After 10 races in the season, here is what my predicted Top 35 was, and how they are doing (and one driver I did not expect to be in the Top 35, but has ended up there so far)...
Out Top 35. Robby Gordon - The only reason why I did not put him in the initial Top 35 was because I did not know if he was going to run full or part time If I had known he was going to end up running full time, I would have put him in the Top 35. Since he seems to be running full time, putting Conway in the Top 35 was a bad idea
35. David Gilliland - About right so far. 35th in points my prediction, 35th in points right now.
34. Kevin Conway - Not surprised that is is outside the Top 35, but im more than surprised that he is making a good impression of the Carl Long's and Frank Kimmels of the early 00's, and being a moving chicane.
33. Regan Smith - Spot on for this one as well. 33rd in points, 33rd prediction
32. Travis Kvapil - Damn im good so far!
31. Bobby Labonte - Anyone want to come to me for points predictions?
30. Paul Menard - So far, he has surprised me big time. I figured if he was going to run better than this, that it would be barely Top 25. He is starting to fall in the points now, but he had an excellent start, at least by his standards.
29. Sam Hornish Jr. - 5 for 7 so far in the season!
28. Scott Speed - Starting to fall back some too, but it actually does not surprise me that he did as well as he has had done in some races. He has the talent, he just needed the team and time.
27. Elliott Sadler - It does not surprise me that he is down where he is in the standings. RPM had did the right thing by trying to fire him, its just those legal issues is keeping him in this car right now.
26. Jamie McMurray - His 19th in the standings is inflated due to his restrictor plate success so far. Take that out of the equation, and this would probably be a near spot on guess too.
25. Martin Truex Jr. - He hasn't done too badly, but some Michael Waltrip supported cars have had some reliability issues so far. He has gotten lucky, but will they eventually catch up to him?
24. David Reutimann - I said in the preseason anyone I predicted from 24th on up could have a Chase shot, some MWI reliability issues, and bad luck have hurt him so far, not to mention some people calling Reutimann's 2009 season a possible fluke.
23. David Ragan - Spot on so far. Could this soon be the end of the line for Ragan in this car?
22. Brad Keselowski - If it wasn't for Carl Edwards hissy fit at Atlanta, he would have at least 1 top 10, but he is looking more like a rookie, and less like the possible prodigy that some were looking to him as. But he is still young, he has a ways to go
21. Joey Logano - Has fallen back some after a nice start. I should expect him to climb back into Chase contention if his early start is an indication.
20. A.J. Allmendinger - Been fairly competitive, around where I expected him to be.
19. Jeff Burton - I only had him this low because I was basically "dartboarding" it, and RCR cars, at least in 2009, would of had me prediction he would of been one of the odd men out of the Chase. Very respectable season so far, should get a win or two.
18. Marcos Ambrose - 28th in points, only because of extremely bad luck. Without the crashes and mechanical problems, he would be better off in the points. Do not take this as his 2009 season being a fluke.
17. Ryan Newman - Done all right so far, has Stewart-Haas's only win of the season so far, but needs to pick it up if he wants to be in the Chase.
16. Clint Bowyer - Like Burton, I only had him this low because of how the RCR cars performed last season. Been fairly consistent, should make the Chase if he keeps it up
15. Kurt Busch - Looking like Dodge making Penske their only focus has been better than at least I was expecting. Then again, I said Busch could of been anywhere in the Top 15 or 20 due to Dodge only supporting Penske.
14. Juan Pablo Montoya - He has had good finishes, but he has also had bad luck. He is making the DEI-Ganassi cars look good, and as long as he can stay out of trouble, he should get the car back well into a Chase spot.
13. Greg Biffle - My gut said he could of been odd man out, but he has done pretty well so far. As long as he doesn't screw up, he should be in.
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - This guy is reading like an enigma. He has, for the most part, tried to keep his car out of trouble, but he just doesn't seem to be doing enough to put that team on the next level. If he doesn't do it soon, he could be in real trouble.
11. Kasey Kahne - The RPM cars seemed to look good at the start, but haven't done much lately. With other troubles possibly brewing at RPM, him bailing out could look like a good thing.
10. Brian Vickers - He has to pick it up. He should have the car, just not the luck so far. He did show that he could throw it in another gear, like last season before the Chase, so do not count him out yet.
9. Kevin Harvick - He is looking good, and as long as Jimmie gets flustered with his teammate (Jeff Gordon), Harvick could look like a real good possibility of getting Richard Childress his first championship since The Intimidator roamed.
8. Denny Hamlin - He has had his problems (his ACL), but he has done respectably well.
7. Carl Edwards - Looking day by day, more like a contender for just Chase spots, and not a Championship spot like he was a few years ago.
6. Mark Martin - Still doing well (Michael Schumacher, take notes from this guy), but I don't think, unless he has a complete character shift, and gets aggressive, will be competing for a championship.
5. Matt Kenesth - About where I expected him to be so far. Hasn't led a ton of laps, but he is back to his consistent self that everybody knew back in the middle of the 00's
4. Jeff Gordon - He is racing pissed off, but only at Jimmie Johnson. He applies that attitude for the rest of the field, and a mid-Top 10 season could very quickly become a championship season.
3. Tony Stewart - What the hell is going on here? He could still make it for a chase spot, but he has to pick it up. He has, historically, picked it up in the summer, so I am not giving up on him at least making the Chase yet.
2. Kyle Busch - Like Dale Jr., his season has made him a bit of an enigma too, but a better one. He could finally be realizing that he doesn't have to piss off every driver to get to the front, but he shouldn't lose all of that, just his attitude in certain situations.
1. Jimmie Johnson - He has won plenty already (3 races won), but the only reason why he isn't running away with it is part because he knows that now isn't the time yet to start owning the field, and part because that some drivers, mainly Jeff Gordon, have finally gotten tired of his winning. Should still have a very good shot of winning it all, but maybe come Chase time, drivers won't lay down for him.
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