NASCAR Competitors Offer March Madness Predictions

David PhillipsAnalyst IMarch 21, 2009

ATLANTA - MARCH 06:  Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, prepares to qualify for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 6, 2009 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The upcoming back-to-back short track races at Bristol and Martinsvilleare arguably the most exciting weekends of the NASCAR season. The same can be said for the beginning of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament which starts today. Several competitors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series showed their passion and knowledge as college basketball fans and offered their tournament predictions:

Michael Annett (NNS No. 15 Pilot Travel Centers Toyota)

Final Four Picks: Kansas, Missouri, Duke, North Carolina

Champion: Kansas

TJ Bell (NCWTS No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota)

Final Four Picks: Wake Forest, Memphis, Pittsburgh, North Carolina

“I only watch basketball during the final four because it is a crazy time of year for those basketball fans. It is great to see how emotional people get for their teams.”

Clint Bowyer (NSCS No. 33 Cheerios Chevrolet)

Final Four Picks: Kansas, Memphis, Pittsburgh, North Carolina

Champion: Kansas

“Kansas won it all last year, and I think they are ready to do it again.  Florida went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007, so I'd like to see that trend continue.  They're in a tough conference and lost some of their big players from last year, but I think they'll be just fine.”

Kurt Busch (NSCS No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)

Final Four Picks: Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, North Carolina

Champion: North Carolina

"I know that's the popular choice around this area of the country, but picking the Tar Heels to win it has nothing to do with popularity.  I've seen them several times on TV this year and I'm convinced they are that good -- good enough to win it all.  I personally am pulling for a miracle run by through Arizona Wildcats, but I know that's highly impossible."

Kyle Chapman (spotter for NNS No. 27 Kleenex Ford)

Final Four Picks: Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma

Champion: Louisville

“Of course, my heart will be pulling for my Hilltoppers from Western Kentucky (Chapman was the captain of the Western Kentucky basketball team his senior season, 1999.)  It's the best time of year for a college basketball junkie.  I will be checking my Sprint cell phone throughout the Bristol weekend to keep up with the latest scores."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NSCS No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet)

Final Four Picks: Louisville, Memphis, Duke, North Carolina

Champion: North Carolina

“I enjoy watching the tournament and listening to all the analyst’s points of view on the brackets and who they think should have got in and who shouldn’t. Bobby Knight is a good one to listen to before the tournament starts. It gives you a good crash course on how every team’s season went. You get to learn about the Cinderella teams, who they are and how they got there. You get the whole story. I always try to pull for the (University of North Carolina) Tarheels but I like to pull for the underdogs too. You always want to see a team like Davidson come in and get to the Final Four. It’s exciting for those teams and you want to see them do well.”

Rick Gay (crew chief for NCWTS No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota)

Final Four Picks: Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, North Carolina

Champion: Memphis

“I feel like the Final Four will come down to Memphis, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and North Carolina. As far as who will take home the big prize….. I’m looking for Memphis to take it this year. They came really close in 2008 and I think they have more momentum than the others.”

Todd Gordon (crew chief for NNS No. 27 Kleenex Ford)

Final Four Picks: Louisville, UConn, Pittsburgh, North Carolina

Champion: Louisville

Jim Harris (owner HT Motorsports)

Final Four Picks: Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, North Carolina

Champion: Pittsburgh

Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge)

Final Four Picks: Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Syracuse

Champion: Syracuse

“Syracuse has a strong team. I think they might be able to pull it off.”

Jason Keller (NNS No. 27 Kleenex Ford)

Final Four Picks: Kansas, Memphis, Duke, Clemson

(Keller attended Clemson for three years. He still lives near there and attends games)

Joey Logano (NSCS No. 20 Home Depot Toyota/NNS No. 20 Game Stop Toyota)

Final Four Picks: Louisville, UConn, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma

Champion: UConn

“The Big East has easily been the best conference all year.  I think they’ll take three teams to Detroit.  I have to stick with my Huskies to win it all.  Jim Calhoun always gets the best out of his team during the tournament.  Hopefully we’ll get to meet Pitt in the final because there is no way they will beat us three times this year.”

Eric McClure (NNS No. 24 Hefty Ford)

Final Four Picks: Louisville, Memphis, Duke, North Carolina

“I believe UNC will win it all because Ty Lawson is back and whenever Tyler Hansbrough touches the ball, the refs are already calling a foul on someone.  I prefer UNC not to win because most Virginia Tech football fans are bandwagon UNC fans and since I love The University of Virginia, I can’t like anyone that Virginia Tech likes.  I am kidding sort of.  The ACC is a tough conference and they will prevail.  Duke lives and dies with Gerald Henderson and Louisville is solid but not as flashy as other teams and Memphis let me down last year by missing their free throws so I am not going to go with them.  Either way, it’s a wide open field this year and we will see some great basketball.”

Casey Mears (NSCS No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet)

Final Four Picks: Wake Forest, Memphis, Villanova, North Carolina

Champion: North Carolina

"They are a powerhouse! Even though Ty Lawson is  injured, they are going to go all the way.”

Timothy Peters (NCWTS No. 17 Strutmasters Toyota)

Final Four Picks: Wake Forest, Memphis, Duke, North Carolina

Champion: Duke

“I would like to see Duke play Wake in the final game, and I think Coach K and the Blue Devils win the game.”

Bleacher Reports own Brian Scott (NCWTS No. 16 Albertsons Toyota)

Final Four Picks: Kansas, Washington, Duke, North Carolina

Champion: North Carolina

"I have a little regional bias with Washington, growing up in Boise, Idaho we were exposed to a lot of UW sports. Also I applied to college there and was accepted. Duke was a tough pick but I think they will bounce back from almost losing to Belmont in the first round last year. Plus I would love to see a Duke vs. NC rematch.

"Kansas is the defending champ, I know they lost a lot of guys but they have a great coach and are always tough in the tourney. Ultimately though you have to go with North Carolina. They are so deep and talented.Ty Lawson's injury concerns me a little but Tyler Hansbrough's tenacity and heart will see them through."

Bleacher Reports David Phillips (B/R Analyst)

Final Four Picks: Michigan St.,Duke, Carolina, UConn

Champion: Michigan St

"I have to go out on a limb with state but Duke and Carolina are over hyped and I didn't want to go with them."

Editor's note: This is a press release. I copied it, just thought everyone would find it interesting.

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