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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Best Race Ever?, Finicky Felix & Doubleheader Dangers

Welcome to Mirror Driving. Every Wednesday, 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
Phil Allaway (Tuesdays/Talking NASCAR TV & Frontstretch Newsletter)
Jeff Meyer (Wednesdays/Top 10 & Thursdays/Voices From The Heartland)
Amy Henderson (Fridays/Holding A Pretty Wheel)
Beth Lunkenheimer (Fridays /Frontstretch Truck Series Reporter)
Kurt Allen Smith (Fridays/Happy Hour)
Summer Dreyer (Mondays/Running Their Mouth & Frontstretch News Reporter)

The Aaron’s 499 featured a record 88 lead changes and three green-white-checkered attempts. Did that make it one of the best races ever, or was it just more of the same at a restrictor-plate track?

Kurt: Sigh… it couldn’t be, because no one could stay up front. It’s plate racing. All 88 lead changes means is that leading doesn’t matter.
Jeff: It was a good race actually, but I still assert that one GWC is enough.
Amy: I agree with Kurt, and that anyone could lead if you hooked up with the right guy. It was about 450 miles longer than it needed to be to produce the same result.
Summer: I think it was both! But it’s not likely you’d see even half that many lead changes on any other type of track.
Phil: I knew something like what we saw Sunday was possible. Remember last fall’s race that everyone hated? That still had 58 lead changes.
Beth: It was a pretty good race, but I agree with Jeff: I could have done without three GWC finishes.
Jeff: I’m not gonna diss the return of the spoiler, though. It is a good thing.
Amy: I don’t think the spoiler made a huge difference. And one GWC is more than enough. I never had a problem with ending under yellow if it was necessary.
Summer: I didn’t notice any huge difference with the spoiler. The fall race was ridiculous more so because of the rule changes than the wing.
Beth: It wasn’t the lead changes that fascinated me so much as it was the near-constant side-by-side battles.
Amy: It was Talladega, it’s all side-by-side.
Kurt: I thought it was an awful race. Plates plus multiple GWCs equals a demolition derby where the winner is the last guy standing. The top-four guys were all drivers who stayed back the whole race. What does that say?
Beth: It says they employed the right strategy.
Phil: They just thought that the drivers were going to be more conservative.
Jeff: If you remember, the guys in the booth, before the race said to be prepared for a lot of single-line racing. They were dead wrong.
Kurt: Drivers went to the front, got shuffled back, went to the front and repeat. And cars will go airborne again at a plate track.
Summer: Well yeah, they went airborne before the CoT was even a discussion.
Jeff: And not as much and not the minute they were backwards. The roof flaps can once again function now that the wing is gone.
Kurt: Maybe, but I don’t think anyone should believe it won’t happen. The Nationwide series hasn’t had a wing, and it happens quite a bit.
Beth: Happened Sunday, actually.
Amy: Exactly, Kurt. The NNS race proved that you can fly with a spoiler.
Beth: The Cup Series proved that before the wing.
Phil: That was more bouncing into the air than flying.
Jeff: It’s gonna happen sometime, that is the nature of the beast.
Summer: You can’t really complain about boring cookie-cutter tracks and then hate restrictor-plate racing, guys. You don’t get that kind of constant two- or three-wide racing anywhere else. I was of the mindset that that’s what everyone wanted.
Amy: It’s not racing, Summer. It’s a free-for-all. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said it best, it’s a lottery. Just pick the winner from a hat and be done with it.
Summer: But I thought that’s what we wanted! Unpredictability!
Jeff: You are never gonna get a completely safe race. When they try, I quit watching.
Kurt: But plate races are over the top. The fence was tested once again this weekend. Ryan Newman and Junior had it right when they said we shouldn’t do this for points. It’s a total crapshoot. I prefer the cookie-cutter track to plate tracks, Summer, just not to anywhere else if that makes sense.
Jeff: Bristol and M’Ville are crapshoots as well!
Kurt: At short tracks, maybe five cars will get taken out in a big one, rarely more.
Phil: I’ve seen huge wrecks at short tracks before. I saw a 19-car crash in a Hooters Pro Cup race at Winchester once.
Amy: At a short track, they have throttle response to avoid stuff or they have time to brake. And you can move a guy without wrecking 79 cars. A schedule with fewer cookie-cutter tracks and zero plate races wouldn’t break my heart, that’s for sure.
Kurt: Look at all of the guys that DNF’d this week. Jeff Burton had one of the best cars and ended up, what, 31st? Happens all the time at ‘Dega.
Jeff: Jeff B. was winning Texas too, wasn’t he?
Summer: At basically any other track, there are a handful of guys who are probably going to win unless fuel strategy comes into play. At Daytona and Talladega, you really don’t know. Again, I thought that’s what we wanted. And you saw the big wreck at Texas… it happens sometimes.
Kurt: Not really, Summer. I think 20 guys can win in a given week anywhere.
Amy: I’d love to see anybody be able to win every week, Summer, but based on skill behind the wheel, not on blind luck.
Jeff: I’m with Summer. I thought it was a good race. Opinions about plate tracks, cookie cutters, etc. are like… well you know, everyone has one. No one is right.
Beth: Exactly. And I hate that as many guys got DNFs this weekend, but that’s part of the game.
Kurt: Restrictor-plate racing to me is not racing. If they’re all going the same speed, how is it racing? Of course the finishes are going to be close… everyone is doing 188 mph. Why is that a surprise?
Amy: At least at Daytona you actually need a decent setup and that can separate the best from the rest. I just don’t think there is a place for restrictor-plate racing in NASCAR, period. How many crashes on Sunday were caused by lack of throttle response? 90%? More?
Beth: Agreed.
Phil: It was a good race. Lots of action on the track.  I just wish we didn’t get those wrecks at the end.
Jeff: What race makes you happy, Amy?
Amy: Bristol, Martinsville, Iowa, Darlington, Dover, NHMS, ARCA at the Rock. A caution-free plate race might actually be a good race, too.
Kurt: Pocono!
Jeff: Are you kidding?
Summer: That’d be pretty boring. That would most likely mean they were single file the whole time.
Kurt: Most drivers hate it, and I think teams especially hate building a great racecar only to have it torn up because someone bump drafted someone else too hard.
Phil: We’ve had three caution-free races at Talladega since 1997. They’re not bad.
Jeff: Most of the drivers liked the racing this week.
Kurt: Not Newman, Junior or most of the guys caught up in the wreck. Of course, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray liked it.
Summer: They liked the racing at Daytona. I didn’t really notice either way with the drivers about here, with the exception of Newman.
Jeff: Obviously, not the ones who get wrecked, but they don’t like that at any track!
Amy: Of course they liked it! It was the first time some of them have seen the led this year.
 I’ll put it this way, though: I would not pay to go to Talladega as a fan. I might go if I was paid.
Jeff: I wouldn’t either, but not for those reasons.
Kurt: Mark Martin and Tony Stewart have both been vocal about plate racing. Even Dale Earnhardt hated it.
Phil: Earnhardt hated it, but was still the Grandmaster.
Kurt: He was among the best at it, but very often it totally comes down to aero and luck.
Summer: I just like it because at the end, you really don’t know who’s going to win. Though a lot of the races have been that way this year, you normally have a pretty good idea who stands the best chance. This weekend, you really truly didn’t know.
Kurt: You usually don’t know who’s going to win, Summer. Sometimes it’s interesting to see if a guy who dominated all day is going to pull it off. Look at Jeff Gordon at Vegas. I mean, I love McMurray, but he isn’t winning plate races because of driver skill.
Jeff: Plate racing is just another aspect of racing that you have to be good at. Some are good short trackers, some good on road courses – it’s all part of being a good racer; being able to be decent at it all.
Summer: Yeah, you don’t always know who’s going to win throughout most of the race, but usually by the time the white flag flies, you have a pretty good idea. On Sunday, people actually were left wondering until it was actually over.
Kurt: Guys wrecking on several attempts to finish the race didn’t look good. It should be one five-lap attempt. Give the guys time to make their move and figure it out.
Jeff: Well, I’ll agree with you on the GWCs. Three GWCs is BS! One is enough.
Beth: I could have done without three attempts for the finish, but I’m pleased with the overall racing Sunday.
Amy: I do think it says a lot that the winner barely raced all day, just hung out in back, which is the strategy du jour at a plate track. And that isn’t racing.
Kurt: Not just the winner Amy, the top-four finishers.

Speaking of Talladega, Felix Sabates, co-owner of the second-place car of McMurray, claims that Kevin Harvick went below the yellow line to win the race, once again raising doubt about the finish of a restrictor-plate event.  So, where is out-of-bounds and was the rule enforced correctly or not at all?

Amy: You know, I’m really not sure, because the rule isn’t clear.
Jeff: It was a non-issue.
Summer: He seemed to be the only one raising doubt. I didn’t hear a lot about it from anyone else. He didn’t pass below the yellow line. No one even had an issue with it until after Felix said something.
Kurt: It didn’t look to me like he broke the rule, but I didn’t see the slow-mo replay.
Phil: I’m fine with how it was interpreted Sunday. However, I’m definitely against the rule in general.
Kurt: Regan Smith is probably fuming! I think on the last lap it shouldn’t be enforced. The spirit of the rule doesn’t apply.
Amy: Harvick’s tires were clearly on the line when he made the pass, but didn’t go below until after. But they were definitely on the line. In most sports, on the line is out of bounds.
Jeff: When they were, Amy, he was already ahead.
Beth: Jeff’s right. Harvick already had his nose ahead of McMurray before he went below the yellow line. I don’t see why Sabates is making such a big deal over it.
Amy: I think it’s a terrible rule and if on the line is in bounds, this might be the first time they’ve called it right, ever.
Phil: Doesn’t the yellow line actually narrow up the racing surface as you near the start-finish line?
Amy: Yes, of course.
Jeff: I don’t think it does, Phil. It should be the same just all around the track.
Phil: By that, I mean that I think the yellow line moves a little to the right exiting the tri-oval.
Kurt: The rule is part of the insanity that is plate racing. Harvick won it, I don’t think there’s any real dispute.
Amy: The rule needs to be drug out and shot, but that’s another story.
Beth: Everything I’ve ever heard is below the yellow line. That to me means below the yellow line. Sounds pretty clear.
Phil: I generally believe that NASCAR believes that “on the line” is in play.
Kurt: What’s the rule in tennis or baseball?
Phil: In tennis and baseball, you’re good if you’re on the line.
Kurt: Right, so I think that would apply here.
Phil: All you have to do is nick the line.
Jeff: In football you are out.
Amy: Tennis on the line is in. Football and basketball, on the line is the same as over it.
Kurt: Wait a minute… this is stick-and-ball sports we’re comparing NASCAR to!
Phil: Why not in this case, Kurt?
Kurt: No stick-and-ball comparisons, ever!
Amy: But I don’t think I’ve ever heard NASCAR clarify… and shame on them for not doing so even after Sabates complained.
Jeff: NASCAR has never clarified anything!
Summer: I don’t think they wanted to deal with another line controversy since it didn’t make a lot of sense in the first place.
Beth: I would say if they didn’t penalize Harvick, it’s pretty clear that on the line is alright.
Amy: I heard an interesting theory from a few fans who say that Harvick was not going to be called even if he was below the line. McMurray was about to tie an Earnhardt record, and some fans feel that NASCAR made the call to keep it from happening.
Kurt: Seriously, why not just say anything goes on the last lap? You know, “have at it, boys…” that stuff.
Beth: I actually just replayed the video a few times in slow motion. Harvick had his nose inches ahead before he even touched the line. That only strengthens my agreement with NASCAR’s call.
Kurt: There you go, Beth does our job for us!
Phil: Yes, NASCAR needs to finally clarify this stupid double line. Still, I think it needs to go, though. That’s why I was opposed to paving over the grass on the backstretch. Yes, it helps keep cars on the ground, but you’re removing a natural barrier.
Jeff: That was purely for safety, Phil. Cars slow a lot faster on concrete than grass when they spin.
Amy: Yeah, the paving was totally the right way to go.
Phil: There is technology available now to put something off the racing surface that would slow cars down. Different types of pavement can be used. Even a trap could be used in a pinch.
Kurt: Amy, what is it about NASCAR that draws conspiracy theorists? Is it the Chevy domination?
Amy: I’m not saying I agree at all, but that’s something I have heard.  But considering the fact that I have yet to see a correct yellow-line call since the rule was created, I think NASCAR has no prayer of ever enforcing it correctly.
Kurt: I think they made the right call in the Regan Smith-Stewart finish, but it still made no sense. It was the last lap!
Amy: I disagree. Smith was forced to stay down there, so incorrect call.
Kurt: Let ’em race on the last lap, and by the way, it might prevent another car from going into the fence. If guys are going for it, and they’re worried about the line, they’re going to hold their ground, and Blammo!
Amy: In my opinion, if the car on top keeps the low car down there, he is forced and has no choice but to try and advance from where he is.
Kurt: Well it’s like the bump drafting in the corners rule. It sounds enforceable, but every situation will be judged differently.
Amy: Guys are so afraid of being penalized because the rule isn’t enforced as written that they don’t go down there to avoid a wreck when maybe they should.
Kurt: Was he forced or not? Did he advance his position or not? The yellow line rule is NASCAR sweating trying to make restrictor-plate racing safe.
Amy: I’ve seen guys get penalized when the car above them was literally body-slamming them to keep them there. How much more blatant can you be? It was safer before the rule, or at least not any worse. A couple of wrecks could easily have been avoided if someone would have dropped below the line.
Phil: Safer, and there was more racing room as well. On the backstretch, at least. No one really tried to pass on the apron in the tri-oval before the repave.
Kurt: Gordon got wrecked this week partly because he had to back off under the line.
Amy: Exactly, Kurt. And had Jimmie Johnson had the option of going under Clint Bowyer, he’d not have spun either.
Beth: And mostly because Jimmie came down in front of a faster car….
Kurt: That’s plate racing. Even a four-time champ can’t go mistake free for 500 miles.
Phil: Or 530.
Beth: And I’m not saying he should.
Kurt: I think they should put a safer barrier where the yellow line is and be done with it.
Beth: Fine by me. Then it wouldn’t even be an issue.
Kurt: Well, Harvick won, I’m not disputing it.
Beth: Harvick did absolutely nothing wrong, and he deserves that win. Can’t blame Felix Sabates for trying, though.
Kurt: Yeah, why not throw it out there!
Phil: The rule bites. It needs to go. However, Harvick was not in the wrong.
Amy: I agree with Beth, I think. But there’s no excuse for NASCAR not clarifying after the race.
Beth: There’s nothing to clarify. He was already past McMurray when his tires even touched the yellow line. Don’t believe me? Pause the sights and sounds video at 2:40 and full screen it. You’ll be able to see track between Harvick’s tires and the yellow line with his nose clearly ahead of Jamie.
Amy: On the replay I saw it looked like his tires were on the line at the moment his nose went ahead. On, not over.
Kurt: Get rid of the plates and the yellow line will disappear from the controversy.And tie goes to the runner.
Amy: I have no problem with Harvick being given the win – if his tires really were above the line, or if on the line is in bounds, it’s the first time NASCAR has ever called this rule right.

Harvick is in limbo right now. Sources have him leaving RCR after 2010, but his future is less certain with the possibility of Kasey Kahne landing at Stewart-Haas in 2011 in the spot long rumored to be Harvick’s. He’s also without a sponsor should he stay with RCR. What kind of outcome can he hope for in 2011, and is this early start to Silly Season a detriment to those involved?

Summer: The early Silly Season gives people more of a chance to figure things out, that’s for sure.
Beth: It’s good for those drivers that are able to ink their deal and get that distraction out of the way, but it sure stinks for those guys that don’t know what 2011 will bring even though it’s only April.
Amy: Kahne won’t be in the No. 5 til 2012. I think Harvick is backed into a corner where he’ll have to stay with RCR if he wants to stay with Chevy.
Jeff: I agree that Harvick stays. A sponsor will come.
Beth: I would imagine that Harvick has a few sponsors taking notice now.
Kurt: That won’t last unless he wins a few more, but Harvick stays at RCR.
Phil: If he stays at Childress, the Talladega win will definitely help the team score a sponsor for next year.
Amy: I do think Silly Season starts way too early these days. It can’t be good for any of the players. If you’re RPM, are you honestly giving Kahne the best stuff now? I wouldn’t. Why even announce that you’re leaving before August or September? It does you no good.
Kurt: I would Amy. These guys have pride. But I can’t imagine what else Harvick would do. Start his own team? I doubt that because we would have known by now. Silly Season is what it is and drivers like Kahne are hot commodities.
Summer: It doesn’t do them a lot of good to announce it in August or September, either.
Beth: I definitely would keep giving him race-winning stuff. There’s no reason to be a poor sport just because a driver is moving on for an option that he sees as better.
Phil: Why would RPM cannibalize their team like that? They’re likely sponsor hunting for 2011 so they need to do as well as possible.
Kurt: You want to finish strong and make him sorry he’s leaving.
Amy: I didn’t say they didn’t, but if I have to dole out the engines, Kahne’s not getting the best one on the dyno. He’s getting No. 4.
Kurt: Why? Because you couldn’t get him to re-sign? You can’t blame Kahne – RPM is going nowhere.
Amy: I’m going to give the best stuff to the guys who are sticking around and need sponsorship. So that they get better finishes to attract that money.
Kurt: I don’t buy that certain drivers get “the best stuff.” I think all of these teams work their butts off.
Amy: I wouldn’t give Kahne bad stuff at all, but I’d give the very best to the guys sticking around… loyalty and all that.
Jeff: But Amy, like Kurt said, those drivers just ain’t that good.
Beth: But back to the question, I wanted to believe there was a chance that Harvick would end up at Stewart-Haas next season. With the Kasey Kahne wild card out there, I’d imagine he’ll stay put at RCR unless something amazing pops up for him.
Kurt: I liked that idea too, Beth. I thought he’d be a good fit there. 
Except now, where does Harvick go? He’s gotta stay with RCR, I can’t see anything else opening up for him.
Beth: Harvick has made it very clear that he doesn’t want to drive for anyone but Chevy (for obvious reasons).  So he’s pretty much stuck with RCR.
Amy: I still think the best thing to do with Kahne as far as Hendrick is concerned is to farm him out to a Keyed-Up or something, give them equipment… total win-win. Stewart-Haas is better off taking a driver that will be there long term, not just one year.
Kurt: Doesn’t that make Hendrick a seven-car team? What’s the limit again? And what if Harvick does leave? Who takes over the No. 29? Justin Allgaier?
Beth: Nah, I think he’ll stick with Penske.
Amy: Does RCR even keep the No. 29?  I believe Caterpillar’s contract is up this year, and if they don’t re-up….
Kurt: Bring back Robby Gordon?
Summer: Austin Dillon perhaps?
Beth: Too early for Austin Dillon.
Phil: No clue. Childress doesn’t have anyone he could promote. He’d have to poach someone.
Kurt: Scott Wimmer is still available.
Amy: Wimmer is a decent Nationwide driver but not much more.
Phil: Wimmer would be a stop-gap measure at best.
Kurt: Wimmer has never had a shot in Cup with good stuff, Amy. Bill Davis on the decline, Morgan-McClure on their way out… Man this is confusing. I think someone might actually be driving two cars next year.
Jeff: Junior to RCR, Harvick goes to SHR and Kahne has a Hendrick car to drive.
Amy: What about Martin in 2012? Sign Harvick to a one-year extension.
Phil: I seriously doubt Earnhardt Jr.’s leaving Hendrick now.  He’s finally running decent.
Beth: Someone at TMS that I was talking to mentioned the possibility of JR Motorsports coming to Cup in 2012 with Martin driving. Just one of the many rumors I’ve heard flying around.
Phil: I thought Martin doesn’t want to do full-time beyond 2011.
Kurt: Isn’t JRM struggling, though? They’re having trouble getting sponsors when Junior and Danica Patrick aren’t driving. As for Martin, he’ll drive until Joey Logano retires. I think Harvick stays, and people will be talking about it and speculating until it happens.
Amy: I don’t think Silly Season should begin this early. There’s no benefit to anyone and possibly detrimental to some. I’d hate to be Harvick right now
Beth: Harvick’s going to be just fine, and I’m just fine with contracts being negotiated early. I could do without the formal announcements, but you know it’ll get out one way or another.
Phil: Apparently, people want deals to be done by August 1 for promotional purposes.
Kurt: Silly Season should happen when it happens, because drivers need to figure it out before it’s too late. I’m not even sure what I said just now.
Beth: I mean, it stinks that it’s April and Harvick doesn’t have a sponsor, but now he has almost 10 months until the 2011 Daytona 500 to figure out what next year will bring.
Kurt: He’ll find a sponsor soon I think. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem, especially if he wins another one. He needs to work out his differences with Richard though.
Beth: Let’s not forget that Harvick ran well to get the season started even before the win. For all we know, Mobil 1 could end up with RCR.

Brad Keselowski won the Nationwide Series race on Sunday, but he almost wasn’t allowed to get in his car after suffering the ill effects of carbon monoxide in the Cup show. McMurray was also reporting a terrible headache in his second race of the day, then became the epicenter for a violent multi-car wreck on the final lap. Is this proof two races in one day is too much for a driver to handle, or did NASCAR make the right call by letting drivers pull double duty these last few weeks?

Beth: Ask those guys that have done the Indy 500 and the Coke 600 and see what they think.
Amy: Kes came out of it OK, but you have to wonder if it slowed anyone else to the point of being dangerous – like McMurray. That was a terrible call at the end to go where he wasn’t cleared. Would he have made a better decision if he were fresher? Maybe, maybe not.
Kurt: Were they breathing in fumes bump drafting all day?
Phil: 800 miles in such close packs is really tough. The carbon monoxide will do you in. It’s a serious issue to think about for the future.
Kurt: I never even thought about it, but that could be true. I don’t want to see guys passing out in a plate race. Not good.
Jeff: Let ‘em race if they want to. Goodness gracious, you’d have a headache too!
Beth: I don’t necessarily see it as an issue at every track, but I can see it at a place like ‘Dega where they’re in tight packs all day.
Phil: Doing both in one day actually gives this a short-track feel. You know, have the big race, then one last event after it so that the entire crowd doesn’t leave at once.
Kurt: Summer’s onto something. This is how we could end the Buschwhacking practice.
Amy: True, but do you then say to those guys, “find a relief driver?”
Phil: It’s kinda hard to find a relief driver with 20 minutes notice.
Kurt: Sure, have Casey Mears on standby.
Beth: Remember, this isn’t something that NASCAR planned. Sometimes Mother Nature throws a kink into the plans. Logistically it was much easier to have it on Sunday for the drivers, teams, NASCAR, fans, the track, etc.
Kurt: Well, the Nationwide race could have been on Monday.
Amy: I liked having both races in one day. I just wonder if racing both was the best thing for the drivers.
Kurt: At least have a couple of hours gap between the two. No lights at Talladega though, that didn’t help.
Phil: No lights, man. They had to do them back-to-back to get them in.
Amy: They had 24 hours notice. The NNS race was cancelled Saturday. If double duty wasn’t allowed, they’d have had time and then some to find another driver.
Summer: Why can Daytona have lights but not Talladega? Aren’t they the same length?
Phil: Talladega is a little longer, .16 miles longer, to be exact.
Kurt: Some tracks just don’t have them, Summer. I’m cool with that. Kansas has no lights, so they just race in the dark!
Summer: Well, it’d be nice to have them if needed. They don’t always have to use them.
Kurt: The cars should have headlights.
Amy: Like Rolex cars?
Kurt: Now that would be cool.
Phil: I thought it would be a good idea, if only to alleviate rain issues. In 2000, pole qualifying for the DieHard 500 ran into the night. You basically couldn’t see jack when Dave Marcis was qualifying.
Kurt: This is something that NASCAR probably didn’t count on. They may consider that in the future. Maybe start the first race at 11:00 or something. That’d be great for the west coast.
Amy: Or at 12:15 ET, that would have been a bit better. The broadcast started at noon anyway.
Phil: It’d be like watching Formula 1.
Kurt: Yeah, why a long pre-race show? If we didn’t have to watch that Pizzi character, McMurray might have felt a little better.
Phil: As it stands, the Aaron’s 312 ended with about 50 minutes of sunlight left.
Kurt: They could have knocked 50 miles off of both races.
Jeff: And added more GWCs!
Beth: Then you’d have people screaming about cutting the race short and the “what if” scenarios.
Amy: I do think NASCAR needs to think about not letting guys race twice in one day. If reaction time is slowed just a fraction for carbon monoxide or fatigue, it wrecks a lot of cars. Too many of them in that last crash were real NNS cars, taken out by a Cup guy… again. Races at Talladega could be 50 laps long and it wouldn’t affect the outcome.
Phil: Yeah, I know. However, it was nice to see Johnny Borneman III finish fifth.
Kurt: Again, I don’t think they counted on it. It’s been done before, didn’t Kyle Busch almost win two races in one day?
Beth: That he did. I think it was Truck/Nationwide.
Phil: However, there was a break between those two races of five hours or so. And it was 500 miles total.
Kurt: Right. So NASCAR probably doesn’t think twice about it, except they’re breathing in fumes all day at plate tracks. Hey, who’s the Truck Series guy that ran the whole race while breathing in fiberglass?
Beth: Brett Butler.
Kurt: That guy should have been racing in the Nationwide race.
Phil: He breathed in some carbon monoxide, as well.
Jeff: Wasn’t Brett Butler a blond female comedian?
Phil: And a baseball player, too.
Kurt: He ran the whole race to finish something like second to last. Denny Hamlin ain’t got nothing on this dude.

OK, predictions for Richmond?

Amy: I’m going with Hamlin.
Summer: Going with Hamlin again.
Kurt: Gordon. The guy’s due.
Phil: Bowyer.
Jeff: Burton.
Kurt: Butler.
Beth: Stewart. He’s going to turn this season around very soon.

Mirror Predictions 2010

Welcome to our fourth 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 five races, here’s how our experts have fared so far:

WriterPointsBehindPredictions (Starts)WinsTop 5sTop 10s
Amy Henderson229258
Phil Allaway18-48148
Beth Lunkenheimer13-97155
Summer Dreyer5-176023
Bryan Davis Keith4-183012
Tom Bowles3-192011
Tony Lumbis0-223000
Kurt Smith0-221000
Mike Neff0-221000
Toni Montgomery0-221000
Jeff Meyer-1-234001
Matt Taliaferro-2-242000