The Chase for the Sprint Cup is finally in full swing. Driver’s, crew members and team owners dream of the possibility of winning NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Championship and the achievement has become much more difficult since the inception of the Chase.
Only Jimmie Johnson (5 championships), Jeff Gordon (4 championships), Tony Stewart (3 championships), & Matt Kenseth have had the chance to take home the championship. Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin have all finished runner-up. That accounts for 7 of the 12 drivers in the chase that have finished in the top 2 in the Sprint Cup Championship.
Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kane and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have all had limited success in the chase, but it should not mean that they are not a threat for chase. We already know “Ole 5-time” is better than most at the chase tracks, racking up all 5 championships in consecutive years only to be beat last year by Tony Stewart. Tony was the last champion besides Jimmie, winning his 2nd championship of his career in 2005.
Jeff Gordon last finished 2nd or better in 2007 but does have a championship since 2001. Gordon barely made the chase this year but seemed to have it together until they raced Chicagoland. Bad luck struck Gordon again when his throttle stuck open and he pounded the wall. Gordon can still bounce back, but his chances will be based off the luck or lack of in the upcoming races.
Four drivers I believe have a legitimate chance to win the Sprint Cup Championship.
1. Jimmie Johnson…..just look at the statistics and you will see why 5 time is the favorite for a six pack.
2. Denny Hamlin…..after a heartbreaking 2nd place showing in the 2010 championship and a very troubled 2011 season, Hamlin has come back with new crew chief Darian Grubb and won 4 races this year earning the top spot entering the chase.
3. Brad Keselowski….. Brad is trying to improve his 3rd place best after making the chase for the 2nd time in his career, the other was last year when he made an awesome charge into the chase with several victories in the 2nd half of last season. Brad should be able to handle the pressure all the way to the end a proved to Hendricks #48 team that he would compete with them till the end.
4. Kasey Kane….. Kasey is a great first time pick, and believe it or not, this may be their best chance in many years. Even though Kasey is with a new race team, he still has the luxury of his long time crew chief Kenny Francis calling the shots and Mr. Hendrick’s pockets to dig out of. Kenny Francis is one of the most talented crew chiefs in Sprint Cup and has a lot to prove with the “Golden Opportunity” he and his driver finally have.
Chris Creighton is a member of the NASCAR media and a writer for RantSports.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @FlagofCaution for all the latest updates in the racing community.