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Friday, September 16, 2011

CHASE PREDICTION: Kyle Busch will nip Jimmie Johnson to snag 2011 Cup title

The Chase has arrived, and now I must do my annual swami act and tell you all how things will go. Who's hot, who's not, and who's going to just hang around the middle? Read on to find out.

Kyle Busch will end his run of bad run in the Chase and topple Jimmie Johnson for the crown. The rumors are true; he is a more mature driver, despite an occasional return to Old Kyle Busch form, and the undeniable fact is that Kyle is just damn fast. he's a true talent, and barring mechanical issues he should be able to take his Gibbs car to the head table at the banquet, and win a few Chase races along the way.

2. Jimmie Johnson
It won't be easy for Kyle. Jimmie Johnson will do his best to win a sixth straight title -- a feat that would be absolutely nuts if it did happen. I predict Jimmie leads going into Homestead, but Kyle beats him out in an awesome duel for the ages. Or at least I hope that's what happens for the fans' sake. It is a distinct possibility, due to the unpredictable nature of this season in NASCAR, and he should take at least 2 wins in the Chase.

3. Carl Edwards
At one point, he may have been the favorite to win the title; but Carl has lost some of the buzz he had earlier this season. Still, he's steady and strong, and the leader of the Roush brigade and their best shot to win the title. Look for him to take a couple Chase checkered flags.

4. Jeff Gordon
If you're talking about momentum, this guy's got it by the boatload. Gordon has found the fountain of youth, and has the goods to battle up front each week and almost claim a fifth title -- but he'll fall shy a few spots back.

5. Kevin Harvick
With so much swirling around him and the ending of his KHI team in the lower series (not to mention rumors of a divorce, which he and Delana adamantly deny), Harvick just wants to get to racing and put all the drama behind him. Fresh off a win, he'll have to be very consistent to compete for the title in the Chase, and I don't know if he is quite at the level where he will do that.

6. Denny Hamlin
His year hasn't been great, but he should come alive in the Chase ... just not alive enough to be a major factor up top.

7. Matt Kenseth
He's traditionally been Mr. Consistent; but the lack of contending for wins on a regular basis will hurt him in the Chase. He won't be a Chase backmarker, but keeping up with Kyle and Jimmie and the other top drivers will be a chore that Kenseth may not be able to accomplish.

8. Brad Keselowski
I really like Brad as a driver, and he's on a tear lately racking up wins and top 10s, but a hot streak like that has to come to an end at some point, and I don't see him contending this year for a title (but I hope I'm wrong, as he would be a great surprise champ.)

9. Tony Stewart
Hasn't had a great year. Barely made the Chase ... Don't expect much from Smoke.

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Good news is that Jr. made the Chase for the first time in a few years. Bad news is that unless he can start running better than 16th each week (a highly unlikely thing), there is almost no shot he competes for a title.

11. Kurt Busch
I was going to write a whole blog about what an ass Kurt has been lately, with his antics against reporters and genuinely annoying whining on the radio during races, but I figured it wasn't worth my time. Instead, I'll just say here that his attitude is toxic, he's likely jealous of his teammate's success this past month, and Kurt's mindset is so fragmented right now that there is no way he will be a front-runner during the Chase, especially if he continues his silly head games with Jimmie (FYI Kurt, that doesn't work on 5-time; look what happened to Denny after he and Ford talked smack to Jimmie before Homestead last year.)

12. Ryan Newman
He's not consistent enough to do anything of note. Call him an also-ran.

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