NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: A Busch-Edwards Rivalry? Truck Series Prospects? & Judging the Season at Halfway …

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:
Tony Lumbis (Mondays/Rookie Report)
Vito Pugliese (Tuesdays/Voice Of Vito)
Mike Neff (Wednesdays/Power Rankings & Wednesdays/Full Throttle)
Amy Henderson (Fridays/Holding A Pretty Wheel)
Matt Taliaferro (Thursdays/Fanning The Flames)
Kurt Allen Smith (Fridays/Happy Hour)
Bryan Davis Keith (Sundays/Nationwide Series Breakdown)

After their 1-2 finish at Dover – the second time it’s happened in the last month – people have been quick to point to Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards as “the next great rivalry.” Do you agree with that statement, or is there another one that sticks out in your minds that’s far more combative?

Amy: I don’t know if it’s so much a rivalry as it is nobody else can get the CoT that good. Neither of them is that much better than the rest of the top 10 in points. They just have better cars.
Mike: Busch/Edwards would be a great rivalry if Carl really cared about it. He doesn’t like losing, but he and Busch haven’t had a close duel yet.
Tony: It’s Kyle vs. Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the minds of the fans – not Kyle vs Edwards. I agree with Mike that those two really don’t even seem to acknowledge each other. There’s no bad blood there yet. I think you need two fiery personalities to create a good rivalry, and Carl is pretty laid back.
Matt T.: For a rivalry to occur, both drivers must have a level of success and a history with one another – a tempestuous history. I don’t think Kyle vs. Carl qualifies.
Vito: I think it’s just coincidence that on a couple of occasions, the No. 18 has outrun the No. 99. Busch really doesn’t have any mortal enemies… except maybe the fans. Or Steve Wallace.
Mike: If both keep running like they have been for the rest of the year and most of next year, then maybe they’ll dislike each other. But for now, Carl doesn’t seem to care; he just wants to run well. Now, if Kyle can dump Carl for a win or two, then something might come up. You may see Carl fake a punch like he did on Matt Kenseth.
Bryan: The only reason Kyle gets mentioned by Carl is as a benchmark to reach. It could be any other driver.
Amy: A real rivalry needs an obvious villain. Busch fits that bill, but I don’t know if Carl is the good guy you need to complete the picture.
Vito: Especially considering the comments made by several drivers about Edwards’ Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde demeanor. I think it’s more an issue of people trying to create a rivalry here, since the media has erroneously dubbed Busch a “villain” and Edwards is supposed to be his counterpoint.
Amy: Exactly, Vito. And it’s hard for Carl to be the good guy when you’re not really that way.
Matt T.: But Edwards doesn’t seem to let his occasional slip of the tongue affect him on the track. He’s not a jerk there, so he doesn’t ruffle many feathers in that realm.
Mike: I think Edwards is a genuinely nice guy. But he needs to win a Cup, as does Busch, before people will really care about a rivalry.
Matt T.: In the meantime, you want a combative rivalry? Try out Kenseth vs. Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart vs. Kurt Busch… heck, Stewart vs. half the field at one point or another.
Tony: Kenseth vs. Jeff Gordon a few years ago, even.
Vito: Look, it’s fodder for the papers and people who want to create controversy and excitement where there isn’t any (thank you big, dumb, ugly racecar). But Dale Earnhardt vs. Geoffrey Bodine it ain’t.
Bryan: It’s going to take an on-track episode to get this to rivalry mode.
Tony: One incident between the two could change things like Earnhardt and Wallace had at times.
Amy: Right now it’s nothing more than the two having better stuff than everyone else. That’s not a rivalry, that’s just boring.
Matt T.: But these guys don’t race like Earnhardt/Wallace/Waltrip anymore. Today’s drivers are a much more exclusive little club that practically live together. It’s hard for a true dislike to fester for too long to the point they try to knock each other out of a race one week later.
Vito: Which is why I like Juan Pablo Montoya and Robby Gordon. Helmet chuckin’, firesuit grabbin’, cussin’ on TV… now those are racecar drivers!
Tony: Yeah, even the Stewart vs. Kurt Busch “rivalry” has died down since Daytona.
Vito: Let’s be honest. Stewart doesn’t like anybody after they run into him. And who can blame him? Afterwards, he’s his usual congenial, soft-spoken self.
Mike: You want to know a good rivalry that could carry on for a while? Denny Hamlin vs. Brad Keselowski.
Vito: Denny, although he’s lost weight, has gotten a little too big for his Nomex britches lately. Would like to see how Brad evens the score.
Bryan: Hamlin may well end up with multiple rivalries if he keeps it up.
Matt T.: We have a rivalry void right now. I wish that would change.
Mike: If we get to the Chase and Edwards and Busch distance themselves and then start beating on each other for the title, we’ll have a rivalry. Until then, it’s media hype for something that doesn’t exist.
Vito: And even then, there’s no real tracks coming up where you’re going to get into it with somebody. 205 mph into turn 1 at Pocono or Michigan isn’t the place to be getting into a pissing contest.
Mike: No, but going into turn 3 at Pocono you can.
Tony: You can definitely “rattle someone’s cage” in turn 3. So, we’ll see…

The racing Sunday at Dover left something to be desired for many, just one week after the rear-end housing rules were put into place. There’s been a lot of talk about the problems of the CoT, but what are the solutions? If there is one rule or penalty NASCAR needs to rescind to make this car better, what would it be?

Vito: The first thing to do? Listen to the teams and give them what they want.
Bryan: Here’s one rule: stop making so many damned rules and let the teams work with the car.
Kurt: I’d like to see them get rid of the plow in the front.
Mike: Right. Cut off everything below the front bumper and life will be better.
Amy: NASCAR needs to allow teams to work with the front end of the thing. Raise the splitter about two inches and lose the bump stops.
Matt T.: Take 10 crew chiefs, sit them down in the R&D Center, and listen to what they have to say! The crew chiefs have to deal with these things all week, so they know what needs to be done to improve the product. For the life of me, I can’t understand why NASCAR would be so stubborn as to not listen to its best resource.
Mike: If you put 10 crew chiefs in a room, you’d get 10 different opinions, though.
Kurt: And NASCAR is way too severe with the penalties. Teams can’t even innovate.
Amy: Like we said last week, though, one big thing would be better tires to work with.
Tony: Right, Amy. I’m not so sure that the racing – or lack thereof – was a result of the car. Remember the old-school races always used to end with just a handful of cars on the lead lap.
Amy: I completely agree with that, Tony. For all the fans who wanted “old-school” racing, they got it!
Kurt: Long green runs will do that.
Bryan: The racing really wasn’t a problem at Dover, but the intermediates have been a problem and when they’re the schedule’s bread and butter, it’s cause for concern.
Vito: A. Remove splitter, put a normal air dam on it. B. Take off dumb wing, replace with normal spoiler. C. Use tires that are soft and wear out.
Vito: Open up the templates, allow some body configuration changes. Maybe allow rear gear choice again over and above the two that they have to pick from. Because I’ll tell you what, Toyota is going to continue to kill them on power.
Amy: NASCAR needs to approve the engine improvements that would allow Chevy, Ford and Dodge to make equal horsepower to Toyota. NASCAR’s job is not to help a manufacturer get going, it’s to make everyone play by the same rules.
Bryan: And gear choice would be huge, especially this weekend. It’s a lot more horsepower at Pocono since NASCAR took the gear choice out of the equation.
Kurt: You know, they should have let the teams work with this car the first year, established what could be done, and then drop the hammer if they must.
Mike: Well, the racing at Charlotte was good. I don’t think we need to be changing a lot yet. Like DW has said, when they went to the smaller cars, it took a while to get them back to where they were with the big cars. Didn’t everyone think the race at Charlotte was good?
Matt T.: It was a good race. Not great.
Amy: The race at Charlotte was good.
Vito: At least it wasn’t a Jimmie Johnson benefit like it had become.
Bryan: Charlotte was better than any other intermediate, but that’s not saying much this year.
Tony: I thought Charlotte was pretty good.
Kurt: The end of the Charlotte race was great.
Vito: It was decent, but come on… that’s about as good as it’s going to get with this sled they’re working with.
Matt T.: And the 600 is a totally different beast, with varying strategies.
Mike: So, if Charlotte was good, let’s let them keep going. They’re getting better and better. It takes a little while. This is the first full year for the new design.
Amy: They had more green flag passes at Charlotte than with the old car a year ago, actually.
Vito: But you have a 900 horsepower car that can’t turn. Awesome. I can watch that all day long too. It’s called NHRA Pro Stock.
Kurt: It’s going to take some time. Crew chiefs are a creative bunch, and they’ll figure it out. That doesn’t make it any less ugly in the short term, though.
Mike: This thing isn’t supposed to be easy to drive. This is the best stock car racing in the world. I promise you a 1977 Chevy Impala didn’t turn worth a crap, but the drivers who were good made it work.
Amy: Yes, they’re hard, but that’s the point: At this level, it shouldn’t be easy.
Matt T.: I agree there, Amy, but I do think it would only be obvious to get feedback from the crew chiefs and put it to good use.
Amy: I agree, but I don’t think they should make huge changes when teams are finally starting to adjust.
Kurt: The thing is, we were assured how much better this car was going to be, remember? More side-by-side racing, more passing, etc. NASCAR was full of BS on that.
Vito: Well, here’s the bad thing. To me, the best racing in North America, right now, is not NASCAR. That’s the first time I think that’s been able to be said in decades.
Mike: No, its not. It’s been the World of Outlaws forever. They just don’t get the pub because they race so much they can’t get a TV contract.
Bryan: NASCAR will never be able to top dirt. Mike’s right.
Vito: I never really got into WoO. The cars get covered in mud, I can’t tell who’s who, then one of them goes flipping out of the joint.
Matt T.: Thursday Night Thunder… loved it. Still have the theme music in my head sometimes.
Mike: If you’ve ever seen it in person, it is unbelievable. And they got around Bristol two seconds faster than the Cup cars.
Kurt: The Nationwide Series races have been more fun to watch, actually. Seems like the old cars were a lot smoother getting around the track.
Vito: I just like the look of the old cars. I can’t stand looking at these CoTs. They are physically the most repulsive thing on wheels since the Subaru BRAT and Dodge Rampage.
Kurt: You’re right, Vito, they aren’t aesthetically appealing. And that matters.
Amy: They look more like street cars than the old car.
Vito: They look nothing like a street car, unless you’re a dopey kid with zits, that stupid comb-across-your face, I’m-14-and-I’m-angry-at-my-father haircut, and roll a tarted up Civic with an erector set wing.
Bryan: Why don’t we make the teams build early ’90s model stock cars and race those? Or stop handing out 150-point penalties. Lay off and let the teams that make the sport work make the cars work.
Kurt: Seriously, get rid of the splitter so it isn’t a plow, back off on the penalties some, and let ’em race.
Mike: I’ve screamed for years to get rid of the front valence. But I just don’t think it will happen. That is the worst thing that ever happened to stock car racing.
Amy: Yeah, go back to that wicker under the front bumper.
Mike: The new car is doing well. The teams are getting better at it. Drivers are spoiled and need to learn how to drive a racecar like the old boys could.
Vito: I hate the COT. Bring back manufacturer identity, ditch the wings, the splitter, and get some tires that wear out.
Bryan: Amen to tires that wear out. As much as I liked seeing Scott Speed win, that was ridiculous with two tires.

LUNKENHEIMER: TRACKING THE TRUCKS AFTER DOVER

Tony: I definitely agree with the manufacturer identity. There is something wrong when a team can change makes in a matter of two weeks.
Amy: But where do you draw the line with penalties, then?
Mike: I had no problem with the penalties…
Kurt: You’ll see when the Chase comes, Amy. No way do they give 150 points to a Chase team. Bank on it.
Mike: Everyone bitched that the penalties weren’t curbing cheating. Now they are.
Vito: If they open up the rules a bit there won’t be as many penalties, nor will they be as severe. Look what the penalties were in relationship to: Rear-wing brackets and playing with the fenders.
Amy: I had no problem with them either, nor making them straighten them out.
Matt T.: I’m of the opinion that NASCAR over-penalizes anyway, so don’t get me started on that… NASCAR calls it the garage area “self-policing.”
Mike: When four different teams go to the trailer and tell NASCAR to look at one team, I think it was pretty obvious.
Matt T.: Well, I don’t know where the line is, but I think it’s gotten a little out of hand when you can’t massage a fender.
Vito: It used to be every once in awhile, you’d get a guy for having a car that was 1/8 or 1/4 of an inch too low. Now, they’re rigging up wing brackets to move. Come on… plus, it was the Hendrick R&D team that got busted. A team that’s on the cusp of falling out of the Top 35. I don’t see anyone ratting out RCR or Gibbs for any creative engineering.
Amy: But how do you determine what passes? These fit the template but could barely roll onto the scale. The funky fenders last year fit the template, too.
Mike: But there was cheating in the old car, too. What about Randy Lajoie about putting valve springs on his rear deck-lid pins to allow the spoiler to drop out of the air more at Talladega?
Matt T.: That was a great one, Mike. Kudos to Randy & crew.
Vito: Plate cheating is at least respectable. I mean, come on. Adjustable rear windows, moving parts in the intake plenum, valve springs in deck lids… now that’s ingenuity.
Mike: I personally loved shocks that made the back end higher. That was genius.
Amy: Yes, and all using legal parts at the time they were done.
Vito: Bill Elliott‘s 9/10 scale Thunderbird…

Halfway through the regular season, let’s do a little midseason report card. What teams and drivers have impressed you the most, and why? Along those same lines, who’s been the biggest disappointment? And what drivers and teams that were initially labeled as championship contenders are the ones to watch in the season’s second half?

Kurt: Gibbs obviously has been great. Hamlin has been very dominant in races he hasn’t won.
Matt T.: Impressed: David Ragan. A fifth at Darlington was a statement, and he’s 13th in the points.
Bryan: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Nine top 10s, leading laps at every type of racetrack, and carrying the Hendrick banner. Also, Travis Kvapil in a top-20 car without a sponsor.
Tony: Absolutely on Kvapil. And he had some that got away, like California, where he would’ve been a definite top 10.
Kurt: Yes, Kvapil definitely. How has that guy gone without a ride for so long?
Matt T.: Would someone please sponsor the No. 28!
Amy: I’ll say Brian Vickers. He’s gone from DNQ every other week last year to running in the top 10.
Mike: But despite all these underdogs, Gibbs is the class of the field right now, with Roush Fenway running a relatively close second.
Kurt: I think Hendrick is starting to find it. They’re disappointing compared to last year, but they also smoked the field. But back to surprises… I’m also actually kind of impressed with AJ Allmendinger‘s performance in the All-Star Challenge.
Vito: The biggest surprise, I think, has been Patrick Carpentier. Sunday’s results left something to be desired, but the guy has qualified on time for 10 of 13 races.
Mike: I find it hard to believe, but Ganassi is actually worse than I thought they would be.
Bryan: Disappointed: Penske Racing in general. They were a frontrunner in CoT races last year and now they’re lost.
Tony: I’m surprised Ryan Newman hasn’t been able to build on his momentum from Daytona.
Matt T.: Disappointed: Kurt Busch. No top 10s since freakin’ Daytona. This is the ’04 champ, ya’ll.
Kurt: I thought Penske would be better this year, but they have not been. I wonder if they’re lacking stability with all of the shuffling with the No. 77.
Bryan: You should have heard Newman on the radio at Charlotte… that team just sounds off.
Amy: Biggest disappointment is, in my mind, the No. 48.
Matt T.: He’s like seventh in points, Amy!
Mike: How is Johnson a disappointment?
Bryan: Amy, Johnson can’t win 10 races and own the field every season.
Amy: No, but he should be in the top five every week. If this thing ended today, Johnson would walk away with the worst points finish of his career. Four top fives and five top 10s in 13 races… for that team, that’s terrible.
Vito: My biggest disappointment: Either Matt Kenseth or Jamie McMurray. McMurray has just not gotten any traction at all this year, or last year, for that matter. A gust of wind one way or another, and he’s still winless since 2002.
Kurt: Kenseth hasn’t been bad, he’s just had a lot of bad luck. Roush overall has been very good.
Vito: Huh? Kenseth has been an absolute disaster this season. I still have a feeling that you will see Robbie Reiser back atop that pit box by season’s end.
Mike: Reiser isn’t going back on the road. Kenseth is 15th in points with some hideous luck.
Bryan: Kenseth is on the upswing. He and Chip Bolin are starting to click.
Matt T.: Well, the No. 17 was my team to watch in the season’s second half. They were like 22nd four races ago and are up to 16th now, only 100 points or so out of 12th. I think the chemistry will take hold this summer.
Tony: Agreed with Matt about Matt. He’s going to make another one of those comebacks for the Chase like he did a few years ago.
Vito: Kind of funny that the only Roush team where things seem like they’re all chummy is the No. 6 of Ragan and Fennig.
Kurt: Over at Gibbs, it’s not overwhelming me that Stewart hasn’t won yet, but it is surprising that he hasn’t even been in contention very often.
Tony: One guy that is getting overlooked a lot is David Reutimann. For the most part, he is turning in top-20 finishes, and got a career-best 10th in Charlotte. And Casey Mears is one of the biggest disappointments. No need to say more, as we’ve talked about it enough this year.
Kurt: How is Mears a disappointment? It’s not like we’re used to him dominating.
Mike: Mears is Mears. I think he’s close to being out of a ride. Especially if Stewart becomes available.
Matt T.: Mears is a disappointment the same as McMurray is. In other words, he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be.
Tony: Mears is with a team that has made the Chase the past few years, and they aren’t even on the radar screen this year.
Vito: Mears is happy with his role at Hendrick: Make some good jack and run the R&D car for his buddies Jeff and Jimmie. It isn’t like he’s going to land a better ride anywhere else that will win.
Amy: You think Hendrick was going to make Junior the R&D guy, Tony? Someone has to be… couldn’t be Four-Time, Two-Time or Most Popular.
Vito: If his last name wasn’t Mears, do you really think he’d still be in Cup?
Bryan: Mears may be happy, but are his sponsors? They’re shelling out mad bucks to be on a Hendrick ride and the No. 5 is the ugly duckling.
Tony: Maybe Mears is happy with the R&D guy, but it makes me wonder how long Alan Gustafson will be around. He got used to winning the past few years, and I can’t see him putting up with this for long.
Vito: At least his driver doesn’t call him out on national television anymore.
Mike: No, but he should be closer to winning once in a while. Ken Schrader even won a few times for Hendrick in that car.
Vito: Hah, yeah, like 17 years ago. Actually, I think that was his last win… Dover 1991.
Kurt: I don’t buy the R&D car stuff. What does a team learn from the slowest guy? Mears has had a couple races where he ran well but something happened – Daytona was one.
Matt T.: Daytona is a crapshoot.
Bryan: R&D or not, they shouldn’t be as far off the rest of Hendrick as they are. They’re largely a backmarker.
Amy: Yeah, Mears has had horrendous luck. He could have won Daytona.
Matt T.: Bad luck? What, for his whole career?
Bryan: Reed Sorenson could have won Daytona, too.
Vito: Well after you get the Nos. 24, 48 and 88 figured out and everyone is already about to light themselves on fire because they haven’t won nine races yet, the No. 5 is probably going to take a backseat to them.
Mike: Put Stewart in that car and it won’t run that badly.
Matt T.: Exactly, Mike.
Amy: Put Stewart in that car and watch the team chemistry disintegrate, too.
Mike: I’ll take Stewart and bad chemistry over Mears and bad finishes any day. New topic: I’m a little surprised by Vickers. Red Bull was pretty out to lunch last year.
Bryan: Vickers ran well on intermediates last year, with top 10s at Fontana and Charlotte. They weren’t as lost as MWR. Doug Richert left them with great notes on intermediate setups.
Matt T.: I was actually expecting a bit more out of Vickers’ team this year.
Kurt: There’s fewer cars in the entry list now, so Vickers gets a chance to prove himself. And proving himself he is.
Vito: That Red Bull team is not as big as everyone thinks. It is a pretty small operation. It reminds me a lot of MB2 Motorsports in the early 2000s.
Amy: I’m a little surprised at how well Allmendinger is doing since his return… a little surprised by the performance of the No. 5 and by how well the No. 18 is running. And I’m a lot surprised by how bad the Nos. 24 and 48 are.
Vito: They aren’t bad!
Amy: By what standards, guys? By the standards that HMS set the last few years, they are bad.
Vito: OK, they haven’t won 10 races this year, but check the stats: Gordon: six top fives, seven top 10s; Johnson: one win, four top fives, five top 10s and a pole.
Kurt: Others have caught up, Amy. And Hendrick spent everything winning the championship last year.
Matt T.: Yep. Lots of testing going on by other teams in the Chase while HMS was competing.
Bryan: Hendrick is on the cusp. They’re in the ballpark. And if it ended today, they’re in the Chase.
Amy: I was blindsided by how this season has gone for them. Gordon has finished out of the top 10 this year in 13 races. That’s as many times as he did all last season.
Kurt: He had, what… 30 top 10s last year? No one will top that this year.
Vito: Gordon had a suspension let go at Daytona. Got wrecked while running third at Las Vegas. He got wrecked at Texas.
Matt T.: Again Amy, you realize both the Nos. 24 and 48 are like sixth and seventh in points, right?
Amy: Yes, Matt.
Matt T.: I’ve said my piece about the No. 24 and 48, so I’ll let that go, but I’m glad you mentioned the No. 18, Amy. Regardless of how good a driver we knew Kyle was, no one saw this coming… and with a new team and manufacturer.
Bryan: Gotta wonder if testing is why the No. 18 is picking up. They had nothing to do last season but prep for Kyle with no Chase and JJ Yeley on the outs. My biggest surprise is the Nos. 18 and the 88. Biggest disappointment: Penske, Penske, Penske!
Kurt: Ragan and Kvapil have been pleasant surprises while Stewart has been fairly disappointing.
Matt T.: Surprise: Ragan; Disappointment: Kurt Busch; Team to Watch: No. 17.
Kurt: Kurt Busch has been disappointing. Team to watch… Just keep watching the Nos. 18 and 99!

In the past three weeks, we’ve had three first-time winners in the Truck Series: Matt Crafton, Donny Lia and Speed. Which of these drivers has the best chance to graduate to Sprint Cup in the future?

Vito: Speed. You will see him in a Red Bull Cup car in short order. The owner of the company loves him. Plus, you know, he’s actually pretty damned good.
Amy: I think Speed will be the best of that group.
Bryan: Speed, because he has the infinite purses of Red Bull behind him.
Mike: Probably Speed. Red Bull has a lot invested in him already. That and he’s adapted very, very fast – faster than Juan Pablo Montoya, even.
Kurt: I think Speed was put into a truck to eventually compete in Cup.
Matt T.: If Allmendinger doesn’t pick it up, it’ll be Speed.
Bryan: Allmendinger, if he doesn’t pick it way up, will be out for Speed at year’s end, which is a shame – because if AJ got the same chance to develop that Speed is, he’d be that good.
Tony: Definitely Speed now that Team Red Bull is picking up momentum. It might be right around the time that they are ready to field a third car, as well.
Mike: Crafton doesn’t have much of a shot at all. He’s been at this too long.
Kurt: Crafton qualified the No. 7 for Robby Gordon. That could be a hint of things to come.
Mike: Lia might get a shot if he can find a sponsor. Otherwise, he’s most likely a Truck and Nationwide driver.
Bryan: Lia’s way too unpolished to be considered for a Cup ride right now.
Kurt: Lia showed a lot of heart in that win, and it was a great race. Someone probably noticed.
Amy: Lia’s problem is, he’s not really the “look” a sponsor wants these days.
Kurt: Amy, that is one of the great travesties of today’s NASCAR.
Amy: I agree completely.
Tony: Yeah Amy, I thought I was in a time warp watching that race at Mansfield.
Mike: No doubt. There are some rough drivers that could be great, just not great pitchmen.
Amy: But does anyone think that if Keselowski didn’t drive for Junior, he’d have a ride?
Tony: I think Keselowski would have a ride with someone. An owner would have realized his potential after the truck race and how he filled in for Bobby Gerhart in ARCA.
Kurt: Without all of the Cup guys, he keeps his ride, no problem.
Bryan: Keselowski was on pace to getting a ride anyway.
Amy: Brad’s a good driver, but he isn’t going to be making a lot of commercials.
Matt T.: Keselowski has made something out of his shot. I like the kid.
Mike: Keselowski will be in Cup and doing commercials before you know it.
Kurt: Yeah, I see Keselowski coming up soon. Maybe in the No. 5.
Bryan: Keselowski may well end up doing some races for Haas before the end of the season.
Tony: Yeah, the team of the future could be Keselowski and Stewart.
Amy: Hmm. When he wins a Nationwide race or five, we can talk Cup.
Bryan: Speed is proof positive that drivers need to be given time to develop. I love that Speed is running ARCA. He’s learning the way drivers should.
Vito: Yes… wrecking with the best of them. If you’re going to totally wad one up, nobody does it better than ARCA.
Kurt: I think Speed is in Cup in two years.
Matt T.: Speed will take AJ’s spot after this season. Just my prediction.
Bryan: I second that.
Mike: Speed will be in Cup, but I think it will be a third Red Bull car.

Predictions for Pocono?

Kurt: I say Junior breaks into the win column this week.
Amy: Long race, big weird track… Edwards again.
Vito: I’m finally putting to rest all of the nonsense and going with Jeff Gordon.
Mike: I think Hamlin pulls it off.
Matt T.: Hamlin. Book it.
Bryan: Hamlin by a mile.
Tony: Stewart breaks through to begin the summer season.
Kurt: That Gordon pick’s pretty bold, Vito, given how he ran in testing.
Vito: Maybe it’ll rain or something.
Bryan: I almost hope Gordon wins, just so I don’t have to hear about the horrors of Hendrick’s season any more!
Mike: Maybe Johnson will win so Amy can get off of suicide watch.

2008 Mirror Prediction Chart

Not sure which writer’s prediction to trust? Well, here’s a little inside info for you – our 2008 Mirror Prediction Chart tracks just how well their picks are panning out. Every week, we give each writer the number of Sprint Cup points his driver earned during the race – and if they skipped out on Mirror, well, then, they’re plumb out of luck! At the end of the season, we’ll tally up the totals and crown our Mirror Driving champion – chief prognosticator amongst all our experts! Editor-In-Chief Tom Bowles won the award in 2007.

This week, Amy Henderson took advantage of Tony Lumbis’s off week to creep back into the season-long championship lead. But it’s not by much, as we hit the halfway point of the “regular” season with Frontstretch.

Writer Points Behind Predictions (Starts) Wins Top 5s Top 10s
Amy Henderson 1911 -0 14 1 4 8
Tony Lumbis 1844 -0 14 3 5 8
Bryan Davis Keith 1706 -205 11 2 7 9
Vito Pugliese 1470 -441 11 0 6 8
Mike Neff 1346 -565 10 0 4 6
Matt Taliaferro 1094 -750 8 0 3 5
Tom Bowles 1074 -837 10 0 1 4
Kurt Smith 573 -1338 6 0 1 2
Tommy Thompson 500 -1411 4 0 2 2
Beth Lunkenheimer 341 -1570 3 0 1 1
Danny Peters 190 -1721 1 1 1 1
Jeff Meyer 94 -1817 1 0 0 0
Kim DeHaven 0 -1911 0 0 0 0

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