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Friedman takes the checkered

AHOSKIE – Tony Stewart, who?

NASCAR fans in the know check who David Friedman says will win.

The one-time football and soccer player and self-admitted guy who knew Rusty Wallace and the Miller Genuine Draft Dodge and nothing else proved even himself wrong.

Friedman led the final 12 races and survived a less-than-stellar finish by Tony Stewart in the last race of the 2005 season to be named the winner of the News-Herald Cup, this newspaper’s own weekly competition to pick the winner of each race.

Friedman, the News-Herald’s Circulation Manager, ended the 2005 campaign with 5,126 points, a mere 37 points ahead of NASCAR veteran prognosticator Cal Bryant who came home with 5,089 points thanks to a good pick in the final race when he selected Jeff Gordon. Bryant is the newspaper’s editor and former Sports Editor.

In fact, so good were Friedman’s selections that only one NASCAR driver would have had a higher point total under the pre-chase system.

&uot;Really, I was just hoping to beat the Editor, the Sports Editor, the syndicated NASCAR columnist and of course, my high school automotive teacher,&uot; Friedman said. &uot;To win it all was just a bonus.&uot;

Coming in third was first-time panelist Danny Johnson. The Electric Vehicle instructor at Northampton County High School – East checked in with 4,764 points.

The next group of gurus were all in the 4,500 range. Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Graphic Designer Lauren Morris (4,584) edged into fourth place in the final week thanks to her selection of favorite driver Rusty Wallace. Next was Pepsi Distributor Bruce Ramsey (4,569) followed by retired postal worker Tommy Overton (4,510).

Leading the bottom half of the pack was retired Commonwealth-Progress Editor Sylvia Hughes with 4,378 points. She edged News-Herald Publisher and syndicated NASCAR columnist Jeff Findley by five points.

Only seven points back from there was NAPA Auto Parts owner Terry Wilson with 4,366 points. Ridgecroft Headmaster and Gatesville Mayor Elton Winslow was next with 4,355 points.

Dragging up the rear of the field were News-Herald Composition Manager David Taylor II with 4,152 points and yours truly with 4,101.

The panelists will return again in February where they begin another season of fearless forecasting.