02/10/11 10:51AM Daytona 500, Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR, nationwide series, Sprint Cup

Johnson A Six Shooter

February 10, 2011

Lesson Learned – Johnson The Safe Bet For 2011
 
            DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 10, 2011) – No long shots, no dark horses. All limbs remained unoccupied.
The NASCAR media corps played it safe in the annual NASCARMedia.com preseason poll, picking five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson to win his sixth title – and come one short of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for most all-time.
But here’s the thing: Past polls suggest that the press often goes for the long shot. Last year was the first time the media picked Johnson in any of his championship seasons.
Clearly, the voters – 125 in all – learned their lesson.
Said Johnson, “Finally! Although I guess they picked me last year. I just hope they are right again.”
Rounding out the top 10: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer.
During its stop in January’s Charlotte Media Tour, NASCAR announced that the 11th and 12th positions in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup would go to the two drivers outside the top 10 with the most wins, provided they were in the top 20 in points.
The media’s picks for those two spots: Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth. McMurray would have earned a “wild card” nod last year if the new rule were in place.
 
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Media ‘Pick’ Sadler To Unify Title
 
For the first time, all drivers must pick the national series in which they will receive driver championship points. Elliott Sadler picked the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
In the preseason media poll, the press picked him.
Sadler, who returns to full-time NASCAR Nationwide competition for the first time since 1998, will also unify the title – so predicts the press.
The media were also asked to choose the top 10 in owner points, and the choice was Sadler’s No. 2 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet. If that comes true, the driver and owner titles would be unified for the first time since 2009.
Though double-duty drivers cannot earn driver points in the NASCAR Nationwide Series if they pick another series, their car still earns owner points.
“It is an honor to be voted as the preseason favorite by the NASCAR media to win the championship,” Sadler said. “To me, that says that even people who are not at the Kevin Harvick Inc. shop day in and day out recognize that we have a great team, solid leadership and dedicated team owners who make things happen and are willing to do whatever it takes to win.”
Said team owner Kevin Harvick, "[Sadler] knows how to win and we expect to go out and be competitive. I think anything less than the No. 2 team competing for the NASCAR Nationwide championship will be a disappointment."
Rounding out the top 10 in the NASCAR Nationwide driver poll: Aric Almirola, Justin Allgaier, Trevor Bayne, Reed Sorenson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jason Leffler, Steve Wallace, Brian Scott and Michael Annett.
Positions 2-thru-10 in the owner poll: No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge, No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford and No. 31 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet.
 
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Bodine To Nab First Ever Repeat
 
            Todd Bodine’s dominant championship run in 2010 encouraged the media to predict an unprecedented repeat in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Last year, Bodine became the third driver to win multiple championships. In 2011, the press thinks he’ll become the first driver in the 16-year history of the series to win consecutive titles.
“That’s a pretty big honor considering no one’s ever done it before,” Bodine said. “I think they’re right. We haven’t lost anybody; there’s no reason we can’t do it again. But the series will be stronger than it has ever been in its history, so it’s not going to be a cake walk.”
Bodine won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in 2006.
Rounding out the top 10 in the media poll: Ron Hornaday Jr., Austin Dillon, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Travis Kvapil, James Buescher, Brendan Gaughan, Timothy Peters and Mike Skinner.