As I light a few candles, turn on the Budweiser Duels and crack open a beer I think about this 2015 Sprint Cup Season and what could happen, what I want to happen and more realistically what should happen this year.
The year 2014 was amazing for NASCAR. I was pretty pumped up too as my favorite driver Kevin Harvick won the championship, but NASCAR couldn’t have written much better of a year after implementing yet another new Chase format.
To be honest with you (thanks Charles Barkley), I haven’t thought much about NASCAR since Homestead. I mean my brother gave me a sweet Harvick Championship T-Shirt for Christmas was great but other than that it hasn’t crossed my mind much.
But as soon as I heard my girlfriend tell me she was heading out with a few friends and that the Duels were on Fox Sports One tonight – I got giddy.
So I thought to myself I have to write something. I mean I only have a couple of days before the biggest and bestest race in motorsports kicks off the 2015 season. Which I also knew meant a few things.
1) I have to predict how they’ll finish.
2) I have to compare the drivers to something/someone.
Because SNL40 just happened less than a week ago, and I can’t stop thinking about how amazing it was and because I’ve used just about every Nic Cage quote there is already – I figured I would compare each driver to an SNL cast member.
I’ve got two rules though.
1) I’m only comparing them to cast members who to this day, are still alive. Otherwise it could get – weird. So when you don’t see John Belushi, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman.. You’ll know why.
2) I’m only comparing them to men. Mainly because I may meet these guys one day and I’m assuming after looking at my numbers that millions of people are going to read this. I don’t need Denny Hamlin mad at me for comparing him to Rachel Dratch. And it could get weird. So when you don’t see Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler.. You better know why.
So here it is, my 2nd Annual how will this finish and my 1st Annual comparing NASCAR drivers to SNL cast members list.
EAT YOUR HEART OUT ROLLING STONE!
HONORABLE MENTION – The Good Enoughs
16. TONY STEWART – #14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: N/A
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Chevy Chase
Why Chevy Chase?: This is kind of mean. And not how I wanted to start this. But it makes sense right? I’m not focusing on the SNL career as much as the entire career arc – but the comparisons are there. At one time arguably the greatest there was and now, well unfortunately sad. You know the greatest is still there but who knows if we will see it again.
Why 16th Place?: I still think the greatest is there. Tony Stewart on a bad day is better than half the field. He’ll win again – at least once.
15. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: N/A
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Jason Sudeikis
Why Jason Sudeikis?: For me, Sudeikis is one of the GOATs. That is a little strong but the dude crushed, on a cast that was loaded. You had Hader, Armisen, Samberg, Myers, Wiig – loaded. And Sudeikis. If it was any other year (the late 70’s?) he would be the guy. Martin could be the guy. But he’s racing in a decade full of Hader’s, Armisen’s, Samberg’s, Myers’ and one Wiig. See what I did there?
Why 15th Place?: Martin is a freaking great driver. He’s not on a great freaking team. He’s on a great team, but his team just can’t compete at the top.
14. CLINT BOWYER – #15 Five Hour Energy Toyota
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: N/A
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Norm Macdonald
Why Norm Macdonald?: You never know what either of them are going to say. Ever. Also both very underrated and you really never know what either of them are going to say.
Why 14th Place?: We saw some wild cards get in last year. Why not Clint? That’s what I am suppose to tell you, shit. Well, uh – why not Clint?
13. KYLE LARSON – #42 Target Chevrolet
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: N/A
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Pete Davidson
Why Pete Davidson?: I wish I had the balls to put Eddie Murphy. Might be just a little premature for that though. How about Pete Davidson though? A real young guy with all the talent in the world. With SNL in a(nother) transition year, Pete could become the guy. Eddie did it. Pete could do it too. While NASCAR isn’t exactly in a transition year, some of these old farts will be pulling a Jeff Gordon sooner or later and Kyle Larson is going to be the guy.
Why 13th Place?: He finished one spot out of The Chase last year. When no one, and I mean no one probably even his parents believed he would finish there. He’ll get there this year, and then learn The Chase is a whole new ball game.
THIRD TEAM – The Put Up A Good Fights
12. GREG BIFFLE – #16 Cheez-It Ford
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 14th Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Chris Rock
Why Chris Rock?: I feel bad for Biff. He is another guy who has all this talent, but it probably isn’t being used correctly? Jack Roush is/was a good team. Unfortunately there isn’t the team around Biff there to be as dominant as he can/should be. Like Chris Rock, who was being used in correctly – put Biff in the right situation and he’ll kill. Until then..
Why 12th Place?: Same story different year. Good enough to get it done in the regular season and squeak out a few wins – doesn’t have enough to put it all together when it matters.
11. RYAN NEWMAN – #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 2nd Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Jon Lovitz*
Why Jon Lovitz?: Jon Lovitz benefited from being a pretty weak cast. Ryan Newman is going to benefit this year from coming off the year of his life. As fast as he got kicked to the curb for Kevin Harvick – he seemed to drive even faster to an unbelievable second place finish in The Chase. Lovitz came back that next year and people were watching for him, he rose to the occasion.
Why 11th Place?: Newman is coming back this year and people are watching for him. It may have been a fluke of a year, it may not have been. Either way – people will be expecting Ryan Newman this year.
10. KYLE BUSCH – #18 M&M’s Toyota
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 10th Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Adam Sandler
Why Adam Sandler?: The Sandman was the ultimate love him or hate him guy. The Younger Busch is the ultimate love him or hate him guy. Believe it or not, Sandler was fired from SNL. Kyle Busch won’t be getting fired from Joe Gibbs Racing anytime soon, but he better get back to that old Kyle Busch way of driving like he stole it – or he better hope that fire suit really does work as his seat will be getting hot. #NailedIt
Why 10th Place?: Kyle Busch is one of those guys who again I think on his worst day is better than half of the field. I don’t think he gets it all together this year, but one this is for sure – he can’t have has much bad luck as he did last year.
9. CARL EDWARDS – #19 Arris Toyota
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 9th Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Mike Myers
Why Mike Myers?: I wish I could say I’m not a huge fan of Mike Myers so I could compare him to Carl Edwards because according to my Twitter feed (shameless plug @adamgoestreich) I am not a fan of Carl Edwards. But what I do know about Myers is that he is a perfectionist. And so is Carl Edwards. They care tremendously about their craft and to their detriment, they won’t stop until things are perfect. One of the best there is. One who will always be underrated.
Why 9th Place?: New year? New team? New car? New crew chief? New line of mediocre smelly will do you good in a pinch sandwiches? 9th isn’t terrible.
SECOND TEAM – The Close But No Cigars
8. DENNY HAMLIN – #11 Fed-Ex Toyota
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 3rd Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Jimmy Fallon
Why Jimmy Fallon?: Charismatic as all get out. This may be one of the comparisons that I actually stick to the game plan and compare Denny’s career to Jimmy’s SNL career. WARNING: This is only SNL Jimmy. Not killing the Tonight Show owning the SNL40 post party every celebrity’s best friend Jimmy. Both have the potential to be great. Always so close. Always so far. You like the guy, he’s good looking, but you aren’t sure how far you want to see him succeed. Plus when you need him to come in clutch he ends up cracking.
Why 8th Place?: Had a a hell of a 2014 and tough act to follow up. Last time he was that close to a Championship (2010) – he followed it up with a 9th place finish (2011). WHAT?! STATS?!
7. BRAD KESELOWSKI – #2 Miller Lite Ford
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 5th Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Dennis Miller
Why Dennis Miller?: A lot of people love Dennis Miller (and Brad). A lot of people thought Dennis Miller was really, really funny (Brad’s not that funny). A lot of people were/are/continue to be rubbed the wrong way by Dennis Miller (and Brad). Keselowski sure didn’t make any friends last year, and I don’t see any Edible Arrangements being sent his way anytime soon. If Brad is going to see victory lane this year, he is going to have Mario Kart his way there.
Why 7th Place?: He’s still really good. And while Brad has no friends in NASCAR, he doesn’t freaking care. He will have to take on the villain role this year – like he has any other choice.
6. DALE EARNHARDT JR. – #88 Nationwide Chevrolet
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 8th Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Jim Belushi/Eddie Murphy
Why Jim Belushi?: Well.. Jim Belushi because what a tough act to follow. Now listen, this is in no way comparing their talents to each other. I mean Dale just crossed the finish line as I type this to win his 15th time at Daytona. While Jim is still texting SNL groupies to come over to his apartment while striking out. But both had huge shoes to fill. Dale Sr. = THE GREATEST OF ALL-TIME / John Belushi = FUNNIEST THERE EVER WAS. So yeah – the same, jerks.
Why Eddie Murphy?: They are freaking rockstars. Both of em. Eddie was a bonafide movie star while still an SNL cast member while any time Dale wins a race they have to call in the Coast Guard to make sure the race track doesn’t burn to the ground. Now while as far as careers goes, Dale is probably somewhere in between Jim Belushi and Eddie Murphy, he’s inching closer and closer to Eddie as long as he doesn’t end up in a Dr. Doolittle 5 anytime soon.
Why Dale Jr. got two SNL cast members?: He’s Dale Jr.
Why 6th Place?: I want to believe. Just can’t do it. Last year was the year. Steve Letarte’s last ride – it was meant to be. It wasn’t meant to be. It took awhile for Dale to get use to his new crew chief, I don’t see it being a different story this time around.
5. MATT KENSETH – #20 Dollar General Toyota
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 7th Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Bill Hader
Why Bill Hader?: Another Bill, of the Murray ancestry recently said that Bill Hader is secretly the greatest SNL cast member of all-time. I can’t fully agree with that, but fuck (that’s the first one by the way) I could see it. I love Bill Hader. Unfortunately you would probably give Hader one of those Best All-Around driver awards. It’s not quite the MVP because we are giving that to the good looking kid who hits the game winners and wears the flashy shoes. But you are still the Best All-Around. That’s Bill Hader. That’s Matt Kenseth. If it wasn’t for this silly/amazing Race For The Chase thing Matt Kenseth could probably be the best driver of this era. But that isn’t the case. So hey Matt, congrats on your Best All-Around ribbon.
Why 5th Place?: Because I still don’t think Kenseth has still figured out his whole Chase thing. I mean it’s really not that hard to figure out right, just win. Which he will, a lot – during the season. THAT’S NOT WHERE IT COUNTS THOUGH BROTHER!
FIRST TEAM – The Best Of The Best
4. KEVIN HARVICK – #4 Budweiser Chevrolet
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 1st Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Dan Akroyd
Why Dan Akroyd?: Old school. Not the movie. But the style. Kevin Harvick is an old school, no non-sense, get the job done, get out of the way guy. I once heard that Dan Akroyd punched out all the ceiling tiles while interrogating the entire 8th floor looking for his drugs. Oh and he’s an old school guy, all business type of guy. One of the best. Harvick has always been there. Never quite there, but finally got there. 2014 was his Blues Brothers. It finally put him up there with the best of the best.
Why 4th Place?: It’s tough to go back-to-back. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks.
3. JOEY LOGANO – #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 4th Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Fred Armisen
Why Fred Armisen?: Sneaky great. Fred was always right there. You weren’t sure how or why, but he was right there crushing each and every sketch he was in. You didn’t expect it, but he did it. Whether you liked it or not. Joey Logano is kind of just there. And he kind of just keeps getting in the mix and crushing. Hell of a 2014 with no signs of slowing down in 2015. Armisen sure didn’t slow down after SNL. I had to find some sort of other comparison there. Didn’t feel comfortable ending it there. Also the answer to how hasn’t he slowed down is What is Portlandia?
Why 3rd Place?: He’s good. Really good. Still young and good. He’s still feeling this hiccup at Homestead last year. But he’s going to need a hiccup from these next two guys to win his first championship.
2. JIMMIE JOHNSON – #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 11th Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Will Ferrell
Why Will Ferrell?: The greatest of this generation. We will have to wait hopefully a dozen more years and a handful more championships to rank JJ all-time. But it is safe to say he is the best of our generation, just like Will Ferrell. Just as Will Ferrell had hit after hit after hit – Celebrity Jeopardy, Spartan Cheerleader, Mandatory Drug Assembly. Jimmie Johnson had/has/will have Championship run after Championship run. You cannot ever count these two guys out. Still today, you never know when and where they will show up and remind you and everyone else that you are a mere mortal.
Why 2nd Place?: There’s no doubt he and Chad have figured out this Chase format. There’s just no way the Gods will allow him to rain on the parade of the man who made him (too far).
1. JEFF GORDON – #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet
Finish In Last Year’s Chase: 6th Place
Saturday Night Live Cast Member: Bill Murray
Why Bill Murray?: Who doesn’t love Bill Murray? Who doesn’t love Jeff Gordon? Well me for instance back when I was young dumb and full of – yeah. Both may not go down as the titular greatest of all-time. Both will be in the conversation. Bill Murray and Jeff Gordon are those guys you take for granted. You can’t imagine your life without them. You are floored by their greatness but you also forget sometimes just how great they are. Until Bill Murray comes out as Nick Ocean and sings the Jaws Theme Song. Or until 42 year old Jeff Gordon goes all Tyson on Keselowki and starts a street brawl after a race. You love these guys. You miss these guys. You don’t know what you will do without these guys. And you really don’t wanna think about it at all.
Why 1st Place?: Now watch me bring this thing full circle. Tina Fey put it best at SNL40 during Weekend Update when she said, “What are they going to do, fire us?” That is going to be Jeff’s attitude all year long. Kevin Harvick may have been the the fastest car all year long last year, but Jeff was 1b. Dude was bad fast. And there is nothing you can put in his way that he won’t go Dale Sr./Cole Trickle/Ricky Bobby on your ass to get that checkered flag. Jeff Gordon is going all out this year. He’s got nothing to lose, and only that alluring Chase Championship to win. And that’s all that matters.
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P.S. *Jon Lovitz is still alive.