As we count down to the 2013 Daytona 500, we're also counting down how we think the Chase will play out this season as predicted by Nick Bromberg, Jay Busbee, Jay Hart and Geoffrey Miller. So sit back, relax, and watch the 2013 Chase unfold before your very eyes. Though you should be warned, we picked Carl Edwards to win last year.
2012 Finish: 5th. Three wins (Daytona, Talladega, Kansas)
Crew Chief: Jason Ratcliff
When we last saw Kenseth: He was winning two Chase races but nowhere near title contention. Why? Well, his teammate Greg Biffle, who we profiled Thursday, was out of the hunt after three straight finishes in the teens to open the Chase. Kenseth started with an 18th and a 14th and then finished 35th at Dover to find himself in the basement of the Chase.
Big Question for 2013: This one is pretty obvious, eh? Will there be a transition period at Joe Gibbs Racing? Kenseth announced that he was leaving the only Sprint Cup Series team he had ever known in Roush Fenway in June -- when he was atop the points standings. In the fall, he revealed that he was moving to JGR's No. 20 car and his presence means its an explicit disappointment if all three of the JGR cars miss the Chase.
Track most likely to win at: If this was last year's car and last year's team and crew chief combination (with Jimmy Fennig atop the pit box), this would be easy: Daytona and Talladega. Kenseth and Fennig had something special at the plate tracks, leading 245 laps and winning once at each track.
Track most likely to require a miracle to win at: Sonoma. Kenseth has finished in the top 10 once in 13 races in wine country and that was an eighth place finish in 2008.
How Kenseth could win the Chase: The man who won the last pre-Chase title gets a couple more wins in the regular season and avoids the crazy engine and random troubles that have plagued both Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin over recent seasons. At worst, Kenseth is making a lateral move in teams; not making the Chase with Gibbs would be just as big a surprise as if he was still at Roush.
How Kenseth couldn't: The adjustment to JGR and new crew chief Ratcliff takes the entire regular season and Kenseth misses the Chase.
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