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: 3rd. 5 wins (Darlington, Dover, Indianapolis, Martinsville, Texas)
Crew Chief: Chad Knaus
When we last saw Johnson: He was going from title contender to a distant third in the span of the final two races. Right front tire, how you failed Johnson so at Phoenix, and rear-end gear, how you failed him so at Homestead. For a while, Phoenix was shaping up to be another great chapter in the battle between Keselowski and Johnson, but as soon as Johnson's tire exploded and his car hit the wall, his chances went kaput.
Big Question for 2013: What has Johnson done to deserve the restrictor plate karma he currently has? Vader was caught up in a crash in Saturday's Sprint Unlimited, a result that closely resembled his two Daytona starts last year, starts that also ended in crashes. At Talladega, he lost an engine in the spring and then in the fall, finished 17th. We all know how fluky plate racing can be, but man, this has been a miserable stretch for J.J.
Track most likely to win at: Martinsville or Dover, as Johnson has seven wins at each of those tracks.
Track most likely to require a miracle to win at: This is Jimmie Johnson, so calling it a miracle for him to win at any track is a bit of a stretch. He hasn't won at Michigan in 22 starts, though was tantalizingly close last year before his engine expired.
[Related: Play Fantasy Auto Racing 2013]
How Johnson could win the Chase: In basic terms, Johnson just needs to run as well as he did last year and avoid the cataclysmic finishes. He scored the most top 10s of any driver in the series (24) yet was sixth in average finish because of six DNFs, half of which came at those aforementioned plate tracks. 22 drivers had fewer DNFs than Johnson did.
How Johnson couldn't: That restrictor plate luck doesn't change and Johnson is caught up in a crash at Talladega that ruins his Chase chances. Or Johnson's triathlon urges get the best of him and he decides to run the 500 laps at Martinsville instead of driving them.
Five looking for six
I am closing in, Richard
Maybe I'll get ten
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