Friday, April 21, 2006

Phoenix: A Peek Into The Rev's Crystal Revelation Ball

Note: I wrote this before the qualifying, but have decided to keep my predictions as is.

I am doing everything I can to ward away the jinx that seems to come upon the driver I pick to be a winner. I am not reading any of the NASCAR news I usually subscribe to, or web surfing to see what anyone else has to say. My picks this week are based solely on what I see in my Crystal Revelation Ball. So I will not mention the name of the winner until I post my top ten picks at the end of this post.
My favorite driver has the best potential to win at Phoenix, more than any of the other drivers. He no doubt has the will, and his performance so far this year has been exemplary. His team has come up with some excellent cars this year, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for PIR, which happens to be one of my favorite tracks.
It is also a favorite track for Greg Biffle. He always seems to do well here, and, if his luck changes, just a little bit, he’ll be in the race for the checkers in the final laps. Team mate Matt Kenseth should have, at least, a top five finish. In fact, I see Ford doing well in the top five, and not necessarily all Roush cars. Elliott Sadler, who may very well bring Yates Racing its first Cup Championship in a while, is a very competent and competitive driver. He will give my favorite driver a run for his money at Phoenix.
Denny Hamlin will continue to raise eyebrows with his ability, and PIR is definitely his kind of track. As difficult as it is to pick only five drivers for the top five in Phoenix, I feel that Hamlin will round out that prestigious list, and make it look easy in doing so.
Formerly Not So Strong:
Okay, maybe my vision for the top five is a no brainer. PIR has often been a turn-around point for teams that have it, but do not quite get it. That being said, the remainder of my top ten list is made of drivers and teams that are on the radar, but barely.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr’s luck at PIR has been fickle. But, his attitude, and I’m not so sure if it’s really a new attitude, towards racing and winning this year will prevail, and, already in the top ten in points, the #8 team will begin its real march toward the chase at PIR this year.
Carl Edwards is due for one, and we all know how much he likes Phoenix. I’m not saying we’ll see a backflip at this race, but it could be close. Besides, how long can a slump last for a driver like Edwards? One of my top seven favorite drivers, Scott Riggs, is constantly improving. Everham has been a good fit for him, and I see his third consecutive top ten at this race. Remember, he missed the Daytona 500 in qualifying, but is now on his way to the top ten in points. His string will continue.
Robby Gordon, with his DEI powered machine, will see his hard work come to fruition as he takes a top ten finish at a track that, theoretically, should be engineered for his style of driving. He only needs to watch his temper, and to remember to lift when he is against another driver’s rear bumper, and not to pinch off another driver when he is side drafting. Though he is my dark horse pick for this race, his horse isn’t really all that dark.
I’ll cut right down to the nitty-gritty and pick Ryan “Smart-Ass” Newman to fill out the top ten. I had a feeling that he might even win this one, but the feeling for my favorite driver came out stronger. He has everything it takes to do very well at Phoenix, but he may get caught up in a situation “not of his making,” which always seems to happen to smart-asses.
Almost There:
The view in The Rev’s Crystal Revelation Ball is always somewhat fuzzy, and I don’t claim that my top ten picks are perfect, or even close. Here are some other drivers who may make the top ten, in my unfocused view:

It isn’t that Jeff Gordon isn’t trying. I still think of him as one of NASCAR’s all time great drivers, and his record vouches for that. Will he get it together for this race? Either Good Jeffy or Bad Jeffy can do well at Phoenix. If he finishes in the top ten, it could be in the lead. I hope not, I still don’t like the guy.
Kurt “Boo Bait” Busch is another driver who could do well at Phoenix. However, he is also another driver who could get into a situation not of his doing. I don’t think he has made many friends among the other drivers this season. His brother, the Shrub, could be a winner, but he is just as likely to wreck himself at PIR as he is to wreck someone else.
I really would like to see Kevin Harvick do well here, but it doesn’t seem to be his turn, yet. He could win it, but the #29 team seems to be missing something that just barely separates them from excellence.

Without any further adieu, here are my top ten picks for Phoenix:
1. #20 Tony Stewart to win.
2. #16 Greg Biffle
3. #17 Matt Kenseth
4. #38 Elliott Sadler
5. #11 Denny Hamlin
6. #12 Ryan Newman
7. #10 Scott Riggs
8. #8 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
9. #99 Carl Edwards
10. #7 Robby Gordon

Good luck to all the fans and their drivers, and may the racing continue to be as entertaining as it has been so far this year.

A final, personal note: Get well, soon, Antionette, our prayers are with you.

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