The Daytona 500 Is 2 Weeks Away, Check Out Some Preseason Rankings!
20.David Reutimann: David came ohh so close to making the Chase in 2009, and had his best year in his short Sprint Cup career. I'm thinking he might make the Chase, but he starts off just a little bit lower based on his slight tumble late in the year.
19.Jeff Burton: He and the rest of RCR fell off the face of the earth in 2009, but all started to improve late in the year. I'll be honest, this is based on 2009 performance, but I look for Burton to make his way up the ladder pretty quick if the last dozen races are an indication of 2010.
18.Kevin Harvick: I have him low to begin, but like Jeff Burton, I fully expect Happy to move up through the rankings based on what we all saw from RCR. By Richmond in September, he should be right around the Chase, if not already in it.
17.Brad keselowski: I'm excited to see what this kid can do with a full-time ride. He certainly earned it based on his performance in 2009, including the win at Talladega.
16.Clint Bowyer: Like the other 2 RCR guys, I'm thinking Bowyer will make the Chase. With a brand new team, he was great out of the gate, but struggled closer to the start of the Chase. It's hard predicting the top 12 this year. I think Clint can make it, but I also see there being a clusterf*** for the final Chase spot.
15.Kasey Kahne: Kahne is one guy I see missing the Chase who made it in 2009. I don't think RPM will be as good as they were in the engine department, and I still don't understand the switch to Ford. I know they merged, but Kasey was doing just fine in a Dodge...bottom line, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. They tried to fix it and IMHO they're gonna end up breaking it.
14.Greg Biffle: The Biff is another one I foresee missing the Chase after making it last year. He has a habit of doing that, a good year followed by a narrow miss the next. He nearly won the title in 2005, missed the Chase the next 2 years, was a true dark horse in 2008, and made the Chase last year but just sort of hovered right around the middle, and had his first winless season as a Cup driver.
13.Kurt Busch: He may have finished 4th in 2009, but make no mistake, that big stink with Pay Tryson WILL have an effect in 2010. Kurt will win a race or two, but he'll just miss the Chase this year, thanks to having to rebuild with a new crew chief.
12.Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Yes, Junior will make the Chase in 2010, by the hair of his chinny-chin-chin. What he'll do in the Chase is a different story, but 2010 will be a better year than 2009.
11.Matt Kenseth: He missed the Chase in 2009 for the very first time. There's no way he misses out two years in a row though. Matt will be back in the Chase in 2010, and I'd almost put money on that in Vegas, he's too consistent to miss for a second year.
Check page two for the top ten.
10.Brian Vickers: Making the Chase in 2009 was no fluke. This team is for real, and will prove it in 2010. Vickers won't win the title, but he will make the Chase and win more than once this season.
9.Ryan Newman: Hello, Newman! This is where he finished in 2009, and this is where I'm starting him out in the rankings for 2010. I see no reason to believe Stewart-Haas racing won't continue to improve, and Newman just might make a few visits to victory lane this year.
8.Carl Edwards: He went winless in 2009, which was a surprise in itself. I see Carl rebounding in 2010. He might be moving further up the ladder as the season progresses.
7.Kyle Busch: Here's the third and final driver who missed the Chase in 2009 that will make it back into the Top 12 in 2010. I think missing the Chase last year taught him a lesson, take the 4th place finish instead of wrecking yourself out trying to win and you'll be in much better shape!
6.Jeff Gordon: Gordon will easily make the Chase, but will not win the title, and just miss a top 5 finish in the points, slightly worse than last year overall. However, he'll win 3 races at the least in 2010, putting him above the cluster of Waltrip, Allison, and Yarborough, and leaving him all alone in 3rd place on the all-time wins list.
5.Mark Martin: Mark will win a couple more races, and will make the Chase once again, but I really believe 2009 was his last legitimate shot at winning a championship. Oh how I'd love to be wrong, but I just don't think it's going to happen.
4.Juan Montoya: This man emerged as a true dark horse to start last year's Chase. He will make it again, and this year he WILL win on an oval. As I said in an article last week, it's not a question of if he will, but rather when.
3.Denny Hamlin: Denny will be a huge factor all year, making the Chase, winning quite a few races, but will come up just short of the title. Don't think he'll go down without a fight though, and I mean that both literally and figuratively *cough-KESELOWSKI-cough*!
2.Jimmie Johnson: Yes, he's the reigning 4-time Champ. Yes, he will make the Chase again. Yes, he will be in victory lane at least 5 times. No, he will not win 5 in a row. The dominance will finally come to an end, but this begs the question, who's left?
1.Tony Stewart: He had an incredible first year as an owner/driver. He led for much of the season, and while he didn't win in the final 10 races, I see no reason to believe 2010 won't be even better than 2009. Smoke is the man who will dethrone Jimmie Johnson.
The only sure thing with these rankings is that they will be changing faster than Bill Elliott's Talladega qualifying record. It's time to start answering all the questions, and they'll start being answered on Valentine's Day with the 52nd running of the Daytona 500, now let's go racing!
BK over and out