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Nick Bromberg

Would our season rankings change with the new Chase format?

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Over the last three weeks, the main NASCAR page has counted down the projected top 20 drivers for 2011, finishing Friday with Jimmie Johnson at No. 1. Yes, he's the favorite once again. And why shouldn't he be?

The list was based off of predictions from Yahoo!'s Jay Busbee and Jay Hart, the Associated Press' Jenna Fryer, Landmark Newspapers' Dustin Long and USA Today's Nate Ryan. However, their top 20s were submitted before NASCAR officially announced the changes to the Chase and points system. So I asked the five if they would make any changes to their final 12 because of the new rules.

After the jump, catch their responses and their picks for the season. And since you (didn't) ask, I'll add in my 2011 top 20 as well.

Jay Busbee: "Biffle seems a lock to win a couple races a year, and Newman is sneaky victorious. It'll be tight between him and Kurt Busch, but I get the sense that Busch is headed for a lull season. I could be, and have been, oh so wrong in the past, so you're advised not to use these for any wagering purposes."

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Kyle Busch
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Jeff Gordon
7. Tony Stewart
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Jamie McMurray
10. Matt Kenseth
11. Greg Biffle
12. Kurt Busch
13. Jeff Burton
14. Juan Pablo Montoya
15. Kasey Kahne
16. David Reutimann
17. Ryan Newman
18. Mark Martin
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
20. Joey Logano

Jay Hart: "That's a great question, considering we made our picks prior to NASCAR announcing the new points system and the new qualifying system for the Chase. That said, I wouldn't revise my 12 for one reason: ranking inside the top 12 is going to be as tough as ever this season, meaning if you're in the top 12, you'll probably have won a race, maybe even two. The one name I don't have in my top 12 that could get in on wins -- Juan Pablo Montoya. He'll either be challenging for a championship or nowhere to be seen. Nothing in the middle."

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Kyle Busch
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Jeff Gordon
7. Matt Kenseth
8. Greg Biffle
9. Kurt Busch
10. Mark Martin
11. Tony Stewart
12. Jeff Burton
13. Clint Bowyer
14. Joey Logano
15. Kasey Kahne
16. Ryan Newman
17. Juan Pablo Montoya
18. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
19. Brian Vickers
20. Jamie McMurray

Jenna Fryer: "I'd put Montoya and McMurray in as the wild cards now, because I think they'll race differently. One to two wins will get them into the Chase. I'd put Kenseth in over Logano, since he'll be top 10 in points through consistency."

1. Kyle Busch
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Carl Edwards
6. Jeff Gordon
7. Juan Pablo Montoya
8. Jamie McMurray
9. Tony Stewart
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Joey Logano
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
13. Greg Biffle
14. Matt Kenseth
15. Kurt Busch
16. Jeff Burton
17. Kasey Kahne
18. David Reutimann
19. Martin Truex Jr.
20. Ryan Newman

Dustin Long: "I'm going to stick with my 12 but there's a driver that could benefit from the rule change. While many want to call this the Jamie McMurray rule after he missed the Chase last year despite winning the Daytona 500 and at Indy (his third win came during the Chase), Ryan Newman is the one who might benefit the most. If this rule would have been in place earlier, he would have made the Chase as a wildcard two of the past three seasons. Keep an eye on him this year."

1. Denny Hamlin
2. Carl Edwards
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Kyle Busch
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Greg Biffle
7. Juan Pablo Montoya
8. Jeff Gordon
9. Joey Logano
10. Tony Stewart
11. Clint Bowyer
12. Kurt Busch
13. Jamie McMurray
14. Mark Martin
15. Matt Kenseth
16. Jeff Burton
17. Ryan Newman
18. Brad Keselowski
19. Kasey Kahne
20. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Nate Ryan: "I don't think any of the guys outside the top 12 would have more wins than those in the top 12. So I suppose my top 12 wouldn't look much different than it is."

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Kyle Busch
4. Jeff Gordon
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Carl Edwards
7. Denny Hamlin
8. Tony Stewart
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10. Juan Pablo Montoya
11. Clint Bowyer
12. Greg Biffle
13. Martin Truex Jr.
14. Ryan Newman
15. David Reutimann
16. Kurt Busch
17. Jeff Burton
18. Brad Keselowski
19. Kasey Kahne
20. Joey Logano

I think that Logano will make the Chase this season and that Clint Bowyer will finish considerably higher than he's been predicted to. Of course, like Busbee, I've proven to be very wrong in the past, so maybe this is what all the Vader-haters have been waiting for.

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Kyle Busch
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Tony Stewart
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Greg Biffle
10. Joey Logano
11. Matt Kenseth
12. Jamie McMurray
13. Juan Pablo Montoya
14. Kurt Busch
15. Ryan Newman
16. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
17. Mark Martin
18. Jeff Burton
19. Brad Keselowski
20. Kasey Kahne

Who you got this year? Drop us a line in the comments. The 500 is just eight days away!

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