“With all due respect, I didn’t realize you’d gotten experimental surgery to get your balls removed.” – Ricky Bobby
“That was a little harsh.”- Phil Young
“But I said with all due respect.”- Ricky Bobby
Thank you Ricky Bobby for that wonderful intro. The 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup is getting started on Sunday in Chicago and there are 12 drivers fighting for the title. The Chase has 4 drivers who have reached NASCAR’s highest peak and 8 more drivers who are hungry for their 1st championship. Can Tony Stewart repeat? Can Jimmie Johnson get his 6th title? Will we have a 1st time winner this season? Let’s try to answer some of those questions.
#11 Denny Hamlin (2012 pts) Current Vegas Odds 4/1
Hamlin is coming into the Chase strong with 2 wins in the last 3 races. He has the skill and the car to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Title. His crew is elite and Darian Grubb is one of the best chiefs in the biz. He is pretty much guaranteed to post great finishes at Martinsville and Phoenix and if he can stay near the top of the standings in the first half of the Chase, look for him to be the car to beat down the stretch.
The 5-time champion is a threat to win on any and every track in the Chase. He will post strong finishes on the 1.5 mile tracks and he should be at the top of the standings throughout the Chase. The only bump for him could be Talladega, but if he can avoid getting caught in the chaos on the super speedway he will be in position for his 6th title.
#14 Tony Stewart (2009 pts) Odds 12/1
Like Johnson, Stewart has had some disappointing Talladega finishes, but unlike Johnson he has won on all 10 Chase tracks. He was propelled to a title last year after winning the first 2 races and could very well do it again. Look for him to come out hot in Chicago and move up front with a great finish. He will be pressed to match his 5 wins from the Chase last season, but should be in line to post at least 2.
#2 Brad Keselowski (2009) Odds 9/1
Keselowski is a lot of people’s dark house pick for the Chase title and I agree, but it will be all about the finish for the Blue Deuce in this year’s chase. He will have some success on some of the early tracks, but he has not been strong on the finishing tracks in the Chase schedule. If he can stay near the top and not sputter too bad to the finish, he may be a contender.
#16 Greg Biffle (2006) Odds 12/1
Biffle is another driver that will live and die on the 1.5 mile tracks that will make up 4 of the last 6 races in the Chase. If he can post consistent finishes on the other 6 tracks, he can take the title win wins on the 1.5 mile tracks.
It will be all about the start for Clint Bowyer. If he can steal some wins early in the Chase, look for him to come into Kansas with some momentum. He will be a long shot to get his first title, but if he can stay out of trouble on his weaker tracks, he could surprise.
#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003) Odds 15/2
NASCAR’s most popular driver has his best shot at his 1st title, but I don’t see him ever getting one. He will have a strong car at every racetrack, but he rarely seems to get it up front consistently enough to win the Chase. The Chase will be won with wins and not top 5’s. Best chance for a win will be in Chicago or Talladega.
#17 Matt Kenseth (2003) Odds 14/1
Kenseth is another driver that will live and die on the 1.5 mile tracks that will make up 4 of the last 6 races in the Chase. If he can post consistent finishes on the other 6 tracks, he can take the title win wins on the 1.5 mile tracks.
Harvick needs a fast start to have a shot at the title. If he can get in a good position early, he can take advantage of his success on the tracks in the 2nd half. He doesn’t have a win this season, but he has very consistent all season. Homestead and Phoenix look good for him, so a strong finish would not be a surprise. Will he be within reach of the leaders to make it matter?
#56 Martin Truex Jr. (2000) Odds 20/1
He has a win at Dover, but other than that he has limited success at the other Chase tracks. He is a long shot to win and will probably finish 12th in the Chase standings.
#5 Kasey Kahne (2000) Odds 10/1
I don’t how the odds makers have Kahne at 10/1. I don’t think he has a chance to win this thing. He is far too inconsistent of a driver to get a title. Look for a strong finish at Charlotte or another 1.5 mile track, but other than that some 20+ finishes are coming for Kahne. He will battle Truex for the worst average finishes.
#24 Jeff Gordon (2000) Odds 9/1
Gordon has won at every Chase track except Homestead and has a career’s worth of solid finishes at all of them. He will be a threat for wins at Martinsville and Kansas, so if he is near the top at the mid-way point then watch out. He has the talent and the team to make a title run.
TSD 2012 CHAMPIONSHIP PICK:
Hamlin is coming in hot and will be able to put together enough wins and solid finishes to win his 1st Sprint Cup Title.
2012 Chase Races and Tracks
Geico 400 Chicago Last Year’s Winner: Tony Stewart
Sylvania 300 Loudon Tony Stewart
AAA 400 Dover Kurt Busch
GSRA Talladega Clint Bowyer
BOH 500 Charlotte Matt Kenseth
Hollywood Casino 400 Kansas Jimmie Johnson
Tums 500 Martinsville Tony Stewart
AAA 500 Texas Tony Stewart
Kobalt Tools 500 Phoenix Kasey Kahne
Ford EcoBlast 400 Homestead Tony Stewart