By admin | January 2, 2011
By Richard Allen
I like to begin each year with some predictions for the coming NASCAR season. Sometimes I get them right and often times I get them wrong. But undaunted, I will try once again. So, here goes:
2011 Sprint Cup champion: I am going to start with the easy one. As I have said many times, there is no reason to pick anyone other than Jimmie Johnson to win the Sprint Cup title until it is proven that he can be beaten. Some might say it is time for the Hendrick Motorsports team to finally run out of luck. Problem with that theory is that Johnsonâ€™s crew has not relied on luck to win five consecutive championships.
No doubt, drivers such as Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick will challenge Johnson, but in the end, I am going to predict that he will win his sixth title in a row.
Most race wins: A number of drivers come to mind when thinking about who will win the most races in 2011. Johnson, Hamlin, Harvick and Kyle Busch could certainly pile up a number of victories. However, I am going to go with what might be considered a bit of a long shot.
Carl Edwards won the final two races of 2010 and really looked like he and his crew were coming together after a season of struggle for those who campaigned for the Ford Motor Company. That momentum should propel this driver and team to a good season in 2011. So, Edwards is my pick to win the most races in 2011.
Daytona 500: Unlike most other sports, NASCAR begins its season with the biggest event on their schedule. Winning this race can make a driverâ€™s season a success no matter what else happens the rest of the way. Jamie McMurray can attest to that.
Last year, the hot ticket on the restrictor plate tracks was the Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engine. Those power plants won every plate race in 2010. Even with that said, I am going to go in a different direction.
Jeff Gordon will be driving his first race with crew chief Alan Gustafson. This driver has already accumulated six wins at the Daytona International Speedway, including three Daytona 500s. The track has been newly repaved and it seems as though such a big change ought to play into the hands of HMS, the sportâ€™s most well financed organization.
I predict that Gordon will capture his fourth victory in the â€˜Great American Raceâ€™.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Normally a driver of such mediocre credentials would not warrant his own heading in a pre-season prediction piece. However, the sportâ€™s most popular driver is typically at the center of many conversations even with sub-par statistics.
In 2011, Junior will have a new crew chief. Trouble with that is, he has already had one change atop his pit box while at HMS with no improvement and his new chief, Steve Letarte, did not win much with Jeff Gordon so there is little reason to believe Junior will fare any better. There may be some improvement but I do not believe a banner season is in the future for the popular driver.
Drivers who will make the Chase for the Championship(considering that the Chase will consist of 12 drivers): Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart andÂ JamieÂ McMurrayÂ will make the Chase.
Well, there they are. A few predictions for NASCAR 2011. Some will be right and some will not. Please feel free to offer your own thoughts.
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