Crystal ball has Kyle Busch winning


Each year I vow never again to risk embarrassment by sharing my visions from a myopic crystal ball.

Four days into 2008 and already my first resolution is shattered -- just like many of my past predictions. But tradition dies hard, and here's another try.

(Neither this columnist nor the Review-Journal is liable in any way should you lose a wager based on these prognostications.)

In NASCAR, I was right picking Carl Edwards as the 2007 Busch Series champion, but it went downhill from there.

My pick to win the Cup championship, Tony Stewart, flopped in the Chase while Jimmie Johnson -- who didn't make my preseason top five -- dominated to win the crown for the second straight year.

Four of my top five made the Chase (Stewart, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch), but only Kyle Busch finished fifth or better.

I was correct in predicting Toyota would not win a Cup race in its inaugural year.

My sure bet in the Craftsman Truck Series failed when Brendan Gaughan and his Las Vegas-based South Point Racing didn't win two races. His team didn't even win once. In fact, the team has shut down its operation.

Foggy vision had me seeing Johnny Benson as the truck champ. He isn't -- that distinction goes to Ron Hornaday Jr.

In NHRA, Tony Schumacher won his fourth consecutive "official" Top Fuel championship as I predicted. But I've negated that victory because his title came under NHRA's absurd playoff format.

My sure bet in drag racing hit when rookie Ashley Force finished higher in Funny Car points than Kenny Bernstein.

As the giant racing tire fell again to harken a new year, Father Time requested another motor sports forecast.

So here goes:

• In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, only an idiot would pick someone other than Johnson or Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon to win the championship.

That's why my pick to win it all is Kyle Busch, who finished fifth in 2007.

The Las Vegas native's move to Joe Gibbs Racing puts him in a team's big house with Stewart and Denny Hamlin instead of being relegated to Hendrick Motorsports' back garage.

Busch, 22, has won in everything he's driven. The rap that his Cup success is due to Hendrick's support is bogus.

No way NASCAR is about to let Johnson or Gordon dominate this year like they did in 2007, when they combined to win 16 of 36 points races.

Gibbs' move from Chevrolet to Toyota will be a greater benefit than hindrance.

The top five: Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Gordon, Johnson.

• Las Vegas Motor Speedway will announce it will host a second annual Cup race beginning in 2009.

The race will be moved from New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which within months will have its sale finalized to Speedway Motorsports Inc., which also owns LVMS.

To soften the blow to those who have helped sell out New Hampshire races for several years, SMI will say it is moving the race only temporarily while improvements are made at New Hampshire.

It will, however, remain at Las Vegas. One of the two dates at SMI's Atlanta track eventually will shift to New Hampshire.

• Kyle Busch will win a Cup race before Dale Earnhardt Jr., who replaced Busch at Hendrick -- but Earnhardt will win at Hendrick before any driver wins for his former team, Dale Earnhardt Inc.

• Toyota will win more Cup races than Dodge.

• In drag racing, the NHRA faces a tumultuous year.

The pending sale of its professional assets to HD Partners Acquisition Corp. is supposed to go to HD stockholders this month for approval.

Regardless of the vote, don't expect top team owners and drivers to continue rolling over and going along with whatever NHRA legislates.

Safety and purse sizes are major issues along with NHRA's Countdown, which determines its pro champions.

Many veterans said they would not make waves while Wally Parks was alive, but his death in October changes the landscape.

• John Force Racing will struggle early while adjusting to safer but heavier chassis and new Ford engines, but Force will complete the greatest comeback in NHRA history by winning a 15th championship a year after his near-fatal crash in Texas.

• Ashley Force will become the first woman to win an NHRA Funny Car title.

• In the often-overlooked world of open-wheel racing, Danica Patrick will win her first IndyCar race because of a depleted field that's lost former champions Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr. to NASCAR.

• The Champ Car World Series will cancel at least one of its events.

• Serious merger talks will begin between IndyCar and Champ Car with a goal of blending into one series by 2010.

That's how I see 2008 through my mystic orb.

May the new year be a safe one for you and racing.

Jeff Wolf's motor sports column is published Friday. He can be reached at 383-0247 or jwolf@reviewjournal.com.

 

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