Skirts and Scuffs Predictions: Amanda Ebersole chooses the champs

"Magic 8 ball, who will win in 2012?"

That is the age-old question we ask at this time of year, each year and I normally stink at these predictions. Alas, it is a new year and my predictions for the championships in NASCAR all have one theme, "second place sucks!"

As much as second place stinks, it can also be the greatest motivation to overcome. 

Before you read on for my picks, my 2011 recap: I was 0-3. Denny Hamlin, Elliott Sadler and Todd Bodine all fell short of their respective championships last season, although I give a shoutout to Sadler for finishing 2nd in the Nationwide Series championship.

Sprint Cup Champion: Carl Edwards

After finishing second twice in his young career, I feel that 2012 is
finally Edwards' time to shine! Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
“It’s was a tie dammit,” those words uttered by Dr. Kate Edwards solidify my choice for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. Carl Edwards did not lose because he was not a contender the entire season; he lost because of a tie breaker.

After leading the points for over 20 weeks during the 2011 season, Edwards saw the Sprint Cup title fall from his grasp by just one point.

When asked by team owner Jack Roush what he and crew chief Bob Osborne could have done differently to win, Edwards replied, "If I had to run it over again, I would do the exact same thing. We did the right things and we did the best we could, and if we do that every time we will be fine."

Many are dismissing Edwards due to the proposed “curse” of the 2nd place finishers such as Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin and Edwards himself.  That little mind game is not going to bother Carl.

"And I'm going to treat next season just like I treated that last race: I'm not going to let someone or something slow me down and cause me to make mistakes. We're going to go out and do the best that we can -- and I swear to you right here: if we don't run well next season, it won't be because we got messed up in the head over not winning. We're truly going out there and focusing on what's important. That's not just because of me. I've got truly good people around me who will keep reminding me."

With that confidence, I have faith that Carl Edwards will be hoisting the Sprint Cup come November. 

Dark horse:  For a dark horse pick, I would like to give a shoutout to Penske Racing. I truly believe that Brad Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger are going to be two drivers to watch this season.

First-time winners: My vote for a first time winner this season is AJ Allmendinger. Penske Racing has momentum from 2011 and Allmendinger gained personal momentum during the latter part of the season. Winning the Rolex 24 hour race will also provide a boost of confidence for AJ.

Nationwide Series Champion: Elliott Sadler

Once again, I am choosing Sadler. Experience will pay off this season.
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
After his move to the Nationwide Series in 2011, Elliott Sadler was hailed as the probable winner of the championship by many, including myself.

I am once again riding the Elliott Sadler train into 2012, but with clearer conviction of why I think Sadler will be our champion this season.

Kevin Harvick Inc. has now merged with powerhouse Richard Childress Racing and with the 5 Nationwide championships that RCR has won, that has to put an extra pep in Sadler's step. Sure, he will be competing against teammate Austin Dillon, but my vote still goes to Elliott because he has the experience and is hungry for that title!  

In addition, Sadler has a new crew chief in Luke Lambert and Sadler will look to Lambert to revitalize his team this season.  

Dark horse: Austin Dillon is my dark horse pick simply because he is on a H-O-T streak. Like Sadler, he will have the winning support from the RCR and KHI merger underneath him and what more can a driver ask for? Childress would like nothing more then to see his grandson win the 2011 NCWTS championship and follow it up with the 2012 Nationwide Series championship - once he gets through my man Elliott Sadler first! 

First-time winners: I am going out on a limb here, DANICA PATRICK! I fully believe that Danica Patrick will be pulling into victory lane this season. Running the full Nationwide Series schedule on top on a limited NSCS schedule and working with mentors and talent like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart, Patrick will get there. Her fourth-place finish last season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway shows her capabilities as a driver.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion: Johnny Sauter

Sauter will be shouting "God Bless America" come November!
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
This was honestly my hardest decision to make, because I am a NCWTS gal! Picking one driver to win is like asking a mother who her favorite child is.

I am sticking with my theory, Johnny Sauter lost by a scant six points. Knowing his fiery spirit, Johnny has been thinking of where he lost those six points and what he should have done differently.

The 2011 season brought Sauter two wins and a new catchphrase, "God Bless America," after being black-flagged at Texas Motor Speedway. But I believe that the 2011 season was a year of growth for Sauter and his team, learning from the loss of a championship. Sauter loves the movie Rocky and I think he now has the "eye of the tiger" and his eye on the belt, I mean cup.

In addition, ThorSport Racing has switched manufacturers and is now running Toyotas. Toyota trucks have always proven to be winners in the NCWTS and ThorSport is a winning team, so I expect great success once they hit the track.

Dark horse: James Buescher - I hate calling Buescher a dark horse because he has the experience, but is lacking the wins to compete with the other contenders.  Although ...

First-time winners: I see James Buescher winning very soon, he has been so close multiple times and something always stands in his way. In fact, I think his new teammates Miguel Paludo and Nelson Piquet Jr. also may be up contending for wins.

Paulie Harraka is also going to be a driver to watch, joining newly formed Wauters Motorsports, Harraka is a 2009 NASCAR Camping World West Series Rookie of the Year. Harraka, a former Drive for Diversity participant, is a young gun who will be making waves.

Amanda Ebersole brings the readers of Skirts and Scuffs interviews and insight into the people who make NASCAR the sport we all love. Besides interviews, Amanda also writes her weekly columns In the Rearview Mirror and NASCAR By the Numbers. Catch up on all Amanda's writing by clicking here. Feel free to contact Amanda via Twitter or e-mail.
Skirts and Scuffs Predictions: Amanda Ebersole chooses the champs Skirts and Scuffs Predictions: Amanda Ebersole chooses the champs Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, February 13, 2012 Rating: 5