Dinger unleashed: Chase prediction

AJ Allmendinger

Every other Wednesday, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota, writes a column for Yahoo! Sports. He finished 43rd at Richmond.

Tuesdays are kind of boring for me. That feeling when you're not into it? I get that on Tuesday.

I don't mind Mondays because I go to the gym, play basketball, get the juices flowing. But then Tuesday I wake up early (for me, though for most normal people it's actual work time) and go the shop for a competition meeting.

I sound like a whiny bitch right now, but Tuesdays are like my Mondays. So I guess I got a case of the Tuesdays.

Sunday at Richmond wasn't a whole lot of fun. We don't know what happened, but the motor quit on us for some reason. My team fixed the problem and the motor ran fine, but when I went back on the track I was 65 laps down.

About Lap 250, I was pretty silent on the radio, because there wasn't much good to say. My crew came on the radio try to pick me up a bit. They told me the Jets and my man crush Brett Favre were winning. I told them it didn't help, but I got to be honest – it did a little.

As far as my contract situation for next year, there's no new news. Hopefully I'll know something next week. But not knowing anything is hard. It's stressful.

You know, I just want an answer. Am I going to be back with Red Bull next year, yes or no? Of course I'd like it to be yes and they'd like me to stay and we have a great rest of the season and prepare for 2009.

I love everybody at the shop and it's hard because they're asking me questions. They want to know what's up, and I don't have an answer for them. I mean, I really don't have an answer.

I've had conversations with other teams since August – and there were some good rides available – but I truly believe we have something here with Red Bull, so I don't want to leave.

We've been through a lot together as a team and I've been through a lot just to learn. I've had people tell me, 'You suck. You shouldn't be here,' and I've had other people say, 'Keep working. We know you got the talent.' And I've fought through all that and in my opinion I think I deserve to be in the car.

But right now, realistically, I think it's about 50-50 at best that I'll be back at Red Bull next year.

Now the Chase begins and I do have a prediction.

If you'd have asked me three or four weeks ago, I would have obviously picked either Kyle Busch or Carl Edwards. And they're still right there.

But the more I learn and the more I study this sport and try to find what makes some of these guys so good, the more I learn about Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus and how good they are.

They are so good they know they can use, say, from Race No. 8 through Race No. 24 as a test session. Their stuff is good enough to run inside the top 10, maybe throw in a win here or there, but mostly they use those four months testing, knowing they're going to make the Chase.

And when it's time – it's like the Boston Red Sox right now – the season is so long, they can say, 'Alright, we'll try this; we'll try that.' And the next thing you know, two races to go before the Chase, they say, 'Now let's put the stuff we've learned in the car,' and, boom, they become unstoppable.

It'll be between Kyle, Carl and Jimmie, but in my opinion Johnson and his team are just so good that it's go time and they're gone.

I'm off to play with my dog.