Jeff Meyer · Thursday May 26, 2005
Since we have now passed NASCAR’s All-Star break, I thought it might be a good idea to stop and take another look at the way things are shaping up.
At the beginning of the season, the Supreme Beings that run Frontstretch.com asked us minions for our predictions for the end of the 2005 season. They only wanted 10 positions, but being the over achiever that I am, I gave them 15. The following is my list, as I submitted it to them. It reflects how I feel the ’05 season will end up, along with a few comments about each driver. The number in parenthesis behind the driver’s name reflects the position they were in when my first review was published on April 14th. The number behind that, is where they stand now. Laugh all you want, but on April 14th, 10 of my 15 picks were in the top 15. Now, that number has improved to 11 of 15! New comments are in emphasis.
If we were to ‘cut to the Chase’ right now, believe it or not, a total of 19 drivers would be in the hunt! Of my original 15 picks, only 2 would NOT be included. Both are big names and past Champions! They are Matt Kenseth and Bobby Labonte!There is plenty of season left, so we will check back often. Email me if you want me to pick your lottery numbers for you. (For a small percentage of any winnings, of course.)
#1. Dale Jarrett (was 10th) now 14th
What can I say? DJ is my favorite driver. He wants to win another Cup as badly as I want him to! Dale has always been a late charger. He hasn’t been running badly, just not up to his expectations. As long as he stays within 400 points, I will be happy.
#2.Jeff Gordon (was 6th) now 3rd
Like him or not, Jeff will get Cup #5 sooner or later. Their motto will be “Cup #5 in 2005!” Due to DJ’s late charge however, they will have to “try new tricks in 2006”! Jeffy is settling in just about where I said he would be. He will win a few more races, which is good because when he wins, I win $! (It is a long story, but so far Preppy owes me a bundle!)
#3.Ryan Newman (was 8th) now 7th
The ‘Rocket’ should have a good year, but will end up a disappointing 3rd after some untimely crashes late in the season. I don’t win any money with Newman, but he is on my fantasy team, so it is good to see him improving.
#4.Elliott Sadler (was 3rd) now 4th
Yates has something to prove. He will have both his cars in the top five this year. No matter what the cost. Still can’t find a reason Elliott would be out of the top 5 by the cut.
#5.Kurt Busch (was 9th) now 5th
I’m not a Busch fan, but if he continues as last year, he will do ok. However, he has too many enemies to repeat. Besides, NASCAR would never allow a repeat Champ in this day and age, with one possible exception… Except for his little tantrum a couple of weeks ago, Kurt has been flying quietly under the radar. He is another staple on my fantasy team.
#6.Dale Earnhardt Jr. (was 16th) now 11th
As popular a Jr. is, I think he is gonna find winning a Cup as hard as Sr. did winning the Daytona 500. Once he does win one, he will when again the next year, and then never again. (Unlike Dad however, he will have several Daytona 500 rings) I said it before, and I’ll say it again! There is turmoil in the DEI camp. With Rondeau stepping down as Jr’s crew chief, Shane Hmiel better hope his dad, Steve Hmiel, who is filling in as interim crew chief, has better success. Where would the Hmiel’s be without there connections at DEI?
#7.Bobby Labonte (was 37th) now 31st
’05 will be the year of the veteran. These older guys are sick to death of everyone saying they are washed up. It has lit a fire in their souls and put lead in their foot! Remember, ‘Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill anyday!’ Ok, I’ll admit that 6 places is slow progress, but it IS progress! ‘05 will still be the ‘year of the veterans’.
#8.Mark Martin (was 4th) now 10th
This will be Mark’s last chance. See above. Maybe a drop in the standings, but a million dollars richer!
#9.Rusty Wallace (was 7th) now 12th
Ok, call me crazy, but hey, he’s still got lots of racing left in him and like Mark, is running out of time. Rusty’s got alot of irons in the fire now, but I still would count on him being within 400 pts. at the cutoff.
#10.Michael Waltrip (was 30th) now 17
Mikey wants to show DEI a thing or two before they send him packing. I would love to see him actually in the 6th spot! Mikey is the big mover since the April running of this article! While the rest of the NASCAR world is focused on poor little Jr and his crew, Mikey will continue to reap the benefits and quietly keep improving. (If Mikey can do ANYTHING quietly…)
#11.Jimmie Johnson (was 1st) still 1st
(Oops! Crash, Crash, Crash! Not a good year for JJ) Ok, he may still be in first, but it aint by the margin he was in April. By the next review, JJ will NOT be in first and will be crying about it.
#12.Jamie McMurray (was 15th) now 9th
(Big disappointment this year. He will talk a lot and blame others for his problems) Perhaps I meant to include that earlier comment with the pick above! Who knows? Maybe dating Rusty’s daughter has got him motivated. (Didn’t Jamie have a hot girlfriend before? What happened to her? Is she available? Does she read FS.com? Hey babe, dial 319-22…)
#13.Jeremy Mayfield (was 17th) now 16th
(Could swap spots with Mark Martin. Hey, I’m no psyhic!) No, I’m no psyhic, but this is another guy who is just riding around quietly. Definately look for Jeremy to be within 400 pts.
#14.Matt Kenseth (was 21st) still 21st
(New qualifying format not gonna help him one bit!) Everyone still trying to figure out just what WILL help him one bit!
#15.Carl Edwards (was 11th) now 13
(Could be a surprise top 5 finisher too. Ask me halfway through the year) Where I was cautiously optimistic before, I now throw caution to the wind! Carl WILL be a top five finisher, and a veteran of even MORE backflips!
So there ya have it! I am STILL confident that by the time the checkers drop at Homestead, this list, like the planets, will align perfectly!
Stay off the wall,
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