The Sprint All-Star race is forthcoming, and it will feature NASCAR’s most prominent drivers sharing the same stage with millions of dollars on the line. The big show will feature the most popular drivers in the sport, and driver aggression will be at an all-time high.
With all the excitement of the big races, many tend to forget exactly how much unpredictability can come from the Sprint Showdown and how aggressive drivers can be to contend for the top two transfer spots knowing anything can happen in the All-Star race.
After analyzing the field, I believe not only will Aric Almirola win the Sprint Showdown, but he will be able to contend in the All-Star race along with the second transfer driver. Almirola has run excellent this year despite not winning a race or garnering much attention, and he has a vastly improved team that is in prime position to shock the racing world on a very large stage.
Almirola started the 2012 Showdown from the fifth position, but he was unable to advance and finished seventh against a stronger field than he will face this year. The drivers who finished ahead of Almirola from last year who are not in this year’s showdown include such big names as Dale Earnhardt Jr., A.J. Allmendinger, and Joey Logano.
Of all the competition remaining, only Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurrary, and Juan Pablo Montoya finished ahead of Almirola in last year’s event. All have shown a lot of speed, but in my opinion, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing’s inconsistencies will again be their downfall. I don’t see either of their drivers, Montoya or McMurray, prevailing Saturday evening.
Another thing to look at is not only Almirola’s strong finish at the similar Texas Motor Speedway, but the Showdown’s history for unpredictable transfers. Just two years ago, struggling David Ragan led 22 of the 40 laps to a surprising win.
The 2009 Sprint Showdown featured dominance by Penske Racing, but it was drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and David Stremme risking it with an experimental setup that garnered attention and catapulted Hornish into victory lane.
After weighing everything out before the cars even hit the track, I feel confident in saying that Aric Almirola will not only have his first taste of victory lane at the Sprint Cup level, but he will use his Showdown victory to propel himself to better finishes as the season continues.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486