out his best Karnac impression yet, Lowe’s Motor Speedway President
and general manager H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler made his annual prediction
for the winner of the 2004 NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge on May
Wheeler’s pick this year: three-time Nextel All-Star Challenge race
winner Jeff Gordon.
“If ever there was a race that was made for a specific driver, it is
the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge and Jeff Gordon,” Wheeler said.
“He can drive a car smoothly with total reckless abandon. He can
drive deep or deeper into a corner than anybody out there.”
Wheeler has correctly picked the winner of the event nine times in
the last 15 races, including last year’s winner, Gordon’s Hendrick
Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.
“How do I predict the winner? I’m not sure,” Wheeler said. “One
thing I do is I pay attention to how they run on the mile-and-a-half
tracks. I look at how they test. I also look at other factors –
there’s a lot of psychological factors about this race that people
If Wheeler is correct, Gordon would become the first driver to win
the event four times.
“My record here is not as good as Humpy’s is at picking the winner,”
Gordon said. “I feel privileged you picked us this year. I
think we’re having a great year, and hopefully we’re going to make you a
winner along with us.”
Gordon’s last win in the all-star race was in 2002, when Gordon was
one of several drivers who crashed on the opening lap after rain
began to fall just as the green flag fell and ended up taking a
back-up car to victory lane.
“I’ve had a lot of spectacular things happen to me in the all-star
event”, Gordon said. “This race is always exciting, it’s always
brought out the best in the race teams and the drivers.”
Every year that Gordon has won the all-star event, he’s also gone on
to win the championship, putting added incentive on winning this
“I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence that it’s worked out that
way, but if you can run well here, you usually run well at most
places,” Gordon said. “I hope if we do win (the all-star race), that
it means something for the championship, but the way the points are
this season it’s hard to predict no matter how great your season is
going, and what races you’re winning, if you’re going to win that
The author can be contacted
to discuss this article