Early Chase for the Championship Prediction
1) Carl Edwards-
He has built a comfy cushion with amazing consistency thus far in 2011. Additionally, he has a victory, which would help if he were to take a complete nosedive and fall out of the top 10, which is unlikely.
2) Kyle Busch- Busch has two victories and counting in 2011. He is a virtual lock to enter the 2011 rendition of the Chase for the Championship.
3) Kevin Harvick- While Harvick and Busch do not see eye-to-eye most of the time, they do have on thing in common; they both are almost sure to be racing for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Like Busch, Harvick has two wins.
4) Matt Kenseth- Kenseth also has two wins, which will likely be enough to clinch a chase berth. He is also one of the most consistent drivers of our era, so it is unlikely that he will need the Wild Card.
5) Jimmie Johnson- As sure as the sun will set, Johnson will race in the Chase for the Championship.
6) Clint Bowyer- Bowyer will eventually end up with multiple wins, and ease into another Chase for the Championship. I have said it all year, Bowyer is this year’s Denny Hamlin.
7) Dale Earnhardt Jr- Earnhardt Jr may not be contending for many victories, but he is making the most of his performances. He is finishing races, and has built a sizable lead over the 11th place driver.
8) Tony Stewart- Stewart is having an average season, but he is still in the top 10 in points. What does that tell you? This team always heats up when the month of June rolls around.
9) Ryan Newman- Newman is carrying the banner for Stewart Haas Racing this season, and he is clearly fired up. Despite a few bumps in the road, he is still solidly in the top 10.
10) Greg Biffle- I think Biffle will eventually replace Kurt Busch in the top 10. Biffle has performed almost as well as Kenseth and Edwards, he has not had the luck his two teammates have enjoyed. I cannot imagine Biffle missing the Chase.
11) Denny Hamlin- Hamlin will win two or three races before September and use the Wild Card to sneak into the Chase in what is clearly an off-year.
12) Marcos Ambrose- You heard it here first. Ambrose will sweep the two road course races and race his way into the Chase. I have a gut feeling about this team in 2011. I believe they can win on ovals as well.
Jeff Gordon struck early at Phoenix with a convincing victory, but he has been rather lackluster since. It may take a few months before he and Alan Gustafson find the consistency they need. Sorry Gordon fans, I know this is an unpopular decision.
Kurt Busch will miss the Chase because the Penske group is clearly off the pace. They had a decent showing at Dover, well, Brad Keselowski had a decent day. Busch had to rebound from losing a lap. Penske Racing is hurting.
Mark Martin lacks the speed. He needed pit strategy to finish 2nd at Dover. Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr lack the consistency. Earnhardt Ganassi drivers Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya lack both speed and consistency.
Brian Vickers, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard, David Reutimann, Bobby Labonte, Regan Smith, A.J. Allmendinger, and David Ragan will also have to wait another season.