Well it’s a new year and time for another NASCAR season, so with that being said I think its time for some 2006 predictions. These are pre-preseason predictions, before next weeks testing in Daytona, before we see all new faces in the new places. These predictions can be held in stone so here we go.
First off, and I think the boldest prediction that can be made. Bobby Labonte will win for Petty Enterprises in 2006. It will be a great victory for him and that whole organization. They are getting all the tools in place and they have been slowly and quietly building this company up. Bobby has been needing a chance of pace and location for a long, long time. With the addition of Robbie Loomis this team will not be a powerhouse, not yet, but this year will bring a win to that team and one of the greatest moments in NASCAR history.
The team that will become a front runner once again will be Richard Childress Racing, leading that charge and winning Rookie of the year will be Clint Boyer. Bowyer perhaps could win a race or two, along with that his teammates will be top ten contenders and make the Chase in 2006. Childress, Harvick, and Burton are used to winning and 2005 was not a banner year for them. 2006 will bring in good runs and wins for all of them.
The new look DEI, with Martin Truex and Dale Jr, working together could be a breath of fresh air for the team. But I think all of the infighting and disarray at the Garage Mahal will continue. Dale Jr will contented at a few races and might win one or two but making the Chase will be a stretch, it just doesn’t seem that this team has what it takes to rebound from troubles of 2005. Martin will not bring his Busch series dominance to the Nextel Cup Series, there have not been many Busch champs who have stepped up and dominated in their first year in NASCAR’s top series, and Martin is not any different. Look for him to be more of a dud than a stud in the 2006 Nextel Cup season.
Kurt Busch will not make the chase in 2006, his recent run in with the law and the bad break up with Roush will weigh upon his competitive nature. He is going to try hard to out do the mega team at Roush and clear his name as a former champion. This will cause him to make mistakes that he normally would not make, making his first year at Penske a tough one to swallow.
Roush Racing’s dominance on the top ten and in the win column might come to an end this season. The driver with the most weight on his shoulder is not Mark Martin or Greg Biffle, its Jamie McMurray. This is a make or break season for him, he has been in substandard equipment and doing substandard driving recently. Jamie like Kurt oddly enough will be trying to show everyone that he is worth the cause of the big contract war of 2005. He will be putting himself in more situations than he should and his patients to wait for the right time will be in the back of his mind.
Mark Martin will give the Salute to You one more year. Mark will be lucky to make the chase if he makes it at all. Luck will catch up to him and this year will be a tough one on Mark. His team is intact but I just don’t see him contending at the front of the pack for wins this year like last year. In 2005 he was having fun but I believe he should have hung up the helmet and shoes and concentrated on his son Matt and his future with Ford.
Carl Edwards might just be in for the tough part of Cup racing. He will run toward the middle of the pack and struggle for a win. He used a lot of luck up last season, it was a great semi-rookie season for Carl he won, and made the chase in his first full year. It was amazing, but this year will not be as hot for him and back flips will be few and far between. I will go out on a limb with this one and say Carl is in a lot of people’s books as a championship contender, but my nutty pick is that he will not make the chase.
And last but not least, The 2005 Champ, Tony Stewart, is obliviously the man to beat, and if he can keep this new and improved happy Tony he will be once again the man to beat. There is not much that will make Tony fall from the top of the list. He will have new people trying to knock him off, but it will not happen and Tony will have his back to back championships.
Now a challenge to you the fans, If you agree or disagree or want to see someone added or deleted from this list let me know and ill answer your e-mails and give you a chance to speak your mind and give you my opinions about your picks in my next article.