The Frontstretch: Beginning or an End-Fantasy Insight by Dennis Michelsen -- Thursday May 5, 2005

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Beginning or an End-Fantasy Insight

Dennis Michelsen · Thursday May 5, 2005


Beginning or an End-Fantasy Insight
Darlington Raceway
Are we looking at a new tradition here at the “Lady in Black” or are we about to see the end of another classic track? Opinions on that run the gamut and so far NASCAR has been quiet about the future of Darlington. As a long time fan of NASCAR I just can’t imagine a race season without the track that is too tough to tame on the schedule. But I also felt the same way about Rockingham and North Wilkesboro too. Progress NASCAR style is turning into a four-letter word! The more things change the more SOME things need to stay the same. Darlington is the last real measuring stick to compare yester year’s stars to today’s heroes. Sure this new guy can drive 190mph into the corner without lifting at Texas, but how will he handle 500 miles of slipping and sliding at the old “Lady in Black?” Wouldn’t it be a rotten shame if we weren’t able to see what that answer is? Come on NASCAR keep Darlington on the schedule. Those of us who look at the past as something special need this place. It is our last remaining classic track to love.

Week One of Segment Two Starts This Week

Check out for rules and to see how you can get in the game! (Deadline each week is 5pm EST Saturday if the Cup race is on Sunday and 5pm EST Friday if the race is on a Saturday)

SEGMENT TWO STARTS THIS WEEK! Free to enter as always!

Dodge Charger 500 by the Numbers
Check out for the complete Power Ratings for Darlington.

Darlington Horses for Courses Ratings Top Five
Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Elliot Sadler, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart

Consistency Ratings Top Five
Jeff Gordon, Elliot Sadler, Jeremy Mayfield, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman

Power Ratings Top Five
Elliot Sadler, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr

Handicapping the Race

Top Pick (12th Last Week; 2 for 9 for Season, Expect Top 5)
Elliot Sadler- Might have the edge on horsepower this week and Elliot is ready to win an important race (25-1 Odds)

Strong Picks (1st, 2nd, 15th Last Week; 13 for 27 for Season, Expect Top 10)
Tony Stewart- One of the best driving on worn out tires and at Darlington the tires go bad just pushing the car to the starting grid (15-1 Odds)

Jimmie Johnson- As consistent as can be and this is a good track for Jimmie too (9-2 Favorite)

Kurt Busch- Another guy that drives good when the tires go bad
(8-1 Odds)

Hunch Bet (6th Last Week; 4 for 9 for Season, Expect Top 10)
Mark Martin- If this race ends up being the last Cup race at Darlington, it would be very fitting for this cagey old veteran to win (12-1 Odds)

Longshot (23rd Last Week; 3 for 9 for Season, Expect Top 15)
Jeff Burton- Just like Noble Causeway in the Kentucky Derby, Jeff is a huge overlay in this race (40-1 Odds)

Another Kind of Horse Power- Rating the Kentucky Derby
Twenty young, talented horses are going to the post Saturday for the 131st running of the Kentucky Derby. After extensive handicapping and the tossing of a few darts I have your winner!

Top Pick- Afleet Alex: Had a monster race at the Arkansas Derby and is the sentimental pick indeed. (Part of his winnings goes to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a charity we told you about last year!) All sentiment aside, he only has had one bad race in his career when he was sick and first time Derby rider Jeremy Rose will not be psyched out.

Perfecta Box- There is money to be made by trying to beat the favorite Bellamy Road; just like the Yankees this Steinbrenner horse can be beat! Take Afleet Alex, Bandini, High Fly, and Noble Causeway in a perfecta box and get ready to cash a nice price ticket!

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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Dennis no longer contributes to the Frontstretch, but you can Dennis's commentary at his website bio and archive page.