Is everybody ready for this year’s Sprint All-Star Challenge?
We’re back down to about a 20-car field, the way it normally was when I was growing up in the heyday of NASCAR.
The smaller field gives us the potential for a lot more fireworks and an exciting main event.
Just as exciting, though, will be the Sprint Showdown, which will feature a slew of NASCAR’s finest that have been mired in winless droughts as of late.
Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, and Martin Truex Jr. are among the drivers to have to line up in an inflated Showdown field this year.
This week’s column is going to be different than my normal fantasy racing column.
Instead of offering five picks, I’m going to pick the Showdown and breakdown all four segments individually.
Here we go...
Clint Bowyer will win the Sprint Showdown, while Carl Edwards will take the fan vote.
The RCR cars and the Roush Fenway cars are miles ahead of anybody else in the Showdown field, and I can see the two teams fighting it out at the end for the win.
A late wreck caused by a desperate backmarker will bunch the two teams up in the closing laps.
In the end, Burton will push Bowyer ahead.
(For the record, Robby Gordon would win the fan vote if not for so many big names in the Showdown).
Edwards will pay back his loving support group by winning the first segment.
The Hendrick cars will be the best by far on the mandatory 25-lap pit stop, but Edwards will use up his car early to take the early honors.
Jimmie Johnson will pass his championship rival from 2008 in segment two to hold the point but will dare not to make the optional pit stop—one of only a handful of drivers to decide not to do so.
Jeff Gordon will take advantage of his Hendrick teammate’s incorrect decision and blow by to take segment three, with Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth hot on his tail.
The pit stop before segment four won’t produce many changes to the running order, but it will set up a shootout between Gordon, Harvick, Kenseth, Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for all the marbles.
Inevitably, somebody is going to tear up some sheet metal during the final segment.
Pride will be hurt, tempers will flare, and some pretty good cars are going to lose a shot at a million dollars.
But Earnhardt Jr.—10 years removed from his first All-Star win—will find a way to weave through the wreckage and put his No. 88 in the winner’s circle at the end of segment four.
What better way to honor the Intimidator on the weekend of his Hall of Fame induction?
That’s all I’ve got. Sounds like a hell of a time, doesn’t it?
Now we just need to make it happen.
Chop chop, boys—make me look good!