13 September 2013

2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup Predictions

Could use some photoshop skills here
It certainly was a wild a wild race on Saturday night to set the 2013 field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup as the picture numerous times during the race, and with plenty of controversy surrounding one intentional spin to get a teammate into the big show and thus Martin Truex, Jr. was thrown out of the Chase, Ryan Newman was put into the Chase and Clint Bowyer was docked 50 points as were all MWR drivers (although Bowyer's will not affect his Chase position). And if that was not enough, as a result by some shenanigans on the part of Penske Racing, we have a 13th driver with Jeff Gordon getting added to the mix just today. We know we will not have a repeat champion as Brad Keselowski missed the field but with nine out of the 13 drivers not having a championship, could we see a first-time champ? Here are my predictions for the 2013 Chase.

Pre-Chase points

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.

9Ryan 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.

8Kasey Kahne#5 Farmers Insurance ChevyHendrick 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.

2 comments:

  1. WHY are people writing Jimmie off? To me, this fantasy stuff seems so simple, and I am always right with it. Jimmie has had bad luck, and a baby. He wasn't performing bad. The speed is there, and he will be the guy to beat. Simple. Kyle Busch will come out strong. But he's not a championship driver. Not yet. He's got good equipment, but he can't elevate. He doesn't have the consistency. He'll come out STRONG in the first few races. May even take the points lead. He'll win atleast one more. But he won't keep it up. He'll run top ten in some races, as soon as he has two races in a row running 5-10, the inevitable will happen, as it happens every year. The title contenders will be up front contending for wins each race. Kyle Busch will then loose confidence, and won't keep up with the two guys who are able to put up numbers, and show they can perform under pressure and have the best cars in the chase. Kyle will finish in the top 5 in points. Probably 3rd, or 4th. However, he will falter, when Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards start to outrun the field. Johnson is Johnson. This past month means nothing. Edwards has been running consistently all year long. He's got momentum, and the 99 ALWAYS runs good with momentum, when they are strong, they are strong, and win in bunches. Confidence is what that team needs to thrive, and they got it. Mark my words man, half way through the chase, it will be clear that this championship will come down to Jimmie Johnson vs Carl Edwards. Jimmie Johnson wins his 6th title.

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    1. Excellent points, and I have not written Johnson off. I just think that in a short stretch of 10 races, I am a little worried at how the team has run down the stretch. I also think that we can't just look at Johnson as being a lock considering the last two years, he hasn't won it. Guy's awesome, but not invincible.

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