in a competitive race without some torn up sheet metal. It’s not going to happen.
Amy: Then how can you say you like it but not the wrecks if you know the wrecks are going to happen?
Summer Because I know it’s ridiculous to ask for one but not the other. I’d LIKE to have it both ways, but I know it’s not possible.
Amy: You can have good racing without 20 cars getting taken out…watch races at Martinsville, Darlington, Rockingham…
Summer It’s completely hypocritical of me to watch a mile and half race with no actual racing, and then watch a restrictor plate race and say that’s wrong too.
Mike: You can like it because the racing is very exciting and entertaining.
Summer You don’t have the same big wrecks, but don’t tell me neither of those tracks have a good amount of crashing. Hell, the “Darlington stripe” is practically a rite of passage.
Amy: But 20 or more drivers who had nothing to do with the situation don’t get taken out, either. Maybe a couple, but that’s it. That’s the difference. But to say you like that, in the end, you like the wrecking, or at least you accept it as collateral damage. Why do people deny that? If you do, that’s what you like, why say otherwise?
Beth: Racing in itself is inherently dangerous whether you’re racing on a 2.66-mile oval or a little quarter-mile short track. It’s was a great race! Side by side battling, lead changes, strategy…that’s a good race.
Summer Oh my gosh…. if there is one thing that gets under my skin is people telling me what I like. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it a thousand times: If I could watch a race that was competitive and had side-by-side hard racing without any crashing whatsoever, that would be my ideal race. But it just doesn’t work like that.
Mike: The battles were intense and the drivers moving forward and backward was exciting. Then Stewart stuck his head up his butt and wrecked the field.
Beth: You watch it differently than we do then…I don’t wait for them to wreck. I watch the good racing as it happens.
Amy: the _only_ good thing about it is the small teams can actually compete. That part is awesome. The rest, not so much. Watching guys like Casey Mears get taken out, to me, was the one of the hardest things to watch all year.
Summer Like Mike said, it wouldn’t have happened without Stewart. Without that one move, there is no Big One all day.
Amy: Really? Does anyone actually believe it won’t at some point? The last caution-free race at Talladega was Dale Earnhardt’s last win, I believe… and without the wreck, that was a good race. But it was 12 years ago.
Phil: I just hope Ragan’s team doesn’t use most of their 4th place money fixing that piece.
Beth: Yes,I do believe it may or may not happen.
Mike: Hell yes I believe it won’t. We were a quarter of a lap away from it not happening.
Amy: And you really believe if Stewart hadn’t done it, someone else wouldn’t have? And I’ve got a bridge for sale.

*In reviewing an incident from Sunday in which Kurt Busch drove off while being attended to by medical personnel without his helmet, his car shedding items, resulting in Busch being parked for the rest of the race. Should Busch face further penalties for failing to follow a NASCAR directive, and how hard should NASCAR come down on him?*

_Editor’s note: Our weekly discussion takes place on Mondays, before NASCAR hands out penalties. NASCAR has decided not to penalize Busch further._

Mike: Hell no he shouldn’t face more. He didn’t have his helmet on. Dale Earnhardt did it and he’s been celebrated for it ever since.
Summer Did Earnhardt get penalized? That’s a serious question. I actually don’t know.
Beth: He was parked for the remainder of the race…isn’t that already a penalty?
Amy: Here’s the thing. _If_ he weren’t already on probation–for violating probation–I’d say the parking was plenty. But the fact is, he _is_ on probation. NASCAR has to back that up. I don’t know if you can compare Earnhardt when he got back in the car at Daytona; that was many years ago, and he wasn’t on probation at the time, to the best of my knowledge. Earnhardt didn’t have safety workers leaning into the car when he floored it and drove off, either.
Summer That’s what I think, Amy. They can’t put someone on “probation” and then just let something like that slide.
Mike: Why do they have to back anything up? He didn’t do anything wrong.
Phil: The parking is a penalty. I don’t know if he would have been back anyway.
Beth: Because he’s a racer who wanted to get back in the race and didn’t hear the command to stop?
Summer He didn’t hear the command to stop because he didn’t have his helmet on, which he isn’t supposed to do. I mean, maybe he didn’t know that, but I doubt it.
Mike: No, Earnhardt grabbed a safety worker and threw him out of the way.
Summer Beth: He took it off to survey the damage.
Amy: Drivers are told EVERY drivers meeting to respect the safety workers. Driving without a helmet is also against the rules.
Beth: And as a result, he was penalized by being parked for the remainder of the race.
Phil: Oh yes, and don’t drive without your helmet on when its Lap 100. That’s just stupid. Now, since he was going to drive off, he should have told them to take the gear off of his car so that they could leave.

Was a wrecked racecar and a seat on the bench punishment enough for Kurt Busch after he drove away from safety workers?

Amy: Exactly, Phil.
Summer I guess that would have been fine, but the helmet thing? Come on. How do you not know that?
Huston: I knew this question was coming. NASCAR has made both of the Busch brothers their whipping boys the last two year– not without the brothers issues–but this instance might be one of those times to just let it go.
Mike: I agree that he should not drive without his helmet on, although he was going to the garage, there was no question about that.
Phil:: Huston: I realize that safety is a foremost concern, but this latest problem is kind of a non-issue.
Amy: I think there should be a fine foe endangering the safety workers. They don’t have the luxury of a 3400-pound roll cage
Mike: He didn’t drive very far though. I don’t know why the engine shut off and then suddenly found fuel. I don’t know how that happened.
Phil:: My best guess is that he would be looking at a fine if he weren’t on probation.
Amy: suspension…I’m torn. He broke more then one rule, and he’s on probation for violation a previos probation.
Huston: That may seem contrarian to the idea of safety, but it just seems to be best to let it go.
Summer Yeah I think a few thousand dollars fine would send a message.
Amy: On the basis that he is on probation, he should sit. If he were not already on probation, I’d say a fine was more than enough. Probation can’t mean something six months ago and now it doesn’t. That undermines the whole system.

Summer I agree with that. That’s why I’m on board with a fine. Suspension would be a little harsh.
Huston: Also, I’m a little confused as to why the safety official had put his equipment on the car. I am not used to that one.
Mike: Now I will say this, I would truly enjoy seeing Furniture Row having to find another driver after they yanked Regan Smith out of the car for this weekend.
Phil: That is true, Amy. Suspension may be harsh here, but they gotta drop it on him. And not like B.J. Raji and his stupid dance in that commercial.
Amy: You can’t just lessen the penalty for probation violations from what it was earlier this year, which was a one-week suspension. A fine would be doing just that.
Summer I think this would be one of those “judgment call” things.
Amy: As it was, Busch violated at least four rules or : he didn’t respect the safety workers, he drove without a helmet, which caused him to not hear a NASCAR directive which he therefor didn’t obey, and he drove with the window net down.
Huston: There’s a bit of grey area there to begin with–what has NASCAR defined as the situation when a driver cannot drive back? Is it simply when he exits the car after a wreck? The helmet issue, however, is problematic
Mike: Oh please, cars drive after wrecks with window nets down all of the time. But I agree; I don’t know that they can’t just say there was a misunderstanding and parking him was enough.
Mike: Speaking of window nets, why isn’t Clint Bowyer being called out for not having his window net properly secured at the bottom?
Summer The helmet is a much bigger issue than the window net.
Amy: I agree, Summer; just pointing out that the net is a rule.
Phil:: I’d argue that no one could see that until it was too late. You couldn’t see it from the outside of the car.
Huston: I’d like to see KuBu just get a fine and be done with it. But I’m sure he’s going to get hammered on this one. Maybe the subset question is whether or not he’ll lose his new ride. How does Furniture Row feel about this latest escapade?
Amy: I think the real issue was that the safety workers had already gotten to the car and apparently one was leaning in the window when he took off. If he had driven off before they got there, with his helmet on, there would not have been a violation of any rule.
Phil:: In that case, Kurt could have told them that he was good to go and given the safety worker the necessary time to get his stuff off the No. 51.
Summer I think just having the threat of suspension would be enough for most drivers, though. For Busch he’s proven he doesn’t give a crap.
Beth: Did it ever occur to anyone that he may not have realized they had equipment on his car until after the fact?
Phil:: He knew that the car couldn’t simply be repaired on pit road, so staying on the lead lap was irrelevant here.
Amy: Whether he did or not, Beth, he dorve without a helmet and ignored the safety workers…the bag is just collateral.
Phil:: That is possible, Beth. However, had he stuck around those extra six seconds or so, he would have known that, and it could have been removed.
Amy: If he had said to the workers, “Hey, guys, please look out, I can drive it back” and given them the chance to step away, put his helmet on and driven away there would be zero issue. NASCAR would probably have forgiven the net. But he chose not to do that and violated several rules in the process. Bottom line, he broke a bunch of rules while on probation, and NASCAR needs to be consistent with the precedent they set earlier this year.
Beth: What’s your definition of a bunch? Yes there were violations, but not what I would call a bunch.
Summer Though I don’t always trust NASCAR to make judgment calls, I don’t think they should put a driver on suspension every time he does something out of line, probation or not.
Amy: There were four.
Beth: That’s hardly a bunch. And he didn’t ignore a directive…it wasn’t heard.
Beth: The same thing could happen with radio failure on any given day.
Phil: They’ll fine his butt regardless here. I’m thinking this might be two weeks for Kurt.
Amy: Just a fine undermines the whole system, Beth.
Beth: Just a fine? You say it like it’s just pocket change. They could easily hit him with six figures.
Summer I really don’t think a fine would do that. You have to do it on a “per case” basis. You can’t just have one answer to every issue.
Mike: I still don’t think he needs anything. Dale Earnhardt did the exact same thing, only he threw a safety worker out of his car, and he’d celebrated for it.
Beth: The point is that he was already penalized for his actions…period.
Amy: They should hit him with six figures. But that’s beside the point. They made it clear in June that violation probation meant suspension. Changing that now would be a disservice to everyone.
Summer No they didn’t. That was based upon the circumstances, not every single case from there on out.
Phil: Even if NASCAR were going to make an exception for someone, the last person that would get that exception is Kurt Busch.
Beth: But remember the reason he was found in violation of his probation…for problems he’s had before with the media.
Phil: Yes, so he mouthed off to possibly the quietest person in the Media Center, who he inexplicably hates. However, I’d argue this is worse than that Dover confrontation.
Mike: Yeah Philip. I guess you can’t get away with doing things focused on racing.
Amy: It shouldn’t matter WHY he violated probation…he broke a NASCAR rule. That’s a violation, whether the rule is be nice to the media, wear a helmet or anything else NASCAR says.
Phil:: Being focused on racing is one thing, Mike. If NASCAR doesn’t want drivers messing with the safety workers, don’t do it. Don’t make yourself look like a moron.
Amy: Again, Mike, if he’d simply put on his helmet and asked the safety workers to step back so he could drive it in, we wouldn’t need to have this discussion. His choice.
Beth: I could be wrong, but I don’t think they were in the window….just next to the car.
Summer One of the safety workers was looking in the right side window.
Phil: The guy was reaching into the car when Kurt put it in gear.
Amy: In any profession, it’s your responsibility to know and follow the rules, and to accept the consequences if you don’t. Being a racecar driver doesn’t make you exempt.

*Matt Kenseth’s win on Sunday was a morale boost for the driver, but it did little to boost Kenseth in the points — he’s still in 12th place with six races to go. Does this quirk reveal a flaw in the Chase, and if so, what can be done about it?*

Summer: Oh my gosh… please not this discussion again. Please. Anything but this. Nationwide drivers in Cup. something. ANYTHING.
Amy: It’s not just in the Chase. There need to be more points for winning races.
Mike N.: Yes, it reveals that the points system is flawed and corrupt and the work of the devil. Racing should be all about winning and damned be the people who finish anywhere behind first.
Phil: The Chase is the Devil. That made me laugh. Reminds me of The Waterboy.
Amy: If there were more points and a LOT more money for winning, there wouldn’t need to be a Chase because winning would be the focus every week.
Summer: I think this “flaw” is more a result of the points system, even though I love the points system.
Amy: That said, I also think consistency rightfully plays a role.
Beth: Here we go again on this “The Chase is evil and doesn’t need to be here” conversation.
Amy: Only if you make it, Beth.
Summer: Even if it creates for some crappy racing, I don’t have a huge problem with consistency. If a driver finishes 12th one week and wins the next, he shouldn’t have a points advantage. And rewarding winning too much will bolster those who “luck” into wins like rain and fuel mileage. I’m _not_ saying those guys don’t deserve to win, but even I have to admit sometimes those are a little wonky.
Huston: I think Jeff Gordon’s Chase actually reveals more about the points flaw than anything else. Gordon’s finish in 3 of the 4 races has been in the top three, yet he’s made up few points. Either the Chase drivers deserve to have their own points system, or it’s time to change the points structure altogether.
Mike N.: Sure, change the points so the person who is last after each race is dropped from the drivers who can win the title. The last race will be three drivers racing for the glory.
Amy: There do need to be more points for winning any race, all year. But winning five races and finishing 30th five times shouldn’t make someone a champion over someone who wins twice but has eight top 10s.
Summer: I see nothing wrong with that. If you finish 30th five times you probably shouldn’t be a champion, I don’t care how it happened.
Phil: I wish they’d give this whole mess up, this Chase, but I’m convinced we’re stuck with it at least through 2014.
Summer: Why 2014?
Phil: The whole Chase mess is probably written into the current TV deal for ESPN. Killing the Chase would probably cause a breach in contract.
Amy: At least NASCAR’s getting rid of the top 35 rule… one step in the right direction.
Huston: The current points structure seems to penalize losing more than it helps winners — making a bad finish the worst thing a driver can have happen.
Amy: Huston is right… as we’ve seen, three great finishes can’t do anything if you have just one bad one.
Mike N.: I wrote about this issue in my commentary Monday. Gordon has made up five points since Chicago. There is just no way to make up a bunch of ground with the current point system.
Summer: Yeah, but wasn’t it a couple years ago Johnson won something like four years in a row? It’s not like there is no incentive.
Mike N.: Well Summer, the drivers who are contending for the championship are the best and they’re not going to have bad finishes. That’s why you can’t take chances with the point system now and, as a result, anyone who has a major problem is done.
Amy: In general, I like the current system, but it renders the Chase obsolete. The points would be close without it.
Summer: I see the negatives of that when it comes to good racing, but I don’t see the overall issue. Why is it bad to reward consistency? I don’t understand. I wouldn’t mind them getting rid of the Chase with the 43 to 1 points system. Overall I enjoy the Chase, but this system would be fine without it.
Amy: I don’t think it’s bad at all to reward consistency. But you can reward winning as well. Why not give ten bonus points for each win through the Chase?
Phil: Minus the Chase, this title race would be a pretty good battle. Also, Biffle would still be hurting without a Chase.
Summer: I’m fine with the points system the way it is. I’d be open to some changes, but I’m not asking for more emphasis on wins.
Mike N.: Johnson is 14 points out. So, using our simplistic system, he has to make up three points per race and he’ll win by four points.
Amy: Anyway, I think the 10-point bonus should stand. Would that put Kenseth back in it? No. But NASCAR says they want to reward winning, so they need to actually reward winning.
Phil: I’d argue that the “simplification” of the points system actually made it tougher to stay in touch, even though it was supposed to mirror the last system.
Mike N.: One win and three horrible finishes should not be rewarded that much. Kenseth was done after his second failure in the Chase.
Phil: Where is this 10-point bonus idea coming from, Amy? There hasn’t been any in a couple of years. It’s a 3-point bonus.
Amy: I like the 1-point system overall, but there could be more points for winning.
Summer: I don’t agree with that because it’s not like they are awarded _during_ the actual season, but I know where you’re coming from.

*The Camping World Truck Series is starting to look like the title fight will be settled between James Buescher and Ty Dillon. Is there another driver who can break up the party at the front?*

Beth: It’ll take a lot of good luck for Timothy Peters, Parker Kligerman or Joey Coulter combined with bad luck for Buescher and Dillon for anyone else to join in. However, with that said, the No. 7 team has been on a tear the last few races and with that first win out of the way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kligerman doing more.
Amy: It would take terrible luck by both Dillon and Buescher, but Peters and Kligerman each have an outside shot. I’d say money is hurting them a little, and bad luck a little more.
Phil: Dillon and Buescher have distanced themselves, and it’s a little hard to make up large gaps due to the smaller fields in the Truck Series.

On the heels of his breakthrough win, can Parker Kligerman also contend for the title, or is it simply a two-man race?

Summer: I don’t think anyone will catch either of them without a meltdown.
Beth: Agreed, Summer. I think it’s down to those two for the remainder of the season.
Huston: I think that you should not count out Timothy Peters. There’s four races and he’s only 26 back. A little misfortune by Dillon or Buescher and he’s right back in it.
Mike N.: Kligerman and/or Peters could give them a run if they win a handful of races. If Dillon or Buescher win a couple more, though they’ll probably slam the door on them.
Beth: But there’s always that chance.
Huston: I’d love to say that Kligerman has a chance, but 34 points out might be too many.
Amy: I agree, but I also don’t think a meltdown is out of the realm of possibility for either. Dillon is a rookie, and Buescher lacks maturity.
Beth: I disagree…. Buescher has matured tremendously this season. Remember, he could have as many as six wins if not for some bad luck earlier in the year.
Summer: And Kurt Busch has more of a rookie mentality than Ty Dillon. Ty will be fine.
Phil: It is true that Kligerman is on quite a run, but that 23rd at Iowa really hurt him. A decent finish there would really have him in the hunt.
Huston: Once again, all the trucks series shows is how unneeded the Chase is. This year seems like another in a long line when the battle has gone down to the final races.
Summer: I think both have their pros and cons. Obviously, the Chase can produce barnburners, too. Let’s not pretend like every Truck championship is this close.
Amy: Back to Dillon for a second. Mentality or no, lack of experience can hurt a driver. It’s not a lack of talent or focus, but sometimes just not having an extensive catalogue of ways to handle situations can be a disadvantage. Pressure in one race is different than pressure from several teams in a championship battle. Look at Kyle Busch in general and Denny Hamlin in 2010.
Beth: That’s part of being in the truck series, Amy. Most of these drivers _don’t_ have that experience yet but are there learning.
Amy: I get that, Beth. But it still remains to be seen whether success in individual races can equal a title in a tight race.
Mike N.: The team behind Dillon has the resources, but they’re also focusing on a Nationwide title. That distraction could open the door for Buescher. Don’t forget that Buescher had a hell of a run while missing one race last season.
Beth: Turner Motorsports has resources too, Mike…and plenty of them.
Amy: Turner and RCR have a lot more money than Red Horse, and it’s showing.
Phil: And Hendrick support. Can’t forget that. I know they’re not in the Truck Series, but there isn’t all that much of a difference between Nationwide and Truck Series engines.
Mike N.: I don’t think Turner has the resources behind them that RCR has. They have more than Red Horse but not as much as RCR,
Amy: Red Horse has done _so_ much with less. They’ve been incredible in that aspect.
Phil: Yes, you hear the reference to them bringing four trucks to Talladega for 3 teams during the SPEED telecast?
Beth: I’m pretty sure they were talking about Todd Bodine at the time. I’m not surprised, given that Bodine and Kligerman haven’t had all that much funding since joining the team.
Huston: By the way, it’s also amazing that Kligerman changed teams and is still hanging tough. Quite the season for him.
Amy: I don’t agree with some of the things RHR has done, but you have to hand it to them, they’re winning on a smaller budget. Peters doesn’t even have completely full funding. I just read that today.
Phil: No one does over there. Peters had the Service Central backing, but that ran out weeks ago. Someone needs to hook up with Red Horse. They’d be getting a bargain.
Amy: The trucks always seem to have a good championship battle, and this year is no exception. Why NASCAR doesn’t look at that series more closely and figure out what works so well is beyond me.
Amy: Switching gears real quick… when Speed goes away, how much of an afterthought foes the CWTS become?
Beth: It’s already an afterthought.
Mike N.: _Racing becomes_ an afterthought
Summer: Why do people keep saying its “going away”? I understand it’s being changed but when did they ever say they’d quit broadcasting racing?
Mike N.: No more practice coverage. No more qualifying coverage.
Amy: No Race Day, no Trackside.
Phil: I don’t know what’s happening there. Everything’s in play. It’s likely safe, but I don’t know.
Mike N.: You’ll still have Truck races but the rest of it is going to be drastically reduced or eliminated.
Amy: No Speed Report, no Wind Tunnel, no Victory Lane…
Phil: They would basically need another channel for the other stuff.
Mike N.: You may still get Speedcenter.
Phil: The qualifying coverage for Sprint Cup might stay as well.
Huston: As for the whole, the money that’s invested in Dillon will probably be what catapults him to the title.
Amy: I think the CWTS is safe in that they have a contract for broadcast, but overall, most racing coverage is toast. We need more soccer and stuff…
Mike N.: I thought NASCAR was going to buy SPEED. I really expected them to have their own channel but after they dumped a ton of people out of the NASCAR Media Group, I don’t see that happening anymore.
Phil: That was the plan a decade ago.

*Charlotte Predictions?*

Amy: In any case, lets have those Charlotte predictions. I’m going with the driver Danica says has pretty eyes: Kasey Kahne.
Phil: Those are basically infomercials on SPEED.
Summer: I’ll go with Jimmie Johnson.
Huston: Greg Biffle.
Phil: I’m going with Stewart. He’ll take advantage of his fine-tuned athletic body to win.
Beth: Oh, what the hell… assuming Kurt Busch doesn’t get suspended (which would be asinine), he starts out his tenure at Furniture Row with a bang. If he is suspended, let’s go with Matt Kenseth.
Mike N.: I’m going to take Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Amy: You can’t make two picks!
Mike N.: You can have a contingency pick if your primary pick gets suspended.
Beth: I’m not…I’m making one. I’m going with Kurt Busch unless he doesn’t race…

*Mirror Predictions 2012*

Welcome to our sixth 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

Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500

*Writer* *Pick* *Finishing Position* *Points*
Amy Henderson Brad Keselowski 7th 1
Beth Lunkenheimer Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 20th 0
Phil Allaway Juan Pablo Montoya 38th -2

_You can “click here”:https://frontstretch.com/md/37520/ to see race results from the full season._

*Points Standings*

Writer Points Behind Predictions (Starts) Wins Top 5s Top 10s
Mike Neff 39 25 *4* 10 16
Amy Henderson 39 27 1 *11* *21*
Kevin Rutherford 34 -5 22 2 *11* 14
Phil Allaway 25 -14 29 1 7 15
Matt Stallknecht 10 -23 2 2 2 2
Tom Bowles 8 -25 5 2 2 2
Rick Lunkenheimer 5 -28 1 1 1 1
Beth Lunkenheimer 3 -30 18 1 2 5
Summer Bedgood 1 -38 5 0 1 2
Tony Lumbis 1 -32 1 0 0 1
Jeff Meyer 0 -33 1 0 0 0
Jesse Medford -2 -35 1 0 0 0
Vito Pugliese -2 -37 1 0 0 0

*Connect with Amy!*

“Contact Amy Henderson”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14352/

*Connect with Beth!*

“Contact Beth Lunkenheimer”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14353/

*Connect with Phil!*

“Contact Phil Allaway”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/18440/

*Connect with Huston!*

“Contact Huston Ladner”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/40694/

*Connect with Mike!*

“Contact Mike Neff”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14354/

*Connect with Summer!*

“Contact Summer Bedgood”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/28526/

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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