Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Who are the top 5 Heroes, Villains, and Underdogs in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series?

Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, the theme today is an interesting and after the current events two weeks ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Kobalt Tools 500 with Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, I thought that this was the right time for this article.

It’s who in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a Hero, a Villain or an Underdog? I got the concept for this article after watching one of my favorite reality shows Survivor. Right now Survivor is on its 20th season and the theme is Heroes vs. Villains and even though the Villains are winning right now, I’m thinking it will come down to a Hero vs. a Villain.

So that brings us back to this article, who is the Cup Series are the top 5 Heroes, Villains and Underdogs? I really thought about this list. I read blogs, forums, NASCAR sites and listened to what the fans and media were saying and while I’m sure that most drivers on this list will come as no surprise to anyone, some will earn a second look for sure.

The Heroes of the Cup Series:

Each driver has their own way of doing something, but in NASCAR on-track, it’s all about respect and what the fans think of you.

1. Mark Martin is most likely the most respected driver in NASCAR today.
2. Jeff Burton is the unofficial mayor of the garage area.
3. Jimmie Johnson is four-time Cup Series champion with 50 wins. He races people clean and he’s just that damn good.
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the NASCAR’s most popular driver by far.
5. Kasey Kahne, the quiet driver that makes his moves at just the right spot.

Villains:

1. Kurt Busch, the driver that really has tried to clean up his image, but still acts nothing like a Cup Series champion should on the race track.
2. Kyle Busch, is simply put, NASCAR’s bad boy and he’s proud of period. But I will give the guy credit, he can drive.
3. Denny Hamlin, I don’t know what to say about Denny Hamlin, he’s the veteran driver that acts like a rookie. He has a problem with several drivers and half the time even I don’t know why.
4. Juan Montoya, just watch his driver, your figure it out why. He drives a lot like Kyle Busch and when something happens, he says “Get over it.”
5. Brian Vickers, I have no idea why he’s in the series, but he really can’t drive. His first victory came at Talladega years ago after he wrecked his teammate Jimmie Johnson and the former DEI driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Am I missing something with Vickers? Anybody?

Underdogs and ones to watch:

1. David Reutimann, one of the most quietest drivers and unrated in years.
2. Joey Logano, the upstart rookie that has a lot of talent and this 19 year old is one to watch every week. And after 5 race in 2010, is the best Joe Gibbs Racing driver in the JGR stable by far and the most talented.
3. Marcos Ambrose, the Austrailian V8 supercar champion turned NASCAR driver. There is more to Ambrose then just the label road course driver.
4. A.J. Allmendinger, despite a few areas and mistakes, A.J. can drive and win the NASCAR. He had several wins in the former Champ Car series and now drives for RPM.
5. Brad Keselowski, Brad has a big future NASCAR, is very talents and will win races and championship before too long in the Cup Series once he gives a little on=track to his competitors.

The concept of rating each driver especially into one of in this case three categories is nothing new, the media and fans have been doing it for years, so has NASCAR. So when I started to think of this article and look at the cast of drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to choose from, it became apparent that there would be a few drivers that automatically fit one category by majority vote and others that didn’t fit any.

Take Hamlin, and the Busch brothers, it was easy for me to choose them for the Villains category because they are and most fans know it, none of them get it and when it doesn’t go their way, they loss it period.

While Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, and Jimmie Johnson were easy picks for the Heroes category. They are well respected drivers on and off-track, the other competitors look up to them and they are winners in my book among others.

Now some drivers didn’t make the list because I was only picking 5 per category or they just didn’t fit a particular category. Take Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards, they are not Villains although they do act unique, there not Heroes nor underdogs, but Carl Edwards if he keeps it up, may just past Vickers on the Villains list, however that would take some time. As for Jeff Gordon, he would have been 10th on the villains list and for sure Robby Gordon would have been 6th if I was counting 6.

If you created a list like this, who would be in your three categories and did I miss somebody? Do keep in mind that I’m a Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart fan plus Mark Martin is my sentimental favorite. However I’m not a fan of Denny Hamlin, Kyle or Kurt Busch, none of them get it and when it doesn’t go their way, they loss it period.

Any thoughts and/or surprises?