Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Rev's Crystal Revelation Ball

For the first time, during the regular NASCAR season, it is time for the Rev’s Crystal Revelation Ball. These are predictions based largely on gut feeling, rather than actual stats and probability, and by no means be used as tips for fantasy league picks.
Texas Motor Speedway is a track similar to the one in Atlanta, a roughly 1.5 mile, banked oval speedway. It is easy to predict that the multiple groove track will offer an abundance of thrills and wheel to wheel racing. Weather will be a factor--the strong wind, if it continues Sunday as it has, will be an unknown variable in the running and outcome of the race--it will definitely and randomly affect the handling of every car on the track. Expect at least 9 cautions for contact, and a few more for debris.

The Strong:

Although no driver has won a race from the pole position at TMS, Kasey Kahne has the potential and skill to pull out a strong finish. The “cute little guy” has proven to be one of the more difficult drivers to spin, is consistently good at the so-called “cookie cutter” tracks, and if he has no mechanical or contact problems, should finish in at least the top 5. I repeat, only if the car has no mechanical problems. From the looks of final practice, the #9 team has a few bugs to work out.
Tony Stewart starts from far back in the field. He had some problems in qualifying set-up. That hasn’t seemed to be a problem for him. The IROC race Friday night featured some great three-wide racing. Although the Cup cars are much more powerful than the IROC cars, and have different handling characteristics, Sunday’s racing should see some more of the same, which happens to be the kind of racing Tony likes. Watch for Smoke to lead some laps, and have a very strong finish.
All of the JGR cars have looked good this year, and also in final practice. This is a strong point for Joe Gibbs Racing this year--consistency. The #11 of Denny Hamlin should have a very good day. Hamlin seems to have a knack for the intermediate tracks, and will continue an outstanding rookie season at Texas. His Gibbs team mate, and ROTY rival, JJ Yeley, has been improving his racing skills, and results, in giant steps. He now knows what a good Cup car should feel like, and the #18 is a good Cup car. The only thing that could keep these two out of a top ten finish Sunday would be inexperience.
Mark Martin. Multiple-groove track. Need I say more?
Martin’s team mate, Matt Kenseth is another driver who has shown great strength at TMS. He definitely looks strong for Sunday’s race. He is another driver who loves the kind of racing TMS offers, and he is exceptionally skilled at such racing. He should be able to lead some laps, and the Crystal Revelation Ball shows him as a probable contender for the win.
Kyle “The Shrub” Busch is cocky and confident. He has reason to be--he is a naturally talented and highly skilled driver. No, you don’t have to like him, he seems proud to wear the “Bad Boy” badge, but, if he keeps his nose clean, and doesn’t get too many drivers p-o’ed at him, he has a strong chance of finishing in the top ten, ahead of HMS team mate Jimmie Johnson. Johnson is very consistent on tracks such as TMS, but has a tendency to be overly aggressive in his blocking. A multiple groove track will be a perfect opportunity for him to practice that tendency. It is difficult to imagine Johnson not in the top five at the end of Sunday’s race, but any kind of mistake on his part will cost him dearly at the finish.
The car to watch, Sunday, will definitely be the #38 car of Elliott “Candyman” Sadler. The #38 team decided that they didn’t really need the entire 45 minutes of final practice to see that they had the best car on the track. The Candyman has been very good at strong finishes at every track this season, and he definitely can be considered as one of the top drivers in NASCAR. Sadler feels the power, and it is his turn. He could spend most of the race leading the field by a large margin.

The Not-So-Strong:
Jeff Gordon should be a contender. He will win another race soon, it just won’t be this one. The #24 team still seems unable to find the formula needed for success at an intermediate track. Greg Biffle has had some bad luck this season. Very bad luck. However, he had a very good finish at Bristol, seventh, after being two laps down. It isn’t that he lacks in skill. He will make the race exciting, but, if he doesn’t win the race, he will not be in the top ten at the finish.

Dark Horses?
I am running out of time, so I’ll just throw out some names that will be interesting to watch Sunday. Could one of these guys actually win at TMS? We would certainly like to see it, they they would certainly want to. Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte, or Kyle Petty could all be very surprising Sunday.

The Winner:
I really want to see Tony Stewart win again. That’s what I want. However, the Rev’s Crystal Revolation Ball clearly shows that the one to take the checkered flag Sadler. It should be a very exciting finish.

Top Ten Predictions:
1. #38 Elliott Sadler
2. #20 Tony Stewart
3. #17 Matt Kenseth
4. #6 Mark Martin
5. #9 Kasey Kahne
6. #11 Denny Hamlin
7. #5 Kyle Busch
8. #43 Bobby Labonte
9. #29 Kevin Harvick
10. #18 JJ Yeley

Lord, this will be a fun race!


Clance' McClannahan said...

You will be surprised at how close your predictions are to my 'scope's. The only thng I disagree according to my charts is Elliot. His scope just ain't to good... then again I don't have their exact moment of birth and they are all based on a general birthtime of 12 noon. That makes it as close as it can get. HOWEVER...that exact moment of birth can be a big deal on some days.
It will be fun to compare your gut with my scopes'...It could be fun to keep track of the percentiles and then compare them at the end of the year.
Great post on the Speedway.

RevJim said...

That will be cool. I didn't even look at the scopes before I posted this, but I noticed that when I did go to your blog. Looks like I jinxed Elliott, though