Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Chasees and the Chasers ... and New Hampshire

Here's a quick breakdown of the Chase drivers, the final 12 who are eligible to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup title in these final 10 races, starting today at New Hampshire.

1. Jimmie Johnson: He's the king until he's unkinged, and has to be the favorite, even though he's struggled a bit lately.
2. Denny Hamlin: He's getting on a roll at the right time and starts with the lead due to his six wins.
3. Kevin Harvick: He won the regular season points and has been consistent this year. However, top 10s just won't getting it done when it comes to winning the Chase. He needs top five and at least two victories.
4. Tony Stewart: He had the victory in Atlanta, but hasn't had his normal hot streak, so he's got a real chance.
5. Carl Edwards: Whether you like him or not, the combination of the driver and team are too good to not win a race. They've been getting closer lately, too.
6. Kyle Busch: He's capable of winning two or three in a row at any point. Also capable of a finishing 30th or worse in a couple of races. Talladega could be key race for him.
7. Jeff Gordon: If he wants to break his winless streak, now would be a good time. He's actually a bit of an underdog here.
8. Kurt Busch: Has a bit of chip on his shoulder after getting penalized 15 minutes of practice time for having a set of extra tires. That chip just might be what he needs.
9. Clint Bowyer: A good qualifying run at New Hampshire helps him. Clean air means a lot in these cars and he needs to get off to a good start to have a chance.
10. Greg Biffle: Did get an elusive win at Pocono and also capable of getting hot at any time.
11. Matt Kenseth: Maybe the quietest Chase entry. He needs to show that he can win to have a chance.
12. JefF Burton: An underrated driver who has a knack for showing up in the top five at end of races. So, don't count him out.
My pick to win the whole thing ... Denny Hamlin, to unseat Johnson.

My top five for New Hampshire:
1. Tony Stewart: Has always been fast there.
2. Denny Hamlin: Can't ignore a guy on a hot streak.
3. Jimmie Johnson: Yes, they were off in qualifying, starting 25th, but he'll be there in the end.
4. Carl Edwards: First win this year will come soon.
5. Juan Pablo Montoya: Just because you're not in the chase, doesn't mean you can't win a race.

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