|Could use some photoshop skills here|
13. Greg Biffle, #16 3M Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
Biffle is one of the top drivers on the circuit on the intermediate tracks that dominate the Chase, but he has been far less consistent this year than he was in the regular season last year and since finishing in the top ten at Sonoma after putting together back-to-back top twos including a win at Michigan, he has an average of only 16.1.
12. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mtn Dew Chevy, Hendrick Motorsports
For the first time in his career, Earnhardt has reached the Chase for three straight seasons and he has shown solid consistency on the racetrack as well as keeping his car out of trouble. But the reason why he has struggled in the Chase the last couple of seasons is that he is not running up front that often and not enough. I think that will continue this year.
11. Kurt Busch, #78 Furniture Row Chevy, Furniture Row Racing
Busch helped to make history this season as being the first-ever driver from a single-car team to make the Chase. And he truly has been a revelation for this Denver-based team as he made them a contender the likes of which they have never been close to being before. That said, he had some bad luck when running up front at times, not to mention that he has his eyes looking forward towards joining Stewart-Haas Racing.
10. Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy, Hendrick Motorsports
Well, who saw this one coming? For the first time ever, we have an additional driver added to the Chase in the former of this four-time champion as a result of Penske Racing trying to collaborate with Front Row Motorsports to get Joey Logano secured in the field, which came at the expense of Gordon (as well as the MWR nonsense). Personally, since Gordon has not been that consistent this year, I do not expect much out of him in the Chase but considering that he has had his wrongs fixed by NASCAR, maybe he'll drive it like he stole it and surprise us all.
9. Ryan Newman, #39 Quicken Loans Chevy, Stewart-Haas Racing
Speaking of SHR, Newman was clearly screwed by Clint Bowyer's nonsense on Saturday night and thus was the main beneficiary when Truex was all but thrown out of the Chase. But while Newman should definitely be motivated by getting a second chance to run for the title, he also has not been that consistent in 2013 plus he also has one eye out the door as well.
8. Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance Chevy, Hendrick Motorsports
Kahne is a guy that many have felt has yet to put it all together completely and this year, he was a bit of an enigma with plenty of strong finishes followed up with disappointing runs. With Hendrick power, he will always have a chance at the title and he is capable of getting hot considering he runs so well at intermediate tracks but I am not sure whether or not he has the consistency down to get it done.
7. Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing
While I was pleased that NASCAR laid down a pretty stiff penalty for all of that crap that conspired at Richmond, I was surprised that the penalty laid toward Bowyer was all but meaningless where his 50-point penalty would not affect him in the Chase, considering he was the key driver in the caution that set everything up. And I think that distraction, plus being without competition director Norris will help, but don't be surprised if Bowyer is in the mix as he has been very consistent since joining the team.
6. Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser Chevy, Richard Childress Racing
And yet another driver that has an eye out the door (and on SHR), I have been impressed with how strong Harvick has ran that year considering he has been a lame duck all year. Very strong on just about any type of track, Harvick will be a real contender for the title but I think he will come up shy this year and going forward, who knows?
5. Joey Logano, #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford, Penske Racing
A Penske driver making a strong run late to seal a spot in the Chase? Sounds a bit like last year's champion, no? Well, I think it would be pretty lofty to expect Logano to emulate what Keselowski did a year ago in dueling down Jimmie Johnson, I have been really impressed with Logano's skill this year and how well he has ran to solidify himself to get here. He should continue that strong run during these final ten races.
4. Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's Chevy, Hendrick Motorsports
Five Time has been the guy to beat all year long and had been in the points lead for almost the entire season. And while he definitely will be in the mix down the stretch, as always, I have been troubled by how miserable how run to the Chase was, as he had an average finish of 36th the last four races. Now obviously he was safely in the Chase as to where he never had to sweat it out, I think running that poorly could be a bad sign if he wants a sixth.
3. Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
What has been key for Edwards this year is that he has reproven himself to be a winning driver as he has a pair of wins this year, (but of course one was this past Saturday at Richmond). He has been very consistent all season long, being in the top three in points for the bulk of 2013, and he is as capable of getting hot as any. While I don't think this will be the year that Edwards finally wins his title, he will certainly be in the mix down the stretch.
2. Matt Kenseth, #20 Home Depot/Dollar General Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing
Kenseth leads the series in wins with five and he has been so strong at times this season, he has been one of the consistent favorites to win it all. And yet, he has been pretty inconsistent for much of the second half of the regular season, and still picked up a pair of wins. Kenseth has shown a lot of speed on the intermediates throughout his career, and certainly this season, and he will be part of a Joe Gibbs duo atop the points.
1. Kyle Busch, #18 M&M's Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing
Yes, I know we have been down this road before. We have thought that Rowdy would put it all together to win the Chase before, but he hasn't shown enough consistency when it counts the most. But he has shown maturity this year and as per usual, plenty of speed. He is strong pretty much everywhere and you know he has great equipment. I think that Busch will bring Toyota their first title come Homestead.