Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Predictions: Who's going to be 2010's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series breakout star?

Its 2010 and with the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway just 30 days away (February 6th), it’s time for a new series of articles called “Predictions” that will focus on you guessed it, predictions for the upcoming 2010 NASCAR season.

Over at “From the Marbles, A NASCAR Blog”, the writer Jay asks a question to his readers, “Who's going to be 2010's breakout star?” So in this edition of predictions, I will answer that very question as we will discuss the upcoming 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with breakout stars.

In 2009, the breakout star had to be the former IRL, CART and Formula 1 driver Juan Montoya. Montoya shocked a lot of people including me when he made the chase, was a contender for the Cup Series Championship for a lot of the chase and was on the verge of winning the Brickyard 400 if it wasn’t for a pit stop speeding penalty as well as almost winning at New Hampshire last September. I would expect to see Montoya come out of the game as a contender in 2010 as he leads Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing into the new series.

So who will be the 2010 breakout star? The answer depends upon who you ask, however using numbers and logic, here is the top 3.

1. The 2009 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year Joey Logano. Despite being moved up to the Cup Series one year early, Logano showed a lot of talent throughout the 2009 season including a surprise victory at New Hampshire last June which I attended. Logano ended up finishing 20th in Cup Series points.

2. 2009 saw many surprise victories and one of the biggest victories had to at Talladega in the Aaron’s 499 with Brad Keselowski driving the #09 into victory lane. Keselowski showed a lot of talent not only the Cup Series with running up front driving both for Hendick and the #09 in Cup, but finished 3rd in points in the Nationwide Series and was a contender all season long for the championship. Not to mention, he is fun to watch in both series.

Of course this prediction all centers around Roger Penske and Penske Racing getting on their game. NASCAR is a team sport and the #12 needs to get on its game, because they have a good talented driver, but without Penske as a whole coming together, it’s not going to do them any good.

3. 2009 was the first full season for road course driver turned oval driver Marcos Ambrose. Ambrose ended up with 4 top 5’s and 7 top 10’s including a third place finish in the Sharpie 500. JTG Daugherty Racing with MWR alliance has the #47 running well, Ambrose is a driver to watch for sure in 2010.

However there are two drivers that I hadn’t mentioned that some would say should be on this list, one being David Reutimann and the two being Jamie McMurray. I honestly didn’t put David Reutimann up because he is already here, he’s a contender, he’s just one that is quietly learning the COT and running up front, he is a one to watching in 2010.

As for Jamie McMurray, I realize that McMurray is in a new ride over at EGR, but I really don’t see that making a giant different in 2010, especially considering their veteran driver if you will is Juan Montoya. It seems to take McMurray a while to get adapted to a new ride, sometime more than a season.

Well that’s my take everybody, now it’s your turn, who do you think is going to be the 2010 NASCAR Cup Series breakout driver?

Related articles:

1. Part 3 -- Predictions: RaceDriven.com picks Mark Martin to win the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.
2. Part 2 -- Predictions: Top 6 biggest NASCAR storylines to watch in 2010.
3. Top 3 most memorable NASCAR experiences