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I heard many folks say last year that they knew Tony was going to beat Carl for the championship; however they received this epiphany on lap 399 at Homestead. I prefer to make my predictions at the beginning of the season and let the chips fall where they may. We get 12 slots for the chase so here are my predictions.
There are the usual casts of characters; Tony and Jimmie have made every chase, while Carl, Matt and Gordon have only missed one, these are a lock. Happy Harvick and Kyle Busch are solid and should get an automatic bid. The last five spots are going to be tough with a robust group vying for a position.
Brad Keselowski got in last year based on his second half surge. He is in the flagship car of the Penske organization and all he has to do is continue to listen to Paul Wolf and he should secure his second chase run.
Denny Hamlin blamed Mike Ford for the error at Phoenix that cost him the 2010 championship. Their relationship continued south in 2011 and consequently Ford is in the unemployment line. Darrin Grubb replaces him from the 14 team that won the championship. He was rewarded by Stewart with a pink slip. While they did a group hug and sang kumbaya in the winner’s circle in Homestead, don’t think he wants to prove that Tony made a mistake. This is going to be a much better team and will make the chase.
The blue oval moved forward in the chase last year and finished second (again). Greg Erwin was replaced by Matt Puccia midseason last year to team with Greg Biffle. This allowed them a chance to iron out the communication issues and will secure The Biff his 5th chase run.
Kasey Kahne had hoped that Rick Hendrick could talk Mark Martin into stepping aside his HMS ride in 2011, but instead had to take a demotion to Red Bull Racing. This year he will be teamed with his long time crew chief Kenny Francis in HMS equipment and will give the evil empire its 3rd entry to the chase.
Now we are down to one spot and lots of drivers that are in the mix. First there is Jeff Burton, the former Roushkateer and nicest guy in the garage area is in the twilight of his career. He will perform well but will miss the chase. Clint Bowyer along with his stablemate Martin Truex will learn how hard it is to win at MWR, also missing the big dance. Paul Menard has to prove that he can perform every week, before we can give him the nod. I haven’t mentioned Petty, EGR or even Finch racing as they are second tier teams at this point. They may win a race, but the chase is just a bridge too far for these folks.
I have not addressed the White Elephant in the room in JUNIOR!!! Can he and Steve Letarte return to the big dance? Sure, but what fun would it be if I picked him? For all those Junior fans out there, I have to bring up the obvious, but he AIN’T Dale Sr. He is a nice guy who gives it all he’s got, but he will miss the chase this year. Steve LeTarte will apologize to Rick Hendrick, who will chuckle all the way to the bank as he will still make more money off of Junior than most of his other drivers.
The 12th and final position goes to……A. J. Allmendinger in the #22 car. He will be teamed with Kes’s Nationwide crew chief, Todd Gordon to form the future of Penske racing. The Dinger has been on the cusp of making the chase the past two years and is finally ready to cross the finish line for Roger Penske.
Naturally no prognostication is complete without a winner. So here you go……Cousin Carl…..he has played second fiddle to both Jimmie and Tony and along with Bob Osbourne will edge out Hamlin and Darrian Grubb for the 2012 championship.
12 Chasers (no particular order):
Edwards, Stewart, Johnson, Kenseth
Kyle Busch, Harvick, Jeff Gordon, JR
Keselowski, Kahne, The Dinger, and Montoya
Let me give some explanations. I have Montoya getting in as a wild card. I think a winless Ryan Newman finishes 11th/12th, but Juan takes a race on an oval (somewhere like Texas, Charlotte, or Michigan) and a road course to get in. No Kurt as it seems no one else has either. No Hamlin this year, I see him winning a race, and then making a run in the Chase after he's eliminated. See Truex and Burton getting back to Victory Lane, but alas, no Chase.
- 3 Replies to GreenSteel
Interesting pick in Montoya. He has had some success, but not sure he has made enough. Felix Sabates was instrumental in getting Kurt Busch to James Finch racing. I would not be surprised that it is just a place holder for EGR racing, in which Felix is part owner for the 2013 season.
Welcome GreenSteel. Juan winning, another bold prediction. I went with Jamie in my list. He is the talent on the team. I know Juan thinks he is but look at the W column.
It is good to see some out of the box thoughts though. Not many on here would put Juan in. That is the point though. Maybe this is the year he gets a win on something more than a road course. When he does I hope it is not tainted, I hope he races for it and earns some respect.
- 2 Replies to Benny
Benny, I like a man that is not afraid to go out on a limb and you certainly did that in Joey. He NEEDS a big year. He has been around long enough that he has to start changing potential into wins. Kurt Busch is on a one year no contract with James Finch, so he is going to want to go back to a big time ride. A double Busch brothers is certainly one scenario if they think he is not going to cut the mustard. Making the chase would go a long way to solidifying Joey's position.
I thought Johnson was the only one to make all the chases. Didn't Tony miss the year after he won his second cup?
Anyways my predictions
Kyle Busch wins the cup. I think with the reduced schedule in the Nationwide series and the lightbulb that finally went off in his head, he'll finally have a good chase this year.
Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart will give him a run for his money. Denny Hamlin may an outside shot at the title, but he's going to have to want it and get over missing out in 2010.
Jimmiem Johnson shouldn't be counted out and maybe not winning the championship last year will hep revitalize him and Chad.
Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon will enter the discussion somewhere, but I don't think those teams will have the consistency to get the job done.
Others that can be a threat are Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth. Kasey Kahne will have good equipment and with the way he was running at the end of the year last year, I could very well see him making a run.
Others who can contend for a chase berth should any of the above falter. Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (I think last year will go a long way in helping his mindset and having the same crew chief for an extended period of time will be a plus).
A. J. Allmendinger will be the darkhorse. I would like to see him get a win or two. Who knows maybe he'll sweep the Road Courses and get in on one of the Wild Card slots.
- 2 Replies to Corey
You are correct about Tony, he was 11th in 2006, which was the last year of the 10 car format. As for Kyle he has the talent, but has to prove that he can stay focused. Retaliating for a perceived wrong, just to finish 40th does not do you any good in the point system.
Actually, I agree with your AJ analogy and the reason I have him in and Jr out.
I think "papa" wants the offspring to see him win the big trophy so much that he will be driven this season to end his hunger for the Sprint Cup. Jeff Gordon after #6 in 2013.
Allmendinger will make the Chase and a good showing in it. 6th place.
Kyle might pull his head from the dark side of the moon, but karma will not allow him to be rewarded with the Cup just yet.
If he can get control of his demons with the same skills he shows driving on track, he's a solid top five at season's end.
I don't believe that Tony's luck will hold out. No repeat, but he'll make the Chase.
I can see two each in the Chase from both RFR and RCR.
Jimmie and Chad will overcome the heavy hit they receive the week following the Daytona 500. But it will take them the better part of the regular season to get there.
Jr appears to be able to get that fire burning in his gut again, overcoming the dousing it took when he was burned in a sports car race. Top five if he stokes the fire all season.
I can count at least ten other drivers capable of putting their team in the Chase.
And a few that could make it on similar luck that Tony enjoyed last season.
Wow Excellent post, lost in the may-lay of league spam. I have to admit there are some shockers in there. On AJ, I was holding off on going that far. I do believe he will do well this year. I never thought him to be a chase contender. That is bold and you are the 1st to have stated that. I think my bold prediction would be that Luck of old shall not continue. Tony will get caught up in some bad luck this year, right before the chase. Very narrowly missing the chase this year. Jamie will see himself filling that spot. I am some what confused by the lack of performance so far from the Dodges. I'm not sure if Kes has been just laying back in Daytona or there are other issues going on. The shoot out both dodges hung in back till the end and didn't have the steam to stay up front. I think Clint swaps spots with AJ. I agree he will have a hard time at Monkey Wrench Racing. He is a driver and will "Will" that car to do things to prove to Robbing Children Racing they made a mistake. He will get MWR in the chase I think.
As for winning. Man! That is a tricky one. As for Carl I think he will find himself on the wrong end of a bumper too many times to win. For him to ever win he has to get out front and stay there. Other wise the hot head in him comes out. It will be even quicker to trigger now that he lost by so little. I think HMS finds a way to keep that cup tied to them one more year. Gordon will not let Kasey edge him out the 1st year in Hendicks equipment. The Wild Card is if Kyle can adapt to the new style of driving, he will have to use this year. If he can adapt to driving with respect, he could find himself trying to give Toyota their 1st cup ever. That is all predicated that Gibbs gets him to settle down just enough to not lose his edge, but enough to loose that rough edge around him.
That one ought to make some people scratch their head for a minute. LoL. Did I just leave the door open for Weasel Cup? I know many of us dislike him. He is one of the greatest talents behind the wheel. When he learns to let the emotions go and not hold on to them, while making bad decisions off them. He will be a force to be dealt with. The way he saved that car in the shoot out, there are only a hand full of drivers who could have gathered that up. Kyle's Cup hopes are in his hand and this could be his year but it might be next year. Time will tell.
I think I lived up to the fearless part of this prognostication. LoL.
- 1 Reply to A Yahoo! User
Great response. First through Daytona out the window as it is the first fuel injector race and I think other teams might have the edge on them this time around. However, the real test will begin next race and I THINK you will see them fall back in line.
To me Kahne is a real wild card, you know he has talent and you know that he will be in good equipment. You also know when teams get on a roll they can do amazing things. Stewart was not impressive going into the chase and then caught fire. How far he and Kenny can go is yet to be seen, I think he is going to be tough on the 1.5 and 2 mile tracks as well as Richmond.
I was confused at first that you listed Kyle and had assumed that it was an Imp that was spoofing you. Glad to see that you got Kyle in play and agree that Kyle is his own worse enemy. If he can get his head together he will be tough to beat.
Finally your Carl comments certainly have been an issue for him, but I think he made great strides in the chase last year. Bob Osbourne did a good job of keeping him focused. They had a lead and was betting that they could out point Tony. Only a Herculean effort by Tony and Darrien Grubb won him the trophy on the tie breaker. I actually think this will make him even more focused.
Roushkateer...... you rock! Carl deserves it and should have had it. Now he has to prove he deserved it and just was blind sided by maturity. I'll agree with you on Carl, he will show this year that he can not let down and let Smoke swoope in.
Now, Go Happy Harvick!
Well, I will say................that was well written and very well thought out..............I can't say I really disagree with you on any of it. I'll make this shorter though..............I like your thought process on Dinger...........this guy is good, and is coming on fast.........I agree he makes the chase..........as far as the winner.........going to pick Tony again, just a feeling, but I could see Carl winning it all too, or even Jimmy coming back to say, "ya all didn't forget about me did you" and winning his 6th.
- 1 Reply to Rickster
Look for Tony to have a good Daytona 500, but the spring has rarely been kind him and his performance going into the chase was not impressive. Darrien Grubb took the brunt of his angst and even though they won the championship, he was rewarded with a pink slip. Could Tony win again? Sure, but winning back to back championships is harder than Jimmie Johnson made it seem. Lets just hope that JJ doesn't recapture his glory just yet...lol.
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