Skirts and Scuffs Predictions: LJ Cloud chooses the champs

With the 2012 NASCAR season poised to take the command to start engines, getting ready for the pace laps of the Budweiser Shootout and the Gatorade Duels, Skirts and Scuffs contributors are getting ready for the season, too. If you haven't already noticed, we're making our predictions as to who will take home top honors.

Here are my picks for each of the major series.

Sprint Cup
The 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship resembled a cross between a heavyweight prize fight and a Nantucket sleigh ride with the epic battle between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. The 2012 season, to borrow a phrase from country singer Eric Church, has “got a whole lotta boot left to fill." With all the changes that an equally epic silly season brought, those boots may not be new but they’re not broken in yet. I’ve been watching NASCAR since 1998 and I can’t remember when so many teams made so many personnel changes in such a short time.

Will those changes result in a season as exciting the last one? I don’t know, but it makes handicapping the Chase difficult, especially before the first green flag flies. Picking the ultimate winner? It’s nearly impossible. Five-Time could become Six-Time, Four-Time could become Five-Time. Or perhaps history will repeat itself with Stewart and Edwards facing off again.  But I don’t think so.
Phote by Debbie Ross
Photo by Debbie Ross
I believe 2012 will see a continuation of the Harvick vs. Busch rivalry. This time, however,  they’ll be doing it for points and the ultimate prize: The Sprint Cup Championship. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick both eliminated distractions during the off season. Harvick’s impending fatherhood should help keep him in check, and Busch’s partnership with his brother Kurt serves as a regular reminder to rein in his destructive and self-sabotaging impulses. I say the two go at it again, but this time they channel that aggression into winning the championship that has eluded each of them. Who will be the final victor? It's a tough call, but I say Kevin “The Closer” Harvick wins the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship.

Nationwide Series 
Photo by Debbie Ross 
Maybe it’s the nostalgic feeling I get from seeing that black Richard Childress Racing No. 3 car. Maybe it’s that Austin Dillon had 3 top 10s and a top five in his four Nationwide Series starts last season. Maybe it’s also that Dillon took the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship with two wins, 10 tops fives and 16 top tens, prevailing over veterans like Johnny Sauter and Ron Hornaday Jr., but I believe Austin Dillon will pull a Dale Earnhardt Jr. and win the championship in his first full season of racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The Owner's Points championship, however, will go to Kyle Busch Motorsports. One brother has the most NNS Series wins, the other has a Cup championship. Unless they implode, the Busch brothers will be nearly invincible on the track.           
Camping World Trucks Series 

Photo by L.J. Cloud
James Buescher finished third by 29 points last season with 24 races to the rest of the contenders’ 25. I believe my fellow Texan will be motivated by his brush with the championship and he'll be back in position to win the championship that slipped through his fingers in 2011. Ty Dillon could threaten for the title but I believe Buescher will prevail.


Skirts and Scuffs Predictions: LJ Cloud chooses the champs Skirts and Scuffs Predictions: LJ Cloud chooses the champs Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 Rating: 5