February feels like such a long time ago. More like nine years ago than nine months ago. Back before the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season started, I prompted the fine citizens of Twitter to call their shot early: which four drivers would make up the Championship 4?
Time capsule, to be unearthed November 3, 2020:
Which four drivers will make up the 2020 #NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4?
— Steve Luvender (@steveluvender) February 13, 2020
Of course, nobody could really have predicted all the madness that would unfold in this unpredictable year — on and off the track. And, if they could predict it and didn‘t warn us, then, well, that‘s just not cool.
For instance, who would have guessed defending champion Kyle Busch would struggle to repeat his 2019 success and face an early elimination? What reasonable person could have foreseen an untimely Kevin Harvick collapse in the playoffs? Who would have imagined Cole Custer would be the newest first-time winner in the Cup Series? (OK, that was me, and I haven‘t stopped bragging about it since Custer won at Kentucky in July.)
Still, surely somebody could have defied all the odds and picked the Championship 4 before everything went all topsy-turvy, right? Before we raced three times at Darlington and added the Daytona Road Course to the schedule? Prior to the time where Denny Hamlin was merely a two-time Daytona 500 champion and wasn‘t planning to team up with Michael Jordan?
OMG, someone did it
Turns out the answer is yes. Twitter was right.
Well, one Twitter user was right: @MarkRH was the only respondent who, on February 13, 2020, guessed the Championship 4 would come down to Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Denny Hamlin.
9, 2, 22, 11
— MarkRH (@MarkRH) February 13, 2020
Like 2020 itself, it‘s simply unbelievable.
Let‘s all offer a hearty congratulations to @MarkRH (from at least six feet), who somehow pulled off what even our own fantasy experts couldn‘t guess.
The Wall of Shame
Of course, accountability goes both ways. We can laud @MarkRH, who was nothing short of prophetic, but we also have to make fun of the guesses that were so bad that all four of their Championship 4 predictions were wrong.
For these 17, thank you for participating, and may you have better luck next season.
Blaney, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick https://t.co/V9lFgX8vUB
— Nathan Lee (@n_lee88) February 13, 2020
— Jackie Helton (@JackieLHelton) February 13, 2020
Ryan Blaney. Kyle Busch. Truex. Johnson.(🤯)
— Matt2Harrington (@Matt2Harrington) February 13, 2020
4, 18, 41, 48
— Al (@berubay) February 13, 2020
18 19 4 47
— Toasty (@Matt_Toasty) February 13, 2020
Harvick Truex Larson Johnson
— lj tolito ⛄🏁 (@LJTolito11) February 13, 2020
— Spannerhead (@spannerhead29) February 16, 2020
— Jason D (@JasonD2k14) February 13, 2020
Byron Larson Blaney Ky Busch
— Brian Ruether #ByronNation (@24ByronNation) February 14, 2020
Martin Truex Jr
— Bruhbba Wallace 🏁🇺🇸 (@LeftTurnMan) February 13, 2020
— Tim Muff (@TimMuff) February 13, 2020
Kyle Busch, MTJ, Larson, Harvick
— Jesse (@Bleichjesse) February 13, 2020
— Chase Alvey (@AlveyChase) February 13, 2020
Martin Truex Jr
— King Dan (@king_Dan27) February 13, 2020
18 A given
42 Defeats the round of 8
20 Best season to date
12 Win and In
— Derek Newsome (@DNewsomeRacing) February 13, 2020
— nihilist (@CKTheFlyingScot) February 13, 2020
— Hunter (@tigers2k20) February 13, 2020
And a few tweets more
What‘s Twitter without a little fun? I‘ve got to pick on a few specific responses back in February.
18, 4, 11, 19 – boring, but predictable. https://t.co/dpmjRrwvgI
— Jeremy Waterbury (@Lvingrmwarwagon) February 13, 2020
My friend, it turned out nothing was predictable or boring about 2020. Though, there may have been times were a little semblance of predictability would have been nice.
Matt Kenseth, Dale Jr, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon
— dwest – I Stand With Bubba (@dwest9cubs) February 13, 2020
The joke here was that all four picks are retired drivers but who would have guessed the full-time return of Matt Kenseth? Not me. 2020, man.
Anywhere between one and three winners in the Round of Eight and one and three people who got lucky on points.
— Ace Moneymaker ➐ (@AceMoneymaker06) February 13, 2020
Finally, I suppose there‘s technically a second correct response between one and three drivers won in the Round of 8, and at least one driver advanced on points. While we can‘t count this in the official record, I‘ll give a tip of the cap for finding a loophole. You‘d make a fine crew chief. (Or fast-thinking jackman.)
Thanks to everybody who played along! We‘ll do it again next year where, maybe, hopefully, things feel at least a little more predictable.