NASCAR Nextel Cup Chase Predictions Revisited

1.16-Greg Biffle- This prediction was rather thwarting. I was sure that this was going to be Greg Biffle’s season. It’s not as if he has been flat out awful, but Biffle’s luck has been woeful to say the least, and he finds himself in 12th position in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings heading into the Chase for the Championship.

2.20-Tony Stewart- I didn’t envision Tony Stewart missing the Chase for the Championship, and I certainly was not alone. Stewart’s collapse at Richmond demoted him back to 11th in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings. Stewart will not fight for his second consecutive Nextel Cup title as I had anticipated.

3.12-Ryan Newman- If this was baseball, this would be my third strike and I would be out. I felt as if Newman would improve in his second season driving the Dodge Charger, but I was way off base here. In the past, no matter how bad things got for Newman and the 12 team, they found themselves in the top ten in the Nextel Cup standings. Well, not this year. He currently sits 17th in the championship standings, and even the 11th place consolation prize is out of reach.

4.99-Carl Edwards- All of my top four picks missed the NASCAR Nextel Cup Chase for the Championship. I guess it’s time for a new crystal ball. Edwards was the hottest thing in NASCAR after the 2005 season ended, but his 2006 season deflated quickly with four finishes outside of the top 25 in this season’s first seven races. Edwards has been unable to uphold any momentum throughout the season, therefore, he finds himself buried back in 13th position in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings.

5.48-Jimmie Johnson- Finally, I got one right. Jimmie Johnson is one of three drivers to qualify for the Nextel Cup Chase for the Championship in all three seasons since 2004. Only Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin have accomplished that feat. Johnson will enter the Chase for the Championship in the 2nd position in the Nextel Cup standings.

6.17-Matt Kenseth- Two for six. Kenseth has probably been the number one driver all season long based on performance. He now owns the top spot in the Nextel Cup standings heading into the championship run. And most analysts feel as if Kenseth is the man to beat.

7.24-Jeff Gordon- Jeff Gordon nearly missed the Chase for the Championship again after his breaks started to fail at Richmond. Much to the chagrin of the Gordon-haters, he was able to hang on and will now chase his fifth title. Even if Gordon doesn’t capture the Nextel Cup championship, the season will be considered as a cosmic improvement from 2005 when he missed the Chase for the Championship. Gordon will begin the championship chase 9th in the Nextel Cup standings.

8.2-Kurt Busch- It seemed like a lucid pick at the time. Kurt Busch was the 2004 Nextel Cup champion, and I didn’t feel as if his move to Penske Racing would be this much of a downgrade. At times, Busch has performed respectably in the famous 2 car, but like his teammate Newman, he often loses the handle on the intermediate-style racetracks. Busch is currently 14th in the Nextel Cup standings.

9.6-Mark Martin- Martin is performing at the level that I predicted. He has been adequate, but not quite at the level he was at in 2004 and 2005. Martin squeezed in the Nextel Cup Chase for the Championship without a win to his credit. Martin will begin his championship run 7th in the Nextel Cup championship standings.

10.8-Dale Earnhardt Jr- I just couldn’t see NASCAR’s most admired driver outside of the Chase for the Championship picture for the second season in a row. Earnhardt Jr has vastly improved from his disastrous 2005 season in which he finish 19th in the Nextel Cup standings. Earnhardt is 6th in the Nextel Cup championship standings heading into the Chase.

11.29-Kevin Harvick- Yes, I predicted 11 drivers to make the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Chase for the Championship. No, it didn’t happen, but Harvick did revitalize his once dubious career at Richard Childress Racing. My prediction was based on the fact that Childress’ operation couldn’t possibly miss the Chase for the Championship three years successive. Harvick begins the Chase for the Championship as one of the unambiguous favorites. He is currently third in the Nextel Cup standings.

Other Chasers

Kyle Busch- I predicted him to barely miss the cut. (12th)

Denny Hamlin- I knew he would be the rookie to beat in NASCAR, but I had no idea he would be championship caliber. (19th)

Jeff Burton- I guess I was just judging by his previous four seasons. Burton is definitely back in the thick of the championship hunt. (20th)

Kasey Kahne- I really thought that he was going to fizzle out like Casey Atwood. Boy, was I wrong. (15th)

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