I'm in the Mood...To Make Bold NASCAR Predictions That Is

John DoeCorrespondent IMarch 6, 2009

I don't know if it has anything to due with the fact that March Madness is heating up, but all day, I have been in the mood to do an entry where I made a few outrageous predictions for this Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta.

At the top of that list? Mark Martin would end his long losing streak, and Joey Logano would pick up his first career top 10 finish.

Well, Martin ran away with the pole, so picking him to win on Sunday would be kind of obvious. Bugger. Logano struggled in practice, and was the slowest car in qualifying (that made the race). Double bugger. Back to square one, I guess.

But I will make an outside-the-box prediction for a winner on Sunday. How about Juan Pablo Montoya? He and Brian Pattie have formed great chemistry in a short period of time, and seeing how they are no longer being anchored down by Dodge engines, the sky is the limit.

He's run well at Atlanta in the past, and remember was a contender at Texas last fall until David Gilliland decided to use his car as a weapon. So there you have it: JPM wins his first stock car race on an oval this Sunday. Guarantee you it won't happen hahaha.

As for any other surprises, I could say that I expect another strong run by Gilliland and the TRG car, but translating success from Las Vegas to Atlanta will be easier said than done. You have to give that team credit for their 14th place, lead lap finish last week.

Recall that this 71 car deal was put together at the last minute, and that they have no solid plans beyond Bristol in two weeks. But even with the DNQ at Daytona, they could still be in the top 35 after the first five races are in the book. At that point, Kevin Buckler will have to keep sending his car to the track for the guaranteed prize money.

On the tire front (since we have to keep a constant eye on Goodyear), there was a tire test at Atlanta in January, so don't expect any failures or complaints from unhappy drivers, as was the case last year.

Tony Stewart and others had reason to gripe a year ago because that tire was literally atrocious. It singlehandedly turned one of typically most exciting races of the year into one of the biggest stinkers. Drivers couldn't even race in the bottom groove for extended periods of time on slightly old tires.

If I do have a concern about the tire, it would have to be the fact that two of the four drivers providing input at the test were Sam Hornish and Scott Speed. Not to knock them, but I would want somebody more proven in a stock car giving feedback to the Goodyear engineers.

Thankfully, Greg Biffle and JPM were also there.

So I'll go ahead and predict the tire Goodyear brings holds up well on Sunday, and we have the biannual exciting Atlanta race. Unlike my Juan Pablo Montoya to win prophecy, this one has a strong chance of happening.