Sink. Swim. As Keanu Reeves said in "Speed" when stealing a line from Dennis Hopper, “What do you do?”
It’s the end of April and the beginning of the “Oh crap, is our 2011 really in trouble?” part of the 2011 Sprint Cup schedule. For me, I’m down a fake ten dollars and have plenty of time to succeed. For Joe Gibbs Racing, this weekend’s race at Richmond is a benchmark for sinking or swimming in 2011.
"I wish I could say something classy and inspirational, but that just wouldn’t be our style. … Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory… lasts forever."
Keanu Reeves played a down and out quarterback in "The Replacements." Richmond makes JGR look like John Elway. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have the best average finishing positions and each won here last year. Joey Logano is ninth. Hamlin is even hosting a charity race. All of the math and data suggests dumping my money on JGR and smiling as I cash in fake money that doesn’t exist.
But as a far better actor said in "Heat" — “There is another side to that coin.”
Denny Hamlin is 17th in the points. Joey Logano is 24th. Kyle Busch has one win, but hasn’t been happy with his ride. Engine failures, questions about engine failures and an overall sense of stress hover over the teams.
Not to mention, when you take your shot at the champ and miss, there’s bound to be carryover. Who gave Ali a good fight, lost, then came back to win in a rematch? Same with Karl Malone in Utah and anyone who fought The Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
Meanwhile, Richard Childress is running four competitive teams, Hendrick Motorsports has the No. 88 back on track and Roush Fenway is showcasing a motor many can’t hang with over long runs under green. When you look around and don’t see anyone else slipping up, it means you’re the one slipping up. Uh oh.
Sinking or swimming at Richmond, what will I do?
20 fake dollars on Jimmie Johnson at 6/1:
NASCAR’s Undertaker doesn’t have a 19-0 record at Richmond. But three wins and momentum is enough for me.
20 fake dollars in Kevin Harvick at 8/1:
Of all drivers without Toyota on the bumper, nobody has a better track record over the last five years. So much for my pledge to not pick him all season.
10 fake dollars on Clint Bowyer 15/1:
Bowyer’s won at the track, has been centimeters away from a win and is running with a hot team.
If Dale Jr. ends his reverse Undertaker streak, I will be happy and sad. If JGR proves me wrong, I’ll feel dumber than Keanu Reeves in "Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure."
Here’s what The Spread thinks, and insert random catchphrase here.
Carl Edwards 6/1
Kyle Busch 6/1
Jimmie Johnson 6/1
Jeff Gordon 8/1
Denny Hamlin 8/1
Kevin Harvick 8/1
Tony Stewart 10/1
Clint Bowyer 15/1
Matt Kenseth 15/1
Kurt Busch 15/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr 18/1
Greg Biffle 20/1
Ryan Newman 30/1
Joey Logano 30/1
Jeff Burton 35/1
Juan Pablo Montoya 35/1
Kasey Kahne 35/1
Mark Martin 35/1
Jamie McMurray 40/1
David Reutimann 60/1
Martin Truex Jr 60/1
Brian Vickers 75/1
Paul Menard 75/1
AJ Allmendinger 75/1
David Ragan 75/1
David Gilliland 100/1
Andy Lally 100/1
Marcos Ambrose 100/1
Regan Smith 100/1
Bobby Labonte 100/1
Brad Keselowski 100/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 100/1