There are only a couple more days until NASCAR season gets serious, so it's time to make a few bold predictions for Sprint Cup 2010.
Of course, please take these shots in the dark with a grain of salt; they are after all named ?Against the Grain? for a reason.
Most Improved Driver: Sam Hornish, Jr. ? As Juan Pablo Montoya has shown making the move from Open Wheel to Stock Car Racing takes a minimum of 3 seasons to see consistent results for the most talented of drivers.
Rookie of the Year: Danica Patrick ? What you say? She is not in Sprint Cup? I could have sworn she got more TV time then Greg Biffle and Joey Logano combined! Ok so really the only Rookie listed is Terry Cook but where is the fun in that? Hard to go ?Against the Grain? on this one.
Best in a New Ride: Jamie McMurray ? I have a feeling most would side with Martin Truex Jr. here but Jamie is back with Ganassi who he has had the most success with.
Most Likely to Earn His First Win: Marcos Ambrose ? And don?t just assume it will be a road course. Marcos is very close to breaking through on the Plate and Short Tracks as well.
Driver who Pulls a David Ragan (So much Promise One Year and then such a Disappointment the Next): David Reutimann ? With Martin Truex Jr. coming over and upstaging David he will no longer be considered ?The Franchise?.
Best New Paint Scheme: Mark Martin ? Godaddy.com Lime Green, Black, and Orange.
Who Wins the Daytona 500?: Kasey Kahne ? Kahne has been impressed with the Ford horsepower since making the transition from Dodge. He takes the checkered flag Sunday.
Driver Who Made the Chase Last Year and Will Not this Year: Ryan Newman ? Ryan (as with Tony Stewart) was huge surprise last year in his first year of a new team. However, ?The Rocketman? has lost his edge in qualifying in recent years and will not be able to fight from mid-pack to make the Chase. And yes Brian Vickers will also not make the Chase but where is the controversy in that?
Driver Who did not Make the Chase Last Year and Will Make it this Year: Matt Kenseth - Outside of Jimmy Johnson; Matt is the consistency king, I expect him to rebound nicely this year. Sorry JR Nation fans, Dale Jr. will be improved but he finishes 14th this year.
2010 Sprint Cup Champion: Kyle Busch ? Like him or hate him (and it is almost certainly one of the other, no middle ground here) it is easy to see the talent. And for a nice added bonus this writer does not see Jimmy Johnson coming in 2nd. That would be reserved for the ageless Mark Martin.
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