Sure, predictions in my opinion, mean nothing but jack, but it still is fun to guess how you think drivers are going to do anyway for the upcoming season.
That being said, here are my NASCAR predictions for 2010, from 35th to 1st
35. David Gilliland - Wasn?t it just a few years ago that this guy was going to be the next big surprise in NASCAR? Planning on running all but 4-6 races, but with Start and Parkers and some other teams having multiple drivers in their cars, I think Gilliland will do about enough to put himself in the Top 35
34. Kevin Conway - This is even assuming that he does not get the clearance to run at Daytona, and I still think I am overestimating this finishing position. Then again, with a few other cars, having the possibilities of multiple drivers running a car for a full season, or just flat out starting and parking, he might just end up around here by default, especially if the 37 can stay in the Top 35.
33. Regan Smith - Not really much to say here, unless Furniture Row Racing end up having problems again, otherwise, should be just good enough to be a Top 35 car.
32. Travis Kvapil - Read above. Not much to say, don?t think Kvapil will be impressive, but just good enough to keep the 34 in the Top 35
31. Bobby Labonte - There were some signs of light coming from the 71 when Labonte filled in after being booted from the 96 car late in the season, however, this team is not that good at all. Might get lucky to get a Top 10 finish here and there, but I cant see this team doing that well, even with a former champ behind the wheel.
30. Paul Menard - He, not Dale Jr., should be chased at because of his dad. If he was any other Joe Schmoe with the talents Menard has, the only way he would even sniff the race track is if he had a pit pass.
29. Sam Hornish Jr. - He did make some progress this past season, however, something is nagging in me that he is going to end up falling backwards on what he progressed on, then bolt back to the IRL for 2011 if the opportunity is right for him.
28. Scott Speed - Showed some promise in qualifying in some races last season, just was behind the 8-ball due to the learning curve in stock cars, and the 82 not being in the Top 35 to begin with. If Speed can qualify for the first 5 races of the year, I could see him having a much better season than last. I believe he has the talent, he just needs the car, and time to learn.
27. Elliott Sadler - I might be underestimating his position here, but something is telling me it is going to be pretty much the same like last season.
26. Jamie McMurray - Granted, he was on the bottom of the totem pole at Roush, in my opinion, but still, going from an A-list team to a B-list team that has had, except for Juan Pablo Montoya, has had recent troubles, I can?t see McMurray doing much better than he did last season.
25. Martin Truex Jr. - I think Michael Waltrip Racing is about equivalent of what DEI/Ganassi was last season, so I believe he should be around this position again. Might impress a race or two, but I don?t believe he will be a chase contender.
24. David Reutimann - From here on up to the chase spots, it is going to be mighty hard to pinpoint where I think certain drivers are going to be at. As a matter of fact, I would not be the least bit surprised if we got a very close race for the Chase leading up to it. I just have a feeling I might be underestimating him, and probably will discover I have.
23. David Ragan - Which Ragan will show? The 2008 Ragan that showed lots of promise, and could possibly make a run for the Chase, or the 2009 Ragan that looked a lot like he was just out of his league at times? It did not help Roush had a down year, but I feel the team should rebound, and if everything falls right, so should Ragan.
22. Brad Keselowski - It should be fun watching him race in 2010. He has a racers fire in him that I like, and will be willing to do what it takes to finish well, even if it pisses a few people off along the way. Too bad he ran a bunch of races in 2009, otherwise, he would be hands down, Rookie of the Year by outright default.
21. Joey Logano - He could, like some of the others mentioned, finish much better than this. He has had some flashes of brilliance along the way, but with his age, he still has a lot to learn. I am almost certain Joe Gibbs will be more than willing to give this kid as much time as possible.
20. A.J. Allmendinger - Too bad Red Bull didn?t decide to keep him. I think if they were a little more patient with him, and gave him a year in the Nationwide Series before throwing him in a Cup car, he, and Red Bull, could have been better off. I think Allmendinger could show good results here and there, maybe even put up a respectable season.
19. Jeff Burton - I think he might finish around this spot, but not because of age or such. Like I had mentioned, I feel the spots toward the chase might be a very close battle in the races leading up to it, with so much talent around.
18. Marcos Ambrose - Unless last season was just flat out luck, I could see Ambrose stunning the NASCAR world, and possibly make the chase. He should win a road course race this season, but I would not be the least bit surprised if he picks up a win on an oval.
17. Ryan Newman - If qualifying were worth something, Ryan Newman, in his career, would probably be much better off. That being said, he could do better, now that Stewart-Haas is now in its 2nd season, but I think this is about right for Newman, maybe could do better.
16. Clint Bowyer - I have said that RCR could improve, but Bowyer could just be the victim of stiff competition for Chase spots.
15. Kurt Busch - Yes, Busch was a contender for the title last season, but with Dodge only with one team now (Penske), I do not know if this could hurt, with the lack of other teams they could get info from, or help, since this will be the sole focus of Dodge. He could be anywhere in the Top 20 this season.
14. Juan Pablo Montoya - One big thing is holding him up from me putting him higher up on this list. The team. Yes, he was contending in a DEI/Ganassi car, but this isn?t a DEI car from 5 years back. If he can repeat what he did last season leading up to the Chase, then that might solidify his spot with me predicting him in the Top 12 for 2011, but I believe only the team will be what holds him back.
13. Greg Biffle - He isn?t getting any younger, so his window of opportunity to contend is closing. With so much competition for the Chase, I have a gut feeling he could be the odd man out.
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - It?s time for him to pull his head out of his butt, and get his career into gear. With the team he is on, and the equipment he gets, he should be doing much better. I realize that it could be a mental thing going on with him, but he has to realize, the time is NOW, otherwise, he will end up in the same scrap heap as Kyle Petty.
11. Kasey Kahne - He is back to the manufacturer that was behind him in his rise through NASCAR. Should make it back to the chase.
10. Brian Vickers - I could be overestimating what he does for this season, but Red Bull has gotten better and better, and Vickers is starting to show some of the talent that he was said to have when rising through the ranks. If the 83 makes the Chase again, expect Vickers to show up this time around.
9. Kevin Harvick - Last season was his worst since 2002. There is no way that it should signal a downward trend, especially since RCR usually rebounds a year after expanding (though RCR did eliminate a car over the off-season).
8. Denny Hamlin - As long as he doesn?t get bothered by his pest (Brad Keselowski), he should do fine, and make the chase.
7. Carl Edwards - He was supposed to be the man to dethrone Jimmie Johnson from getting four-in-a-row. Instead, Roush picked a bad time to have a down year, and it didn?t help Edwards had a broken foot leading into the Chase. If he can race like he did in 2008, this guess could be a vast underestimation.
6. Mark Martin - For a 50 year old man, the guy can race like he is 30. With his smarts, and getting much better luck than he had last season, he could finally get a title that has for so long eluded him. Only thing holding him back is his age, and reluctance to race hard if needed.
5. Matt Kenesth - He is a very consistent racer. Last season was a vast aberration. It looked like at first if he could be the man to dethrone Jimmie Johnson, especially after the first two races of the season, then he only finished in the Top 10 a very-unKenesth like 10 more times that season. Not only should he be back in the Chase, he should, if everything goes right, be a contender for a championship.
4. Jeff Gordon - He is getting older, and his body is getting creaky now. That does not mean though that he is out of it, as evidenced from last season. Unless something shocking happens, Gordon should easily make the Chase, should probably be in the Top 5, but I doubt he will win the title.
3. Tony Stewart - He is doing the owner-driver thing correctly. Unlike Darrell Waltrip, Geoff and Brett Bodine, Ricky Rudd, and Bill Elliott, Stewart was smart to have someone help him run the team, and even smarter to align with Rick Hendrick. I should not expect anything less than around Top 5.
2. Kyle Busch - He will be back in the Chase, and he will run like a man possessed. Not making the Chase last year was an embarrassment for him, and I cannot see him missing two years in a row. The only thing holding ?Shrub? back from winning a title however, is that he has to accept that if he cannot win a race, that he just has to accept getting the most points possible, and not quitting.
1. Jimmie Johnson - As a famous wrestler would usually quip? ?To be the man, you have to BEAT the man!?. Jimmie is THE MAN, and will continue to be so until someone can prove otherwise. He continues to make not only NASCAR history, but Auto Racing history.
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