18 September 2015

2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup: Challenger Round Predictions

The 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup commences this Sunday from Chicagoland Speedway and now with one season with this elimination format already in the books, we may know what to expect this go-around. Or, perhaps not. Anyways, which drivers will survive and advance to the Contender Round after Dover and who will be eliminated? Here are my predictions.

1. Kyle Busch
Projected winner at Chicagoland

2. Kevin Harvick
Projected winner at New Hampshire

3. Jimmie Johnson
Projected winner at Dover

4. Matt Kenseth

5. Carl Edwards

6. Joey Logano

7. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

8. Brad Keselowski

9. Martin Truex, Jr.

10. Denny Hamlin

11. Kurt Busch

12. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer's future is very cloudy the impending closure of Michael Waltrip Racing so you know he won't be lacking for momentum as he looks for a ride. He also enters the Chase with a little momentum with five top tens in his last seven races. I think he'll do enough to keep his Chase hopes alive come Charlotte.
13. Jeff Gordon
Obviously I would hate to see Gordon go out like this in his final season but sympathy aside, Gordon simply has had an off year and has struggled to find a lot of race speed (although he does have three poles). He probably can't get to the broadcast booth soon enough at this point.

14. Ryan Newman
It really was stunning to see Newman come really darn close to winning the championship last season despite having not much more than a good season. However as we all know, lightning doesn't strike twice and thus I don't see another run to the championship race for Newman.

15. Jamie McMurray
McMurray is also making his Chase debut after quietly putting up the best points season of his career this year. He's been a nice story but he also has not scored a top ten in the last three months, which is kind of remarkable to think about.

16. Paul Menard
Menard did himself a very nice job of getting into his first ever Chase as he held on despite a mediocre finish at Richmond while Aric Almirola was fighting hard to slide in. That said, Menard really hasn't shown that much speed at all this season (only four top tens) so it would be surprising to see him survive the first elimination.

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