Wheeler Picks Carl Edwards To Win Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race
Even though some race fans may think he's finally "flipped," H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler named Carl Edwards as his pick to win Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Wheeler revealed his selection today in uptown Charlotte with assistance from a pack of four-legged friends, including Princess, the back-flipping dog.
"Carl Edwards is a racer's racer in the mold of Dale Earnhardt and Cale Yarborough," said Wheeler. "He will put his car in places angels fear to tread and beneath that big smile and his trademark back flip, Carl has an abnormal fire in his heart to win that I have seldom seen.
"A lot of guys race to get on that New York stage and are satisfied with third, fourth or even worse, but not him," Wheeler added. "Vince Lombardi is surely looking down and saying he would have loved to have had Carl on his team."
Known for his promotional flair and Karnac-type ability, Wheeler, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, has correctly picked the winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race 10 times in the past 19 races.
While Edwards' burning determination was key in Wheeler's decision, it was the early season performance of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford that proved to be the determining factor.
"Carl ran really well at Atlanta, Vegas and Texas, which are similar to Charlotte Motor Speedway," Wheeler noted. "He's one of the few who has been able to ride this wild bull of a new car that has been difficult to tame on the intermediate tracks.
"He is also not at all adverse to combat conditions with other drivers, and that is often what the Sprint All-Star Race is all about."
"I know Humpy's history of picking winners for the All-Star race and it's an honor that he picked me," said Edwards. "He picked me one time before (2006) and we didn't come through. So he's got some real guts to pick us again. I hope we can prove him right this time.
"Humpy's a real wise man. There is a little bit of extra pressure now, because I know if I mess up he's gonna come and grab me on the shoulder, and shake me a little bit. We'll get it done for him."
In preparation for making his selection, Wheeler analyzed early season race results and studied NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His final decision came down to a choice between Edwards and Kyle Busch.
"Kyle Busch has astonished us all this season and, if not for Carl's performances at the other 1.5-mile tracks in the new car, he would have been my pick," Wheeler noted. "Kyle got some hard raps over what happened at Richmond. Everybody wanted to see Dale Jr. break his drought, but how many drivers have you seen lately that would take a car that was a tick slower, with second in the bag, and try to pass the leader? Kyle Busch did what every race fan buys a ticket for, and that is to see two guys fight it out for the victory in the closing laps."
With no points on the line and a $1 million prize for the winner, Wheeler has visions of the ultimate finish to Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
"Imagine what that grandstand would be like on the last lap if Busch and Edwards come off Turn 4 side-by-side with Dale Jr. lurking right off their rear bumpers," Wheeler said with a big smile.
Each year since 1994, Wheeler has also named a dark-horse selection who he thinks could pull off a surprise victory. This time he's going with Tony Stewart to fill that role.
"Tough season for a great driver, but, obviously, Tony still has it and he can smell the big money," Wheeler concluded.
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Week activities start Thursday with the Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman at Time Warner Cable Arena. The finishing order of the Pit Crew Challenge will determine the order in which teams will select their pit stalls for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
On-track activities kick off Friday evening with qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the Sprint Showdown. In addition to qualifying, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will compete in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 presented by Circle K. Tickets start at $20.
Good seats, in various price ranges, are still available for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and include the 3 Doors Down pre-race concert. Tickets start at $40 and may be obtained by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online.
"Humpy" Wheeler's Pick the Winner Results
Year Selection (Finish) Dark Horse- Winner
1989 Rusty Wallace (1) Rusty Wallace
1990 Dale Earnhardt (1) Dale Earnhardt
1991 Davey Allison (1) Davey Allison
1992 Davey Allison (1) Alan Kulwicki Davey Allison
1993 Dale Earnhardt (1) Dale Earnhardt
1994 Ernie Irvan (15) Geoff Bodine Geoff Bodine
1995 Jeff Gordon (1) Dale Earnhardt Jeff Gordon
1996 Rusty Wallace (2) Jeff Gordon Michael Waltrip
1997 Dale Earnhardt (4) Dale Jarrett Jeff Gordon
1998 Rusty Wallace (5) Jeff Gordon Mark Martin
1999 Jeff Gordon (3) Jeremy Mayfield Terry Labonte
2000 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1) Terry Labonte Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2001 Dale Jarrett (2) Steve Park Jeff Gordon
2002 Jeff Gordon (11) Jimmie Johnson Ryan Newman
2003 Jimmie Johnson (1) Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jimmie Johnson
2004 Jeff Gordon (6) Jimmie Johnson Matt Kenseth
2005 Jeff Gordon (4) M. Martin/R. Wallace Mark Martin
2006 Carl Edwards (4) Kasey Kahne Jimmie Johnson
2007 Jimmie Johnson Mark Martin Kevin Harvick
2008 Carl Edwards Tony Stewart