Before I get to my predictions, it appears as if the top 35 is finally set after a week of uncertainty, wheeling, and dealing. Teams are trying to gain that coveted spot into the Daytona 500 and four subsequent races.
Here are the car numbers, in order of 2008 owner points finish. The season's first practice isn't until Saturday, and qualifying Sunday, so I wouldn't be surprised to see more changes:
- 98 (using the 28's 2008 points)
- 00 (number change from 44)
- 34 (using the 15's points from 2008)
- 96 (using the 38's points from 2008)
- 39 (number change from 66)
- 77 (using the 22's points from 2008)
- 33 (using the 01's points from 2008)
- 82 (number change from 84)
- 47 (number change from 00)
So in the latest developments, Richard Childress Racing has secured the points from one of Dale Earnhardt Incorporated's disbanded teams to ensure that Clint Bowyer doesn't miss the Daytona 500.
Also, Bill Davis "bought into" Penske Racing, with the 77 team acquiring the 22's points from a year ago.
Brad Keselowski was supposed to get either the 01 or 15's points on owner James Finch's entry at Daytona, but this will not happen. It would technically count as a fifth car for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing (John Andretti and Front Row Motorsports' No. 34 being the fourth in addition to the Nos. 1, 8, and 42). NASCAR said points transfers to allow rookies in fifth cars guaranteed spots was "against the spirit of the rule."
Here's what I have against the spirit of the rule: the rule itself.
NASCAR says no swapping points, so some owners (cough Roger Penske) get the idea to "sell" a portion of their team to an owner/former owner who has points and won't be running that car.
NASCAR should make all points swaps illegal, including ones where a change of ownership has apparently occurred. Or NASCAR could just lock in only the top 20 or 25 teams, seeing how those teams are pretty much on solid footing and likely aren't going to go the way of the dinosaur in the near future.
Notice how all of this year's transfers occurred amongst teams outside the top 20 in 2008?
And oh by the way, on the champ's provisional front, Tony Stewart is first in line, followed by Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott. Notable names who will have to race their way into the 500 include Kvapil, Allmendinger, Smith, and Mike Wallace.
On to a new preseason feature at this blog: 10 really off-the-wall predictions. Chances that any of them actually happen? Well let's just say I have a better chance of dating a supermodel, or anybody for that matter.
1. Darrell Waltrip drops "Boogity, Boogity, Boogity" for "Andale, andale, andale."
Seeing how when I go out in public anymore I can't tell if I am in Mexico or the United States with as little English as I hear, it makes perfect sense to adopt Spanish as the second language of NASCAR on FOX.
2. Rusty Wallace pronounces everyone's name correctly.
There will be no more Aric Amarillo or David Gilligan in 2009.
3. No drivers fail a drug test, even ones with names rhyming with Lenny Tamlin.
As Ryan Newman alluded to, it's pretty easy to pass a drug test when NASCAR tells you when testing is going to occur. It's good to see someone in the sport has some common sense. Ryan Newman for NASCAR president!
4. Jimmie Johnson bucks the trend and gets a stupid injury DURING the season.
The past few offseasons have seen the three-time defending champion fall off the top of a golf cart at Mike Hamtpon's charity golf tourney and cut his finger with a knife while trying to cut a hole in his fire suit.
For an encore, I predict Johnson will break his arm while trying to emulate a Carl Edwards back flip after a win in 2009.
5. Bruton Smith decides to build yet another 1.5-mile cookie cutter!
Don't worry folks. Believe it or not, Bruton is something like 81 years old, so we won't be listening to his bad ideas forever. Hey, let's charge a ridiculous amount for race tickets, and then black it out on local television should the event not be a sellout!!!!
6. In an effort to be the first to park, Kirk Shelmerdine and Dave Blaney crash and cause a first-lap caution.
Because in the world of start and parking, finishing 43rd is just as good as finishing first.
7. David Ragan actually races the Big Brown Truck, claiming it's more aerodynamic and driver-friendly than the Car Of Tomorrow.
And NASCAR subsequently fines and places the 6 team on probation for the all-encompassing Rule 12-4A: Actions Detrimental to Stock Car Racing. That rule seemingly has more provisions in it than the Democrats' pork barrel-laden stimulus bill.
8. The Allstate girls go away forever. Seriously.
I love to see the pretty ladies during race broadcasts. Emphasis on pretty, and I don't think the Allstate girls fall into that category. Unless you are counting Kasey Kahne as one of them.
9. NASCAR kicks up their fines for rules violations.
Any rules violations will now be penalized with 200 points, a 10-week crew-chief suspension, and 100 hours of watching bad racing movies such as Days of Thunder and Talladega Nights. If you ain't first, you're last.
10. Brian France and several other top NASCAR dogs are arrested for fraud, leading to the first non-France family member as the sport's president: D.W. himself.
This would kill two birds with one stone: no more Brian the Brain screwing things up, and no more banging my head against the wall after 15 minutes of listening to Waltrip during a FOX broadcast.
A man can dream, can't he?