Well ladies and gentlemen, here we go, 12 drivers, 10 races, 1 champion, so who’s in, where do they sit heading into the first chase race at Chicagoland Speedway this Sunday and who’s really a contender?
1. Kyle Busch – 2012 (4 wins)
2. Kevin Harvick - 2012 (4 wins)
3. Jeff Gordon - 2009 (3 wins)
4. Matt Kenseth - 2006 (2 wins)
5. Carl Edwards - 2003 (1 win)
6. Jimmie Johnson – 2003 (1 win)
7. Kurt Busch - 2003 (1 win)
8. Ryan Newman – 2003 (1 win)
9. Tony Stewart - 2000 (0 wins)
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 2000 (0 wins)
11. Brad Keselowski – 2000 (0 wins)
12. Denny Hamlin – 2000 (0 wins)
Predictions, normally at this time or after the first chase race namely Chicago, 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 as NASCAR heads into the first chase race at Chicagoland Speedway, 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 who are the real contenders? Well, I’m going to divide the top 12 into 3 categories.
Category #1: Top Contenders and one’s to watch.
1. Jimmie Johnson.
2. Kevin Harvick.
3. Carl Edwards.
4. Jeff Gordon.
Category #2: Dark horses or teams that isn’t as consistent as they should be.
5. Kyle Busch.
6. Matt Kenseth.
7. Brad Keselowski. The only reason Brad K. is in this category is he is a dark horse and he has used a lot of luck within the last month to make the chase, but personally I hope he does win the Cup Series Championship this season, that would be incredible.
Category #3: I just plain don’t see these drivers winning the championship as they all just struggled to make the chase. Anyway way you look at it, finishing outside the top 10 every week isn’t going to win you a championship and these drivers simply don’t have the good finishes to win a championship. But stranger things have happened.
8. Ryan Newman
9. Kurt Busch.
10. Tony Stewart
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - And I’m a member of JR Nation, but while he has good cars and a strong team, they can’t seem to get in position at the end of the race and do something with it to finish inside the top 5 or win the race.
12. Denny Hamlin
So with that said I believe that Jimmie Johnson is the favorite going in, but my pick is Brad Keselowski to win his first Sprint Cup Championship (which would be great for the sport in its own right), along with Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, and Kyle Busch being in the mix for sure.
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 Brad Keselowski with 3 races to go in the chase.
And congrats to Penske Racing for getting both of their cars into the chase, that’s huge in itself. Penske has turned the entire operation, now let’s see if Brad Keselowski, Penske’s best chance get win the championship for the captain, I wouldn’t beat against him.