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Mad as hell (cont.)

Posted: Friday April 27, 2007 12:57PM; Updated: Friday April 27, 2007 12:57PM
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More experts' predictions ...

LEWIS
FRANCK
TIM
TUTTLE
MARK
ZESKE
The winner of the Aaron's 499 500 will be ...
Jimmie Johnson
Kurt Busch
Tony Stewart
Why?
He's going to complete the pass he attempted on Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the closing laps of the fall race. Only this time Brian Vickers isn't going to be there to precipitate a crash. He's never won a restrictor-plate race, but he's been learning how to play the game better and better. Busch led 95 laps at Daytona in February, showing that the Penske Dodges are a nice package, before he crashed out with Tony Stewart. Busch was third at Talladega last fall, his fifth straight top-eight finish. Over the past few seasons, Stewart has been one of the best on restrictor-plate tracks. He challenged at Daytona before a late wreck and he's coming off a second last week. Plus, he shot off his mouth this week about NASCAR's tendency to throw cautions for miscellaneous debris. Stewart usually walks his talk, and he's overdue for a victory.
Keep an eye on ...
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
He's going to have one of the best finishes of this year, topping his fifth place at Martinsville.
Jimmie Johnson
He was in position to win twice at Talladega last year before Brian Vickers took him out (along with Dale Earnhardt Jr.) on the last lap in October. Johnson has led in eight straight at Talladega. He also won the Daytona 500 in '06, his first restrictor-plate win. Johnson and the No. 48 team have the art of plate racing figured out.
Jeff Gordon
Gordon has won 15 superspeedway races, including four at Talladega. He's coming off a big win and he's leading the point standings. Plus, you could expect flying beer cans if Gordon takes the checkered flag.
Don't expect much from ...
Greg Biffle
Talladega is just one track that just has not been kind to Biffle.
Denny Hamlin
It takes time to figure out how to work the draft and get everything right for the end and this will be the talented driver's sixth restrictor-plate start in Cup. Hamlin's best finish is 17th at Daytona last July; he was 21st and 22nd at Talladega last year.
Carl Edwards
Edwards does well at times on the superspeedways, with three top-10 finishes in a row at Talladega. Edwards, however, hasn't figured out a way to escape the big wrecks that often keep drivers from finishes restrictor-plate races. He's only raced in Nextel Cup since '04, but he's already been involved in eight multi-car wrecks on superspeedways.
Mythical SI.com Cup
TOTAL POINTS: 998
Last week: 190 (Jeff Gordon)
TOTAL POINTS: 1,136
Last week: 170 (Denny Hamlin)
TOTAL POINTS: 1,224
Last week: 190 (Jeff Gordon)
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