Sunday, September 12, 2010

NASCAR fans, here is your 2010 NASCAR Chase to the Sprint Cup contenders, but who will win?

Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

Ladies and gentlemen, last night at the famous ¾ mile short track, Richmond International Raceway played host to the final race to the chase race where NASCAR fans saw Denny Hamlin for the second year in a row dominate and win at his home racetrack and at the same time saw Clint Bowyer “race” his way into the chase while Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray and Mark Martin will sit this chase out.

But last night I couldn’t help but notice that Clint Bowyer was really making a statement throughout the race by going up and grabbing the lead several times during the race as well as the chase favorite Jimmie Johnson being up front most of the night. But chase contenders Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch didn’t find success.

Even more, there was really no drama in who was in and who was out of the chase unlike last years dramatic finish between Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch. However that of course didn’t stop ESPN (ABC) from talking about where each driver is seeded, who will be in the chase and of course who will be out. But I will say one thing, ESPN needs to stick to covering the race itself, that’s where the drama should be. If the race can’t produce the drama and hype, then what’s the point of racing at that speedway in the first place, the race is the show, not the chase.

Well ladies and gentlemen, here we go, 12 drivers, 10 races, 1 champion, so who is in and where?

1. 11-Denny Hamlin – 5060 (6 wins)
2. 48-Jimmie Johnson – 5050 (5 wins)
3. 29-Kevin Harvick – 5030 (3 wins)
4. 18-Kyle Busch – 5030 (3 wins)
5. 2-Kurt Busch – 5020 (2 wins)
6. 14-Tony Stewart – 5010 (1 win)
7. 16-Greg Biffle – 5010 (1 win)
8. Jeff Gordon – 5000 (no wins)
9. 99-Carl Edwards – 5000 (no wins)
10. 31-Jeff Burton – 5000 (no wins)
11. 17-Matt Kenseth – 5000 (no wins)
12. 33-Clint Bowyer – 5000 (no wins)

Predictions, normally at this time or after the first chase race namely New Hampshire, I would make bold predictions including what the final finishing order will be including who is going to win the championship. And yet year is no different.

The way I see it right now heading into the first chase race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (which sadly I will not be attending due to no money) is, I really only see 6 drivers as real championship contenders right now. I mean come on, some drivers just struggled to get into the top 12, while others.

So with that said I believe that Jimmie Johnson is the favorite going in and my pick to win his fifth straight Sprint Cup Championship (which would be great for the sport), along with Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin as the wild card.

Now I see Kevin Harvick as a strong contender for the title as well as Kyle Busch, each driver has run well all season long. But at the same time I have a question mark on Denny Hamlin, his consistency is questionable especially with JGR engines.

As for the rest, namely Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, they all don’t show the consistency or speed to be a real championship contender for the entire 10-race chase.

I realize that that is very bold to say, but look at the stats, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer got in by the skin of their teeth and I really don’t think too much of 11th and 12th coming into the chase anyway. Its like rewarding drivers for medocre performances.

As for Jeff Gordon, half of the time can’t get his car to handle and run fast, but for some reason seems to squeak out a decent finish, but decent doesn’t win championships. Jeff Burton is there, but isn’t and I really haven’t seen Matt Kenseth all season long, he just seems to appear at just the right moment for a decent finish.

Bottom line, we have a six-driver chase for the Sprint Cup and it should be interesting to watch especially Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin (if Hamlin can get running right) with 3 races to go in the chase.

And congrats to Richard Childress Racing for getting all three cars into the chase, that’s huge in itself. RCR has turned the entire operation, no let’s see if Kevin Harvick, RCR’s best chance get win the championship for RCR, I wouldn’t beat against him.