With the start of the 2014 World Cup less than two days away, it's time to host our second NASCAR World Cup.
We first ran the NASCAR World Cup in 2010 and Carl Edwards took home the prestigious gold trophy with a final round win over Tony Stewart at Richmond. In case you've forgotten the rules or aren't familiar with the World Cup, here's a primer before we reveal the groups.
• We took the top 32 drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings. Sorry David Ragan, you were 33rd so you missed the cut. We then divided them into four pots. Drivers 1-8 were in one pot, followed by 9-16, 17-24 and 25-32.
• Eight pots, A-H, were created. One driver from each pot is in each group. Drivers were not allowed to be put in the same pot as a teammate.
• As the NASCAR defending champion, Jimmie Johnson was given Pot A, a random draw was held amongst the seven other drivers in Pot 1 for the eight other groups.
• Each driver will go head-to-head with an opponent from his or her group in the next three weeks at Michigan, Sonoma and Kentucky. The top two drivers from each group will advance to the knockout round, which will be held at Daytona, New Hampshire, Indianapolis and Pocono, where the winner will be crowned.
• Like the World Cup, head-to-head will not be used as a tiebreaker. Instead, we'll use finish differential and total finishes as a second tiebreaker. (For example, if Jamie McMurray finishes seventh and he's against Austin Dillon who finishes ninth, McMurray leaves with a win and is +2 while Dillon gets a loss and is -2.)
Got all that? First, here's how the four pots stacked up before we made our blind draw:
Pot 1: Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin
Pot 2: Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer
Pot 3: Paul Menard, Tony Stewart, Aric Almirola, A.J. Allmendinger, Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Martin Truex Jr.
Pot 4: Casey Mears, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, Cole Whitt, David Gilliland
The blind draw was dramatic and climactic. It was overseen by officials so corrupt that FIFA look like angels in comparison. Nothing was rigged here, we promise. (No, it really wasn't. We simply picked pieces of paper out of a hat.)
Group A: Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers, Aric Almirola, Danica Patrick
Group B: Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears
Group C: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Austin Dillon, Martin Truex Jr., Michael Annett
Group D: Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Tony Stewart, Justin Allgaier
Group E: Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Kurt Busch
Group F: Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose, Cole Whitt
Group G: Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, David Gilliland
Group H: Jeff Gordon, Kyle Larson, A.J. Allmendinger, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
What group looks toughest to you? We'll break down each group leading into Michigan and give our predictions for each. May the best driver win.
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