NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Carl’s Contract, All-Star Racers And A Solution to Nationwide Interlopers?

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*:
Phil Allaway “(Tuesdays / Talking NASCAR TV & Frontstretch Newsletter)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/18439/
Summer Dreyer (Tuesdays / Who’s Hot & Who’s Not in NASCAR)
Mike Neff “(Wednesdays / Top 15 & Wednesdays / Full Throttle)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/1744/
Jeff Meyer “(Wednesdays / Top Ten & Thursdays / Voices From The Heartland)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/356/
Amy Henderson “(Fridays / Holding A Pretty Wheel)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/351/

*With Greg Biffle signed to a contract extension, the biggest free agent question mark is Carl Edwards. Is Edwards better off re-signing with Roush-Fenway or shopping his wares elsewhere; and if so, where?*

Phil: I’d say he should stay in the No. 99. He’d only hurt himself by leaving. Plus, it’s not like he’s struggling right now.

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Despite leading the points and scoring a Cup Series win this season, at Las Vegas in March speculation remains that Carl Edwards might test the free agent market and leave Roush Fenway Racing after the season.

Amy: I think RFR is probably the best fit for Edwards in terms of both equipment and personality. I don’t see Edwards fitting the Hendrick mold, but they don’t have an open seat anyway. Gibbs could be a player, but I’m not sure how the chemistry would be. Ditto Stewart-Haas.
Mike N.: Carl’s not going anywhere but, if he wants to get a couple more bucks out of Jack Roush and John Henry he should shop his talents, or maybe take them to South Beach.
Jeff: He’ll re-sign with Roush. End of question.
Summer: Re-sign with Roush… there aren’t any great rides out there, anyway, and Ford Racing is on too good of a roll right now for him to head out the door.
Amy: If he brings a sponsor, there could be a few players.
Mike N.: Where else is he going to go? Unless Stewart-Haas can find a third primary sponsor.
Amy: I bet SHR or Gibbs would find a spot for him.
Mike N.: However, I don’t blame him for shopping his wares just to drive up the price a little bit for Roush to keep him. Free agency at its finest.
Amy: Nope, that’s free enterprise. But I do think that Gibbs would be an intriguing option to explore.
Summer: What does someone like SHR have to offer right now that RFR doesn’t?
Mike N.: Hendrick equipment.
Amy: My thoughts exactly, Mike.
Summer: Yeah, but it’s not exactly like Newman or Stewart are lighting the world on fire right now. Edwards has been running up front.
Mike N.: Stewart could have three wins this year if things had gone the right way.
Jeff: Again, there hasn’t even been ONE DAMN WHIFF of Carl even wanting to shop around, so this is a non-issue. Media making something up.

Amy: There hasn’t been a whiff of his signing a contract extension, either. That said, I do think he’ll stay with Roush.
Phil: He’ll stay in the No. 99, but they won’t sign him until June or so.
Amy: I’m not sure he’d fit with a lot of teams, personality-wise, and he seems to get along OK at RFR. He’s less under the microscope at RFR in a couple of ways as well. It’s a good fit all around.
Phil: Edwards isn’t going anywhere. He’s probably just twiddling his thumbs as I type this.
Summer: Edwards will re-sign…. I have no doubt about it.
Jeff: I guarantee Edwards will stay with RFR. If not, I will quit FS.
Amy: Agreed. He’ll stay. Can’t see there being room for him anywhere else but Gibbs and really don’t see him and Tony Stewart getting along.

*With three races left before the All-Star race, several big names will have to race their way in unless they can pull off a win at Richmond, Darlington, or Dover. Can anyone pull it off and get in on an eleventh-hour win?*

Summer: Can I get an Earnhardt up in here? I really thought he had it at Talladega.
Mike N.: Sure, most anyone can pull it off who drives in the series, but I doubt Joe Nemechek or Dave Blaney will.
Amy: Junior has a shot. He’s won at both Richmond and Dover.

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Could all the changes Rick Hendrick made over the offseason finally be paying off for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.?

Mike N.: I think Junior is going to shock the world and win at Darlington where no one thinks he will. Kyle Busch is going to win at Richmond.
Summer: Wait, Mike! Predictions are later!
Phil: Earnhardt, Jr.’s best chance would be this Saturday. Maybe Menard or Allmendinger could sneak in, too.
Amy: And explain to me how guys who aren’t even running this year can be on the fan ballot?
Summer: If you ran a points race last year, you are eligible for the Showdown this year.
Mike N.: Because America is a democracy and anyone can win a vote.
Phil: You’re eligible for the Showdown if you finish in the Top 50 in points, or something like that.
Summer: Here are the eligibility rules straight from NASCAR: To be eligible for the Sprint All-Star Fan Vote, drivers must be approved by NASCAR for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition and have met all other eligibility requirements. Those requirements include finishing in the Top 50 of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship point standings; competing in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Event during the 2010 season; or attempting to qualify for the 2011 Daytona 500.
Amy: OK, well that settles that. As for “win and you’re in” … he’d really have to find some magic, but Jeff Burton is another possibility. Brad Keselowski isn’t running well enough, I don’t think.
Mike N.: I would have said Burton had a shot but he hasn’t looked remotely competitive this year.
Phil: I think either Brad Keselowski or Joey Logano will win the Fan Vote. Earnhardt, Jr. will probably just transfer regularly out of the Sprint Showdown.

Amy: Anyhow, if anyone is going to race in, it’s probably going to be Junior. I can see BK and Burton racing in through the Open or whatever it’s called now.
Summer: I think Earnhardt has the best shot of all drivers eligible. I looked at the list and don’t see anyone else that has been running as well or that has a better chance.
Amy: Junior gets the fan vote if he doesn’t race in, though.
Summer: They just need to put him in by default. I’m more interested to know who is the runner-up in the fan vote.
Amy: If he does, I think Burton will get it… if NASCAR doesn’t screw with the numbers.
Phil: There’s always those wrecks in the Showdown. That could affect who gets that Fan Vote.
Jeff: Hey, if you don’t race in and you don’t qualify… um… maybe you just aren’t an “All-Star” this year!!! Just ’cause you got a big name doesn’t make you worthy.
Amy: For this race, I disagree. Fans should have a say. Hell, they vote the entire starting lineup in Baseball. Which is, incidentally the sport that they should have chosen to emulate, but I digress.
Mike N.: I think earning your way into a race is better than winning a popularity contest.
Phil: Earnhardt, Jr. has a decent shot this weekend at Richmond. He’s contended there before, even since he’s been at Hendrick. However, you probably remember how that ended.
Mike N.: Of the drivers not already in, Earnhardt, Jr. has the best chance and Richmond is a good track for him.

*Johnny Sauter’s CWTS win at Martinsville is the only win by a series regular in either the Truck or Nationwide Series. Who’s most likely to be the next?*

Summer: I’m going with his teammate, Matt Crafton. ThorSport is on it this year.
Jeff: The Onion.
Phil: I think Peters has a good chance.
Amy: It will definitely be a truck driver. I’ll go with either Timothy Peters or Austin Dillon; Bodine or Ron Hornaday will be up there as well.
Phil: Germain Racing is off this year. I think they’ve bitten off more than they can chew with four teams.
Amy: Agreed… Germain should focus on two in CWTS and the No. 13 Cup effort.

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Take a long, hard look at this picture of a Nationwide or Truck Series regular winning a race (Johnny Sauter, Martinsville in early April). You’re not going to see another one like that anytime soon.

Mike N.: Austin Dillon could certainly pull one off whenever they run again in a month or so. Then again, by that time Richard Petty may have decided to reenter racing as a Truck regular.
Phil: Ouch.
Mike N.: Who runs a series where they have four races in three months? Sorry, I digress.
Phil: I don’t know. I’ve never liked that stupidity. It was dumb five years ago and it’s really stupid now. No momentum.
Summer: It’s hard for people to get into it when it’s never on.
Mike N.: Crafton has a shot. Dillon could pull one off. Hornaday is always a threat. On the Nationwide side, anyone in a Turner car could make a run.
Jeff: I still say Onionhead; Todd Bodine.
Amy: On the Nationwide side, I don’t see more than one race won by a regular, and that’s if we’re lucky.
Phil: In the Nationwide Series, there are really only a few regulars that could threaten. Those are Stenhouse, Bayne, Elliott Sadler, Sorenson and Allgaier.
Jeff: I’d go with Sadler or Bayne.
Mike N.: I can’t imagine that since the Cup guys come in and ruin the show all of the time, the big meanies.
Summer: How is that “a few?” That’s quite a bit of Nationwide Series regulars. I think Stenhouse and Sadler are good picks… Allgaier hasn’t been as strong as I thought he’d be, though. It’s not like if the Cup Series drivers disappeared that every driver would still have the same shot at winning. Those guys Phil listed would still be the favorites.
Phil: If they all disappeared, you’d have those five guys, plus about five more that could contend on a good day. On a whim, I’d guess those guys to be Steve Wallace, Kenny Wallace, Annett, Bires (during his time in the #18), and maybe someone like Mike Wallace on a really good day.
Amy: Look at the numbers. In the last 100 NNS races, series regulars have won nine times. Seven of those were by current Cup drivers still racing full-time in the series.
Phil: It’s not good. Pretty brutal. As for those seven, they were Nationwide-only drivers at the time, right?
Amy: Yes. That’s ugly. Say what you want about Mark Martin; in the years when he was winning lots of NNS races, the regulars were still winning roughly half the events. Last year, it was ONE race.
Summer: Going back to the Truck Series, Cole Whitt might be a dark horse pick for a series regular to win. He’s been pretty consistent this year as well.
Amy: Whitt could grab a win, I agree. So could Piquet. He was impressive on Friday.
Summer: Piquet hasn’t really done that great through the whole season though, which was a surprise to me. I thought he’d be pretty good in KHI equipment.
Amy: No, but he’s learning stock cars completely, so he might not be as consistent as a more experienced driver.
Phil: Piquet had to get in on speed Friday. If I talked to him today, he’d probably be ticked with his season, but happy with Friday’s run. Then again, he’s been a little crash prone so far this year.
Summer: I would imagine so with the success he’s had in open-wheel.

Amy: Look at Montoya his first year out of F1; he had some really strong runs and some really crappy ones. And he gets better every year.
Phil: However, Montoya considers almost everything he does in NASCAR right now to be a learning experience. Just take his Nationwide debut at Watkins Glen last year as an example.
Mike N.: Winning in full-fendered cars isn’t very easy to do, as we’ve seen from most of the open-wheel guys who’ve come over.
Phil: Piquet’s going about it the right way, though.
Summer: I’m sticking with ThorSport to be strong this year. Both drivers are very strong every weekend and either one of them has had the points lead after every race except Daytona.
Mike N.: The Turner cars are good enough to win and the drivers have the potential.
Amy: I agree with that, ThorSport is looking pretty good. I don’t see a great opportunity for an NNS regular; normally, the best shot would be Road America while Cup is in Sonoma, but that’s more likely to go to a road course specialist the way Boris Said won Montreal last year.
Phil: Said will be entered there again, by the way with RAB Racing as a teammate to Kenny Wallace. Herman referenced that during a press conference at Daytona during the Rolex 24.

*With NASCAR’s efforts to curb Cup drivers’ participation in the Nationwide Series largely failed, would Sunday races at noon at East Coast venues be a viable option when the Cup Series is on the West Coast?*

Amy: Yes, and they would also help provide a solution to the CWTS schedule, as it would allow that series to run on Saturday as a Cup companion. Huge win-win situation.
Phil: They’ve done it before. 1998. Watkins Glen for Busch the same day (June 28) as Sears Point for Winston Cup. At the time, the Trucks were support to the Busch race in Watkins Glen.
Jeff: Win win for who, Amy? If it was such a moneymaker, BF would have done it already.
Mike N.: If they run on Sunday, what will we watch on Saturday?
Summer: I’ve thought for awhile the best way to get Cup drivers out of the Nationwide Series is to run them at separate venues as often as possible, but I don’t think track promoters would be very happy about that.

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Even banning Cup drivers like Brad Keselowski from competing for the Nationwide championship has done nothing to stop their dominance of the series as a whole.

Amy: If you ran 200 laps at Martinsville going green at noon, it would be over in time for the green flag in Fontana at 3:30.
Mike N.: What NASCAR fans are going to go to the track to watch the Nationwide race and then miss the Cup race because they’re in traffic?
Amy: That’s why MRN exists. How many fans would travel that far for either race? Meaning both would draw their usual numbers. I think it would be a very viable option and good for both the NNS and CWTS.
Summer: I think it was in 2007 in Daytona when the Friday night race got rained out and they ran the race early Saturday morning before the Cup race that night. Maybe something like that?
Phil: That was the same principle behind the Watkins Glen-Infineon duo mentioned above. Only, it was 12:30 and 4:00.
Amy: Another option would be for the NNS track to show the Cup race afterward on the Jumbotron.
Phil: That’s an option. They use strategies like that to get people to go to international friendlies at the Red Bull Arena.
Amy: I would think it could be done with the two Phoenix events, Fontana, Vegas, and at least one at Texas. Five, six max. Showing the Cup race allows fans to avoid traffic and the tracks to keep selling concessions.
Summer: Then they need to make it where it would probably be impossible to do.
Mike N.: How many drivers do the double when the races are that far apart? Four? We’re really wasting all of this breath over four guys in six races a year?
Jeff: Amen, Mike!!!!
Amy: The added bonus is, the CWTS could run in conjunction with Cup on Saturday when it’s too cold to run Friday night and then the giant holes in the schedule could be addressed.
Summer: We’re talking about running them on the same day, right? Then have the Nationwide race end right around the time the Cup race might start.
Amy: Exactly, Summer.
Phil: Remember when Martinsville got rained out in 2001, and NBC simply cut to the Busch race in Memphis that was going to be tape-delayed?
Summer: I’m kind of thinking about Mike’s comment… it really doesn’t bother me. If drivers want to make the effort to race, then have at it. But if fans really want to get rid of Cup drivers completely, NASCAR will have to force the issue.
Mike N.: The Truck series needs to run more races, not come up with some convoluted East Coast / West Coast thing.
Phil: They need the beginning and end of their season to no longer be tied in with Sprint Cup and the Nationwide Series.
Mike N.: If they really want to get rid of Cup guys, then outlaw them. The problem there is promoters and sponsors are not going to go for that.
Amy: Why not? It would make the NNS champion totally legit, and give an opportunity for them to race at some cool places like Martinsville or even Rockingham. They could swap and run a night race at Phoenix or Fontana when the Cup guys are at Loudon or Pocono. You could also do a Sunday race with Cup at Kansas in the Chase as those start times are being moved to accommodate football, anyway.
Mike N.: Or, run 32 races and pay some actual purses instead of local short track numbers.
Phil: Does the Nationwide Series really need to race out West at all? What is the point of these smaller series making the hauls out there?
Jeff: We might as well discuss how to bring gas prices down, and what the oil companies should do about it.
Amy: It wouldn’t be any extra trips, guys. But I do agree that they need to sell tickets, and perhaps the way to do that is to go back to the short tracks.
Summer: What helps the short tracks is that there aren’t as many seats to fill in the first place.
Amy: Skip the West Coast trips and go to Martinsville, South Boston, Milwaukee.
Mike N.: My point is they are scrambling to make the fields full out West now when they have four Cup guys in the field. If you take four cars away, and the promoter can’t pay as big of a purse because his seats aren’t as full, you’re hurting the product.
Amy: I disagree. If they had a shot to win, you’d have more part-time entries like you used to.
Mike N.: Who is going to pay for the SAFER barriers at South Boston or Rockingham? What part-time driver, even if the Cup guys aren’t there, has a shot to win in today’s Nationwide Series?
Phil: I have no clue. South Boston would be really narrow with the SAFER Barriers added in.
Amy: Maybe not win… but at least to make enough purse money to break even on the race.
Mike N.: Not to mention it would cost the track owner a bunch of money to fix them every week after the local shows ran.
Amy: That’s all a lot of the small teams ever hoped for — to break even so they could race. So fine, run at tracks where they have them… Martinsville does, and Loudon.
Mike N.: Who can break even with the crap purses they pay in the Nationwide Series these days? Let alone when they cut the purse because the seats aren’t as full since the Cup guys aren’t there.
Amy: That’s a BS excuse, Mike. I know as many, if not more people who don’t go to NNS races because the Cup guys ARE there than who wouldn’t go if they weren’t.
Mike N.: You may, but I promise there are as many or more who won’t go when Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is the top name in the field.
Amy: We were in the car on the way to Asheville early Saturday and considered making the drive to Nashville as fans, not reporters; we could have gotten there in plenty of time for the NNS race. The reason we didn’t was because we already knew how it would turn out… and we were dead on right.
Summer: But there are also those that go to a Nationwide race instead of a Cup race because they know they can get the same star power for a smaller price.
Mike N.: Because you’re not race fans, you’re race driver fans.
Amy: Not really, Mike. We’re Nationwide Series fans.
Mike N.: So you don’t care about the racing, you care about the series.
Amy: That series used to be a blast, and standalone races sold plenty of tickets.
Mike N.: So did the Cup Series.
Amy: The racing in the series used to be top notch, Mike — now it isn’t. Now it’s boring and predictable.
Phil: Yep. You guys might have seen my Hickory piece last week. That race sold out with tickets going for $30. That was 1992.
Mike N.: Their series used to run at Hickory, South Boston, Orange County, Rockingham and North Wilkesboro, too.
Phil: They only ran North Wilkesboro for something like 2 or 3 years.
Amy: Now, they run at tracks where money wins every week… all tied into the Cup driver problem.
Phil: Hickory got the boot from the schedule due to a combination of a failure to meet a new minimum purse and an inability to fit 43 cars there.
Amy: Yet another reason to cut fields in NNS to 36 at the short tracks.
Mike N.: Yeah Phil, but that was mostly when they were trying to get rid of the small tracks in general.
Summer: Thinking we got way off topic on this one… again.
Mike N.: We all know that the Nationwide Series would be far better if it returned to the short tracks, just like the Truck Series, but it isn’t going to happen anytime soon, so we’re stuck with it.
Amy: Running Sunday morning at a track several thousand miles away from the Cup Series would be great for the NNS… as well as the Trucks. Win-win.
Phil: Well, the Nationwide Series does need to get away from doing 27 support races to Cup per season. Maybe not necessarily the split coast experiment, but some other creation should be used.
Mike N.: Running the Nationwide Series at other tracks than Cup on the same weekends would be a great thing, but it isn’t going to happen anytime soon because that isn’t what the sanctioning body wants.
Jeff: Wouldn’t even be a great thing.
Amy: Because the sanctioning body doesn’t care about fans, only corporate sponsors.
Summer: Nor is it what the tracks want.
Amy: How do you know, Summer?
Jeff: I sure as heck ain’t giving up my ENTIRE Sunday watching two races.
Mike N.: Corporate sponsors pay the bills, Amy.
Summer: Because it’s a lot easier to promote names like Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards than Ricky Stenhouse and Justin Allgaier.
Amy: Only because people are lazy, Summer. When I first started watching racing, my favorite Cup driver became that because he was my favorite NNS driver first.
Summer: Not necessarily. Some casual fans just don’t put as much effort into it. Nothing wrong with that, it just means it’s not what their world revolves around.
Amy: That’s laziness by definition, Summer…not putting the effort in.
Jeff: News flash! I like racing but my world does not revolve around it. Never has.
Mike N.: The tracks make a lot more money when the Cup guys show up.
Summer: And I was about to say the same thing, Mike. Corporate sponsors are important too.
Mike N.: Amy, go to the souvenir haulers on a race weekend and see how many people line up to get autographs from the Cup guys vs. the Nationwide guys. It is what puts money in the promoters’ pockets.
Amy: And NASCAR needs to stop catering to the casual fan and start catering to the diehards before they’re gone.
Summer: Why should they if it’s not THAT important to them? It’s OK to be a diehard. If they just watch every week and don’t really pay a ton of attention and just watch because they enjoy it, then they won’t really know those names all that well.
Phil: They do need to market more to the mainstays. Admittedly, most fans don’t just start following the lower series. They start with Cup and work their way down. Then, they hope to follow a dude to Cup.
Amy: If the Cup guys weren’t there to sign, do you think the fans would just say “no thanks” to the NNS guys? I don’t.
Summer: At Iowa last year for the truck race, there was a line wrapped around the grandstands to see the drivers and there were no Cup guys there.
Amy: It’s the real fans, not the casuals, who buy a product because that product is on a racecar.
Jeff: I disagree, Amy.
Phil: In my case, there were plenty of companies I would have otherwise never heard of if they weren’t in NASCAR. Like Bojangles.
Jeff: It’s the weak minded that buy stuff just because it is this or that of NASCAR or on a race car. I buy what I like and what is good.
Summer: No, it’s the loyal that do that. They’re loyal to their favorite driver, NASCAR, etc. and they want to support them. Completely understandable.
Amy: Not necessarily. Or at least that didn’t used to be the case. I bought Tide because it was on a car, not because of who drove it. If they supported the sport, I supported them. I don’t see casual fans doing that.
Mike N.: If it comes down to two choices, I’ll buy the one that is the NASCAR sponsor. If I need gas and the price is the same, I’ll pull into the Sunoco instead of the BP. If other things are equal, I’ll support the racing sponsor.
Summer: I do too, but some want to support their favorites… just the way it is. There’s nothing wrong with that either.
Jeff: I buy Subway not because Carl drives their car, but because I liked the BMT long before they ever stepped foot in NASCAR.
Summer: I’d pull into whatever was on my side of the road.
Jeff: I would NOT go to Sunoco just because they ARE the fuel of NASCAR. BP all the way.
Amy: That loyalty has eroded recently… probably due to the influx of casual fans. Which has led to fewer sponsors… see the connection?
Mike N.: I refuse to go to BP for multiple reasons, personal and otherwise. Right now their handling of the Gulf crisis is not winning them any friends.
Summer: I haven’t seen that. I still know quite a few people who will support/boycott a product because they love/hate the driver they sponsor.
Phil: We don’t have BP here. Pulled out after the merger with Amoco.
Amy: I go to Sunoco when I can because, of the big companies, they use the least Middle Eastern Oil.

Jeff: I buy a company product because I like the product. Not because they are in NASCAR.
Summer: I usually buy something based first on price and then on quality. But fans with favorite drivers will support their driver’s sponsors. It doesn’t matter to me, but it does to a lot of people.
Jeff: I refuse to be sheep.
Phil: I’m the same boat as Jeff. Being in NASCAR has historically only helped my consciousness of a product. But, I do support sponsors every now and then. Like Sun Drop.
Amy: It used to not stop at their driver, Summer… people bought stuff because they were a NASCAR sponsor, period. If it came down to two similar products (i.e. Lowe’s and Home Depot) then the driver loyalty came into play.
Summer: I still know a lot of fans who do that.
Amy: If a product is of similar price and quality, I’ll still go with the NASCAR sponsor.
Summer: I’ll probably go with the NASCAR sponsor just because it’s what’s familiar to me.
Phil: I guess I support a NASCAR sponsor when I go to Valvoline Instant Oil Change for Inspection.
Summer: And Jeff, in response to the “sheep” comment, that’s why NASCAR is said to be such a good decision for companies. BECA– USE NASCAR fans will intentionally seek out sponsors of NASCAR, a driver, etc.
Jeff: Exactly! That’s where the sheep are herded.
Summer: Most of the time when I’m supporting a NASCAR sponsor, it’s not intentional or a conscious thought. It’s either what’s familiar to me, what’s closest to me, or what’s cheapest. I don’t think that it should be viewed as a negative thing, though, Jeff. That’s what keeps the corporate sponsors coming, which is what keeps the money flowing, which is what keeps the sport around.
Phil: A few years ago, it was difficult not to pick a NASCAR sponsor. Almost everyone of note was in the sport in some form.
Mike N.: Very true, Phil.

*How about some predictions for Richmond?*

Amy: I think I’ll go with Clint Bowyer. He’s got an average finish of better than tenth and is hungry to boot.
Summer: Hamlin.
Mike N.: Kyle Busch, as I stated much earlier in this column. He’s also going to win the Short Track Showdown on Thursday, which will be covered in the “Short Track section of Frontstretch.com.”:http://https://frontstretch.com/shorttracks/
Phil: All three of those are previous winners at Richmond. I’m going on a limb and saying David Ragan. He’s done well there in the past. Could have won in September 2008, only to get pwned late.
Jeff: Jeff Gordon.
Summer: Wow, Phil… That’s quite a thin limb.
Phil: With random picks like this, I like to take chances.
Amy: The most wins at RIR among active drivers might surprise some people. It’s Junior, tied with Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson.
Mike N.: Maybe Junior can dump Kyle to take the win this time.
Summer: I’d laugh. Based on the way Junior raced at Martinsville, though, you probably won’t see it happen.
Mike N.: It would be surprising.
Amy: If he did that they could hand him the Most Popular Driver trophy for the next five years now…not that they can’t anyway.

*Email the Mirror Guys ‘N’ Gals!*
“Contact Amy Henderson”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14352/
“Contact Jeff Meyer”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14350/
“Contact Mike Neff”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14354/
“Contact Phil Allaway”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/18440/
“Contact Summer Dreyer”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/28526/


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Wednesday on the Frontstretch:
“Did You Notice? … Who’s The Short Track King?, Quick Hits, And Sliced Dreams”:https://frontstretch.com/tbowles/33787/
“Up In Smoke: Yunick’s Hall of Fame Legacy Burns in Daytona Beach”:https://frontstretch.com/vpugliese/33783/
“Denny Hamlin’s Curse and Why Richmond Should Help”:https://frontstretch.com/sdreyer/33780/
“Top 15 NASCAR Power Rankings: Up-And-Coming Drivers”:https://frontstretch.com/mneff/33788/
“Top 10 Excuses For Spinning Someone Out On A Short Track”:https://frontstretch.com/article/33785/
“FREE NEWSLETTER! CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP”:/notice/9557/

PARTNER LINK OF THE DAY – ATHLON SPORTS:
“The Right Way”:http://www.athlonsports.com/columns/garage-talk/right-way

*Mirror Predictions 2011*

Welcome to our fifth 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 seven races, here’s how our experts have fared so far:

Writer Points Behind Predictions (Starts) Wins Top 5s Top 10s
Phil Allaway 10 7 0 *3* *5*
Jeff Meyer 9 -1 7 *1* *3* 4
Amy Henderson 7 -3 7 *1* 2 3
Mike Neff 3 -7 6 0 1 2
Tom Bowles 1 -9 1 0 0 1
Summer Dreyer -3 -13 5 0 0 0
Beth Lunkenheimer -4 -14 3 0 0 0

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