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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Here they are ... the 2010 Chase predictions

Few things are certain when each new year begins in NASCAR.
It’s a safe bet everyone will be talking about Dale Earnhardt Jr., there are usually some rules changes that have taken place in the offseason, and, most importantly, we know that 12 drivers will make the Chase for the Sprint Cup come September.

The question, then, is which drivers will make up the group of title contenders when we get to the last 10 races in 2010.

Fear not, because I have consulted my third eye and come up with the list of who will be a winner and who will be on the outside looking in when the checkered flag drops at Richmond.

Jimmie Johnson
This is pretty obvious. This guy could be blindfolded and probably still get into the Chase with his crew chief Chad Knaus guiding him through the turns. The way I see it, if he can win 4 Sprint Cup titles in a row, why not 5? You can bet on this one, though it probably won’t pay very much.

Mark Martin
Don’t be confused by the “old man” look Mark Martin is sporting. He can still kick these young guys’ butts. After scoring 5 wins, 7 poles and 14 top-5 finishes in 2009, Martin proved he was just as impressive as he was the other times he almost won the championship. I look forward to seeing him try once again to dethrone Jimmie Johnson, and he may be the one who can do it.

Tony Stewart
One world describes Stewart’s 2009 season: Overachiever. With a new team, a role as co-owner and lots of focus on him from the media and fans, it would have been very easy for him to struggle. But he didn’t, instead getting both of his team’s cars into the Chase and winning a handful of races (including the All-Star race). I don’t see that changing in 2010. Look for Smoke to continue to run up front each week and contend for a third title. After that awesome first year with the new team, the sky’s the limit.

Kyle Busch
Remember this guy? He’s the one who won a ton of races last year across the top 3 NASCAR series, yet still missed the Chase somehow. It won’t happen, again. Kyle Busch is a pure racer, and can win in any series. If he doesn’t wreck every week or have his car fall apart all the time, he’ll qualify for the Chase and mount a legitimate battle for the championship.

Kurt Busch
Leading the lone Dodge team in Cup, Penske Racing, will be Kurt Busch, and he is ready after a great 2009 where he finished fourth, the best non-Hendrick finish last year. With the reputation of the brand on his shoulders, Penske will do what it takes to make sure his cars are good this year, and with info-gathering help from teammates Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish, Jr., Busch will be able to compete for wins on a regular basis, and will make the Chase.

Carl Edwards
Here’s another blast from the past. Remember the guy who won 9 races in 2008, then got a big gooseegg in 2009 (along with no poles and only 7 top-5 finishes). That’s Carl Edwards, and he will bounce back in 2010. He is too talented to not win races and fight for the big trophy. I see backflips in his future.

Juan Pablo Montoya
Last year’s breakthrough was no joke. Montoya will win again in 2010. The man has won in every series he has entered, and NASCAR is no exception. When you’re talented, you are talented, and it will shine through if you give it enough time. I see him getting better this year, and winning at least once.

Jeff Gordon
Gordon has four titles, and is now racing his superstar teammate Johnson for the right to say they have earned five. While Gordon still has the skills to race and should do well, I see Johnson doing it before Gordon. But the fact he can still make the Chase after almost 20 years in the sport is very impressive.

Joey Logano
After a very rough Speedweeks 2009, the phenom once dubbed “sliced bread” (as in greatest thing since …) went on to constant improvement in 2009, including a win. Joey Logano will finally live up to his nickname will live up to his nickname in 2010. He is a quick study, and won’t repeat the errors that plagued his early season of 2009. In year #2 in Cup, this teenager will crash the Chase party.

Ryan Newman
Some people questioned his decision to leave Penske Racing after 2008 and go drive for Stewart-Haas Racing. The joke’s on us, as he was able to adjust to the new team quickly and make the chase in 2009. He’ll do the same in 2010, probably finishing even higher than last year.

Denny Hamlin
Everyone wants to proclaim Hamlin the favorite to topple Johnson. I disagree with an endorsement that extreme, but he will be driven to succeed. One snag is his torn ACL, which could derail his hopes for a title.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
I know he was horrible in 2009, to the point where he finished 25th in the points.
But things will change for Jr. in 2010.
Why? Because he has to finish better. If you don’t even race up front, while your teammates are 1-2-3 in points for the year, then you become a source of laughter.
This may be the year we finally find out what kind of driver Jr. really is.
Can he step up and make the Chase? I think so, and hope so, as Jr. making the Chase is a good thing for the sport.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just another Earnhardt lover with blinders on. Jr will never be his daddy so people need to get over it; you could secretly put Kerry Earnhardt behind the wheel and no one would even notice. Jr stinks as a race car driver. Sorry but the facts speak for themselves.

February 4, 2010 at 11:52 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Denny WILL be the champ in 2010. Book it son.

February 4, 2010 at 5:31 PM 
Anonymous austin rivers said...

I think Jimmy Johnson will add to his trophy collection, but Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart have the talent to overcome him if he slips or runs into some bad luck.

February 5, 2010 at 11:35 AM 

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