Predictions for the New Racing Season
As I sat down to write my annual obligatory NASCAR season predictions column, I did some research about drivers and their outlook on 2011.
Of course, by research I mean I Googled “2011 NASCAR predictions” and read all the stuff that people had already written.
After about 10 minutes, it occurred to me that some people have way too much time on their hands and went through some fairly scientific processes to determine how the 2011 NASCAR season would play out.
If that is what you are looking for, you may want to stop reading, um, about three sentences ago. If you are looking for some half-coherent ramblings based on nothing but my current mood and wild speculation, then keep reading.
First Driver to Lose His Ride
This one may sound mean, but it is one of the things we bet on in my pool.
This year is going to be quite difficult because there are so many “sometimes-ran-marginally-funded” teams. Travis Kvapil, Michael McDowell, Scott Riggs, Robby Gordon, David Gilliland, Mike Skinner and a host of other drivers fall in this category and are in a position where a few torn-up race cars or a few late sponsor checks could wreck their season.
I hate to see anyone unemployed, but I am just going to hope that it’s all of them. I hate the start-and-park cars.
Rookie of the Year
Well, since there are only two candidates — Trevor Bayne in the Wood Brothers ride and Brian Keselowski in some marginally sponsored ride — planning to run for this “honor,” can we just cancel this one? It’s my column, so I am going to say yes.
It looks like we will be seeing Bayne in next year’s Budweiser Shootout.
Truck Series Champ
For no other reason than I saw his little brother beat the pants off the field in the ARCA race in Rockingham.
Nationwide Series Champ
This one will actually be pretty interesting, considering the Cup Boys won’t be running for the Championship this year. For the first time since 2005, we will have a Nationwide champ who is not a full-time Cup driver.
Looking at the list of drivers who plan on running the full schedule, I have narrowed it down to only four drivers who have a chance of winning: Elliott Sadler, racing full time in Nationwide for Kevin Harvick; Aric Almirola, driving the No. 88 for Dale Earnhardt Jr.; Bayne, driving for Roush; and Steve Wallace, driving for his daddy.
I would put Michael Annett in this group, but last time I checked, they won’t let you race with a .32 blood alcohol content.
I am going to go ahead and pick Sadler because none of the others have ever won a NASCAR race when they were in the seat at the end of the race. (Almirola was credited with a win, but he was pulled for Denny Hamlin halfway through the race.)
Sprint Cup Chasers
I looked back at my picks from last year and ended up with 10 of the 12 correct. I’m going to call it a moral victory and cuss Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne under my breath.
This year I am going with Jamie McMurray, Mark Martin, Marcos Ambrose (the new rules are going to work for him because he’s going to win the two road course races), Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards.
I actually put a good bit of thought into Kenseth over Greg Biffle and Ambrose over Juan Pablo Montoya. I think the two Roush teams could go either way, and I like Ambrose in the Richard Petty ride to beat JPM at Sears Point and Watkins Glen.
Notice that Dale Earnhardt Jr. misses the Chase for the third year in a row at Hendrick, even though I think he will pick up a win at some point during the season and tons of people will lose their minds.
Contact Andy Cagle at email@example.com.
More like this story