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Who’ll Win It? NASCAR 2010 Season Predictions

2010 is supposed to start a new era for NASCAR – but Jimmie Johnson may have something to say before we’re all said and done. No amount of “Let Boys Be Boys” rhetoric keeps Johnson from being the overwhelming favorite for a fifth title with both fans and the media. But as the season gets underway, there’s several other compelling storylines blowing JJ’s Quest For History out of the water. Your favorite experts take a look at each one, give out their Rookie of the Year picks and more as our Season Preview series closes with everyone looking into their crystal ball.

2010 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
Expert Tom Bowles Matt Taliaferro Toni Montgomery
Title Editor-In-Chief Senior Editor Senior Editor
1st Jimmie Johnson Jimmie Johnson Tony Stewart
2nd Matt Kenseth Denny Hamlin Jimmie Johnson
3rd Jeff Gordon Mark Martin Jeff Gordon
4th Carl Edwards Carl Edwards Denny Hamlin
5th Mark Martin Jeff Gordon Mark Martin
6th Juan Pablo Montoya Tony Stewart Carl Edwards
7th Tony Stewart Kyle Busch Ryan Newman
8th Denny Hamlin Matt Kenseth Greg Biffle
9th Joey Logano Greg Biffle Kasey Kahne
10th Kyle Busch Kurt Busch Joey Logano
11th Clint Bowyer Jeff Burton Matt Kenseth
12th Jeff Burton Juan Pablo Montoya Marcos Ambrose
First Driver Fired Aric Almirola Sam Hornish Jr. Scott Speed
Rookie of the Year Kevin Conway Kevin Conway Kevin Conway
Why They Picked How They Did I originally had Martin winning the title with Johnson second and Hamlin third. But Hendrick’s push to boost Junior at Martin’s expense combined with Hamlin’s torn ACL scared me off. I guess that’s why Johnson always ends the year on top – bad luck always seems to find its way to someone else. Johnson and the boys haven’t given us a reason not to pick them in four years, so why start now? The new car specs could level out the competition level a bit, though – that bears keeping in mind. After a strong first season, Stewart’s team gets even stronger in year two. And Johnson can’t possibly win every year, can he?
2010 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
Expert Bryan Davis Keith Amy Henderson Tony Lumbis
Title Senior Editor Senior Editor Marketing Director
1st Jimmie Johnson Denny Hamlin Carl Edwards
2nd Denny Hamlin Mark Martin Jimmie Johnson
3rd Mark Martin Jimmie Johnson Mark Martin
4th Jeff Gordon Tony Stewart Tony Stewart
5th Tony Stewart Kurt Busch Jeff Gordon
6th Juan Pablo Montoya Jeff Gordon Kyle Busch
7th Carl Edwards Kyle Busch Matt Kenseth
8th Greg Biffle Greg Biffle Clint Bowyer
9th Clint Bowyer Carl Edwards David Reutimann
10th Matt Kenseth Clint Bowyer Dale Earnhardt Jr.
11th Kyle Busch Matt Kenseth Kurt Busch
12th Kasey Kahne Ryan Newman Denny Hamlin
First Driver Fired Aric Almirola Aric Almirola Casey Mears
Rookie of the Year Kevin Conway Kevin Conway Terry Cook
Why They Picked How They Did I’ve picked Jimmie every year since 2006. If it ain’t broke…. Hamlin showed that he can put together a strong Chase run late in the game in 2009. This year, he’ll start as strong as he finished and with his priorities placed singularly on the title, he’ll get it done – and bring Joe Gibbs his first title since 2000. Jack Roush has shown the ability to bounce back strong from disappointing seasons in the past, and I think he will do it again. Edwards will be back with a vengeance in 2010 to finally take the title he has contended for during most of his career thus far. Earnhardt Jr. will come through on Lance McGrew’s prediction, while David Reutimann is this year’s surprise, as new teammate Martin Truex Jr. will help the No. 00 team reach the next level.
2010 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
Expert Mike Lovecchio Phil Allaway S.D. Grady
Title Senior Editor Newsletter Editor Newsletter Editor
1st Jimmie Johnson Tony Stewart Mark Martin
2nd Kyle Busch Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon
3rd Denny Hamlin Mark Martin Kyle Busch
4th Carl Edwards Jeff Gordon Jimmie Johnson
5th Tony Stewart Denny Hamlin Juan Pablo Montoya
6th Mark Martin Carl Edwards Tony Stewart
7th Ryan Newman Kurt Busch Carl Edwards
8th Juan Pablo Montoya Matt Kenseth Clint Bowyer
9th Jeff Gordon Kyle Busch Ryan Newman
10th Clint Bowyer Kasey Kahne Kurt Busch
11th Kurt Busch Jamie McMurray Denny Hamlin
12th Greg Biffle Joey Logano Brad Keselowski
First Driver Fired Kevin Conway Elliott Sadler Kyle Busch (suspended)
Rookie of the Year No One! Kevin Conway Kevin Conway
Why They Picked How They Did I’ve learned my lesson the past two years and am picking Johnson… which, of course, means he won’t win it. I expect the Gibbs camp to be strong and the biggest threat to the Hendrick camp, but I also expect RCR to rebound and put at least one car in the Chase. Honestly, until news came out that Hamlin tore his ACL, I thought he would be the one to usurp Johnson. However, I still believe that Johnson won’t win it again this year. Why? Distractions. Jimmie’s wife, Chandra is pregnant with their first child. Also, and probably more importantly, crew chief Chad Knaus and Hendrick Motorsports still haven’t reached a contract extension – and it may hurt Chad’s overall focus. The Hendrick Chase Machine is still in one piece. I really don’t want to undergo another “record-breaking” season by watching the No. 48 do it all over again, so I’m hoping Martin finally manages to make it to the altar this year. However, I can see Kyle Busch also pulling it together. He’s had a few years to act the teenager. That should be out of his system. How much noise would there be if he took a bow on the stage in Homestead? Ultimately though, I pray for a year where something completely unpredictable brings about a champion who we just didn’t see coming.
2010 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
Expert Beth Lunkenheimer Vito Pugliese Matt McLaughlin
Title Assistant Editor Senior Writer Senior Writer
1st Kurt Busch Jimmie Johnson Kyle Busch
2nd Jimmie Johnson Kyle Busch Jimmie Johnson
3rd Tony Stewart Mark Martin Carl Edwards
4th Jeff Gordon Denny Hamlin Jeff Gordon
5th Mark Martin Carl Edwards Mark Martin
6th Denny Hamlin Juan Pablo Montoya Tony Stewart
7th Carl Edwards Greg Biffle Ryan Newman
8th Ryan Newman Tony Stewart Matt Kenseth
9th Juan Pablo Montoya Brian Vickers Greg Biffle
10th Clint Bowyer Jeff Burton Juan Pablo Montoya
11th Kevin Harvick Matt Kenseth Denny Hamlin
12th Matt Kenseth Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kurt Busch
First Driver Fired Terry Cook AJ Allmendinger Travis Kvapil
Rookie of the Year Kevin Conway Vito Pugliese (you never know) No One!
Why They Picked How They Did I know Kurt Busch seems like an odd decision with the dominance of the Johnson/Knaus pairing over the last four years, but something keeps nagging at me that this is the year for Busch to come in and break that streak. Despite the announcement of Pat Tryson’s departure and his subsequent barring from the race shop, Busch and the No. 2 team continued to show improvement and even managed one last win for the season at Texas Motor Speedway in November. Add to that improvement the entrance of Steve Addington, former crew chief for younger brother Kyle, and you’ve got a recipe for success. As inevitable as death and taxes, as reliable and stimulating as a Glock, and still the standard by which all others are measured. As long as the chemistry between Jimmie and Chad exists (and Knaus’s contract is set by midseason), expect the Drive for Five to be captured by the No. 48, not the No. 24. Admittedly, I like Kyle Busch about as much as warm beer and chamber music, but in a bout of wishful thinking I’d like to see someone other than a Roush or Hendrick driver take the title for the good of the sport. JGR is hardly an underdog, but at least the organization isn’t one of the big two. Maybe this year, Vile Kyle will finally show the barest modicum of maturity and concentrate on his day job. Yeah, and maybe this year I’ll will a Pulitzer. Suck it up, accept the inevitable, and realize there’s no compelling reason Johnson won’t win a fifth straight title this year. And that ought to be the monsoon that finally butts out the grand 61-year experiment that has been NASCAR’s premier touring series.
2010 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
Expert Doug Turnbull Mike Neff Danny Peters
Title Senior Writer Senior Writer Senior Writer
1st Jimmie Johnson Jimmie Johnson Jimmie Johnson
2nd Denny Hamlin Kyle Busch Jeff Gordon
3rd Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon Denny Hamlin
4th Tony Stewart Dale Earnhardt Jr. Mark Martin
5th Kyle Busch Juan Pablo Montoya Kyle Busch
6th Mark Martin Martin Truex, Jr. Carl Edwards
7th Carl Edwards Denny Hamlin Kurt Busch
8th Kasey Kahne Clint Bowyer Clint Bowyer
9th Clint Bowyer Kevin Harvick Greg Biffle
10th Matt Kenseth Carl Edwards Juan Pablo Montoya
11th Dale Earnhardt Jr. Matt Kenseth Dale Earnhardt Jr.
12th Greg Biffle David Reutimann Joey Logano
First Driver Fired Elliott Sadler Elliott Sadler No One
Rookie of the Year Kevin Conway Terry Cook No One!
Why They Picked How They Did Johnson rolls to a fifth straight championship. There’s no reason to believe he won’t. As long as Knaus is on the box, Johnson wins. Earnhardt Jr. passed his bad luck to Stewart and will take his place in the Chase. Truex shows that MWR has finally arrived in the sport. Until someone proves otherwise, how can Jimmie be anything but a prohibitive favorite to make it an unprecedented five straight?
2010 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
Expert Mike Ravesi John Potts Jared Turner
Title Senior Writer Senior Writer Website Contributor
1st Jimmie Johnson Tony Stewart Kyle Busch
2nd Carl Edwards Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon
3rd Tony Stewart Jimmie Johnson Jimmie Johnson
4th Jeff Gordon Kyle Busch Carl Edwards
5th Mark Martin Ryan Newman Tony Stewart
6th Matt Kenseth Carl Edwards Denny Hamlin
7th Jeff Burton Juan Pablo Montoya Matt Kenseth
8th Clint Bowyer Kurt Busch Jeff Burton
9th Greg Biffle Greg Biffle Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10th Ryan Newman Denny Hamlin Greg Biffle
11th Kurt Busch Matt Kenseth Mark Martin
12th Sam Hornish Jr. Marcos Ambrose Clint Bowyer
First Driver Fired Casey Mears Travis Kvapil Elliott Sadler
Rookie of the Year Kevin Conway Terry Cook Kevin Conway
Why They Picked How They Did Johnson will be unstoppable – again. I think you could toss the top seven into a bag and pick one out as a possible champion, but Tony’s an old friend and as far as I’m concerned he proved last year he has the team and the fire. The only question is how much help he will actually get from Hendrick if things get really tight between he, Newman and two or three in-house teams. With all due respect to Johnson, no driver and team hits it right every single year. For no other reason than the law of averages, Johnson’s run of consecutive titles will end at four. Kyle Busch’s talent will far supersede his temper in 2010 as he’ll snare an improbable championship with first-year crew chief Dave Rogers.
2010 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
Title Jimmie Johnson
1st Jeff Gordon
2nd Tony Stewart
3rd Mark Martin
4th Carl Edwards
5th Denny Hamlin
6th Kyle Busch
7th Matt Kenseth
8th Juan Pablo Montoya
9th Kurt Busch
10th Greg Biffle
11th Clint Bowyer
12th Elliott Sadler
First Driver Fired Kevin Conway
Rookie Of The Year We hate to jump on the media bandwagon, but Johnson gets our vote. Half of the 18 writers think he’ll be the champ and he easily outpaced Gordon and Stewart when we totaled up the votes. It looks like the ACL hurt Hamlin (only sixth in our poll) while those missing the Chase in our crystal ball include Earnhardt Jr., Newman, Burton and Kahne.

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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