|08/29/19||DIBENNEDETTO NASCAR'S ROCKY BALBOA|
|06/26/19||FROM JOURNEYMAN DRIVER TO HALL OF FAMER|
|06/18/19||WINNERS NOT ADDING UP|
|05/25/19||THE 600 IS STILL A CROWN JEWEL|
|05/15/19||NEXT TWO WEEKS COULD BE TOO GOOD|
|04/10/19||WALTRIP A TWO-WAY HALL OF FAMER|
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN…
The other night I was home, sitting there by myself watching an episode of Gunsmoke. You see, before he died, my dad hooked me on old westerns. Marshal Dillon, who was, by the way, the quickest draw on TV, was right in the middle of a showdown.
Just as Dillon pulled his pistol and the shot rang out as if on cue, the phone rang. The bad guy hit the ground in front of Miss Kitty just as I picked up the phone. It was my good buddy Randy Burnette, whose claim to fame was lapping some young kid named Jeff Gordon during a race at the Buck Baker Driving School way back in the early 90's. True story and there's video, but I digress.
He asked me if I wanted to make some extra money at 100-1 Las Vegas odds and then said I was just the guy to make this bet a sure thing. He instantly had my attention. I had already begun counting imaginary $100 bills in my head when I suddenly thought to ask what did I need to do?
"Not much of anything," said Randall, which is what Tana the pretty little waitress with the sweetest hint of southern drawl calls him where we eat breakfast. Just pick the order the Championship Four drivers will finish at Homestead. Cocky for the briefest of moments, I thought this is a piece of cake. However, I quickly snapped back to reality, smoke already coming out of my ears with the grey matter between them over-revving and the clutch slipping. My heart started picking up the pace like a car coming into the Geico Restart Zone at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Taking a deep breath, I began to calm down. I'm thinking I can do this. Then, I started really chewing on the fact there's no Fido in this four, not a dog or bow wow in the bunch. On pure performance, I can easily picture Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Martin Truex, Jr. finishing 1-2-3-4.
But in what order? I reengaged my brain and shifted gears.
Kyle Busch has been rock-solid all year. He's made eight trips to victory lane and is coming off a win at Phoenix. He also the runner-up recently on the mile and a half track at Kansas. That's the same size of Homestead-Miami Speedway. Did I mention, he's also led nearly 1,500 laps. Busch has been consistent and cool under the gun all year
Like Kyle, Kevin Harvick has captured eight checkered flags in 2018. I'll argue that number could be at least 12 if they didn't shoot themselves in the foot or have weird circumstances pop up late in races. The California native has led over 1,900 laps and dominated the last shootout on an intermediate speedway at Texas two weeks ago. Yes, you've got to figure in the 4 Team did get caught with their hand in the cookie jar by NASCAR inspectors after that race. You don't mess the with the rear spoiler unless there is a definite gain, but I also think it's just another piece to the puzzle that's made them so dominant that day, and perhaps all year, when it comes to the 1.5-mile tracks. So, the illegal spoiler made a difference, but I don't think it was THE difference.
He hasn't pounded out the wins or the laps led as he did on the way to the 2017 title, yet Martin Truex, Jr. is going to be very dangerous to deal with. He hasn't won during the Playoff, but Truex was slammed out of wins at almost the start-finish line at both Charlotte and Martinsville, punted by Jimmie Johnson in one instance and bashed out of the way by Joey Logano in the other. You figure that in with four runner-up finishes and you find it hard to believe the guy has only won four times this year.
As for Mr. Logano, after a slow start to the season, he's come on strong as the Playoff has wound down. Prior to crashing out of Phoenix last week, in the previous five races he had a win and averaged a fourth-place finish. After struggling to find speed all year long, Logano's car can now not only keep up but, perhaps, keep the lead should he find himself on top during the closing laps Sunday night.
That's what my intellectual prowess picked up on as I meditated on one of the strongest Champion Fours we've ever seen. The numbers, though, just turned into mumbo-jumbo bouncing around inside my skull. There had to be a better way.
Then it hit me. I'm going to go with my gut instinct. That was not, however, something I shared with Randy, not wanting him to think I had thrown out black and white stats for a belly itch or indigestion.
That's when I blurted out Harvick's going to win the Ford EcoBoost 400. I was stunned by Randy's reaction, "Ahh come on Big Dog (that's right he calls me Big Dog) I don't want him to win. Are you sure?"
Sure, I'm sure…sort of. The rest of the order I gave him Busch, Logano
Harvick will be fast and impervious to pressure. If they don't make any mistakes on pit road, he'll be tough to beat. Busch can handle the heat too, yet could wind up, tantalizingly, a few hundred feet short as he did a year ago. Logano has been "Mr. Consistent" in the Playoff, but does he really have the speed to keep up when it comes to crunch time? Maybe yes. Maybe No. In last year's season-finale, Truex and company proved they were made of championship metal. But their luck in 2018 has at times been downright bad and trouble just seems to keep finding Truex. Not to mention, with Furniture Row Racing shutting down I wonder if the distraction of people trying to find new jobs, their futures uncertain, might hurt their performance. This is one super focused group, they're also not Superman.
So, there you have it. If I was a betting man and could wager Randy's money, not mine, you now know the direction I would go. I hope he wins a big pile of cash and remembers my new nickname. Instead of proclaiming me to be the "Guru", which would fit if I was right in this case, I'd rather be called by my rapper tag "Ten Percent", which by the way is no relation to "50 Cent".
Then, I could just have Tana call him and say, "When you show up Tuesday morning Randall be a sugar and show us the money!"