|RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 10: (Back row L-R) Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, Kurt Busch, driver of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Power of Pride Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, (front row L-R) Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevrolet, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kellogg's/Cheez-it Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 U.S. Army-9/11 Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Amp Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Ollie's Bargain Outlet Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, pose after clinching spots in the 'Chase for the Sprint Cup' following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 10, 2011 in Richmond, Virginia. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)|
When The Chase starts this weekend in Chicago, many of the usual players will be involved. Defending Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart will be trying to repeat. Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick have both made The Chase again but still seeking their first Cup, and Jimmie Johnson will be trying to become a 6-Time Champion. What about Dale Jr. ? He's had the most consistent season of his career since joining Hendrick Motorsports. Could this be the year that he finally joins his dad in being called "Champ" ? In two months, we'll find out, but today The Sheepdog is gonna give his pick as to who will win the 2012 Sprint Cup.
The following twelve drivers qualified for The Chase. They are listed in order by seed, name, number of wins (if any), and by how may points they'll start The Chase trailing number one seeded Denny Hamlin :
- 1st seed - Denny Hamlin, 4 wins
- 2nd (tied) - Jimmie Johnson, 3 wins, -3 points
- 2nd (tied) - Tony Stewart, 3 wins, -3 points
- 2nd (tied) - Brad Keselowski, 3 wins, -3 points
- 5th (tied) - Greg Biffle, 2 wins, -6 points
- 5th (tied) - Clint Bowyer, 2 wins, -6 points
- 7th (tied) - Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 1 win, -9 points
- 7th (tied) - Matt Kenseth, 1 win, -9 points
- 9th (tied) - Kevin Harvick, -12 points
- 9th (tied) - Martin Truex, Jr., -12 points
- 11th Wildcard - Kasey Kahne, 2 wins, -12 points
- 12th Wildcard - Jeff Gordon, 1 win, -12 points
- Kasey Kahne - has been bitten repeatedly by bad luck this year.
- Martin Truex, Jr. - drives for Michael Waltrip Racing. Nuff said.
- Clint Bowyer - great driver but also drives for Michael Waltrip Racing. His goose is cooked.
- Matt Kenseth - has had poor performances and bad luck in previous Chases - it will continue.
- Greg Biffle - always chokes in the Chase. He's a lot like Peyton Manning was in college - he can't win the big game.
- Jimmie Johnson - I'm sure many are already yelling at their computer and saying, "Sheepdog, you're out of your mind !!" Am I ? Johnson has had more bad luck and mechanical failures this year than in previous seasons. I think it will continue in The Chase. No "Mr. 6-Time" this year.
- Denny Hamlin - The ones that didn't yell at their computer over my Jimmie Johnson prediction are yelling now. You guys (and gals) just chill out and hear me out. Even though Denny has won more races (4) this year than any other driver, he always blows it in The Chase - always. So, even if he's still in the hunt going into Homestead in the last race, he'll find a way to lose it again there. It'll be more heartbreak for Denny this year. Maybe he should stick to golf.
|NASCAR auto racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks with members of the press at Hendrick Motorsports headquarters outside Charlotte, N.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia|
Kevin Harvick has just narrowly missed winning a couple of Sprint Cup Championships. He's driven to be the best, and he's hungry to win not only races but also titles. Another thing going for him is that his car owner, Richard Childress, has won championship after championship in NASCAR, including six with Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel of his cars. He knows what it takes, and Harvick knows what it takes just to get in the position to have the opportunity to win one. If these guys win a race or two during The Chase, Harvick could pick up his first title as a driver and Childress could pick up his 7th as a car owner. However, they have to win races to pull it off. For us who have followed NASCAR for years, it would be nice to see Childress win another one, and I suspect The Intimidator would be grinning when it's over.
Brad Keselowski is one of the hardest charging drivers in the Sprint Cup Series today. If the checkered flag is in sight and within reach, you better get out of this dude's way. Kyle Busch found that out this year and in incidents with Keselowski in years past. Keselowski is also backed by an owner, Roger Penske, that knows how to win titles. If you're a gambler who likes a Cinderella story, Keselowski might be your guy for this Chase.
|English: Tony Stewart, NASCAR, Stewart-Haas Racing, Sprint Cup Series, Chevy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
I'm picking Tony Stewart to win the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship for one main reason - the dude just finds a way to win. In winning the championship last year, he didn't win a single race before The Chase started. Then, he won 5 of the 10 Chase races. When the season ends at the checkered flag in Homestead, Stewart will have back to back championships and his fourth overall tying Jeff Gordon for fourth on the all-time list.
Now, come Sunday it will be time to sit back, and see if I get it right. Hopefully, I'll be more successful with this prognostication than I was last year with the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl. Man, that was a debacle.