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The White Flag writes:
"2011 Chase For The Championship Preview and Predictions"
Posted by Cooper on September 12, 2011
Viewed 515 times


In my opinion, 2011 has been one of the most thrilling, exciting, and exhilarating seasons that NASCAR has seen in recent memory. And it's because of this, that I believe this years chase will be no different. Whether it's been the first time winners, the wacky race strategies, or the constant rivalries on and off the track, this season has kept NASCAR fans on their toes and we can only hope that this will continue for the next 10 races. I know NASCAR has received a lot of flack for instituting a "playoff" as the way to determine it's champion but I think most of the blame is unwarranted. But that's a discussion for another time and place. So without further ado let me introduce to you, the twelve participants in this years chase for the Sprint Cup:

From Midlothian, Virginia; driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing: Denny Hamlin
From Rochester Hills, Michigan; driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing: Brad Keselowski
From Kannapolis, North Carolina; driver of the #88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
From Columbus, Indiana; driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing: Tony Stewart
From South Bend, Indiana; driver of the #39 U.S. Army/Tornadoes Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing: Ryan Newman
From Las Vegas, Nevada; driver of the #22 Pennzoil Dodge for Penske Racing: Kurt Busch
From El Cajon, California; driver of the #48 Lowes Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports: Jimmie Johnson
From Columbia, Missouri; driver of the #99 Aflac Ford for Roush Racing: Carl Edwards
From Cambridge, Wisconsin; driver of the #17 Crown Royal Ford for Roush Racing: Matt Kenseth
From Pittsboro, Indiana; driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger/DuPont Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports: Jeff Gordon
From Bakersfield, California; driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing: Kevin Harvick
From Las Vegas, Nevada; driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing: Kyle Busch

Standings After Richmond (Rank/Driver/Points)
1. Kyle Busch 2012
2. Kevin Harvick 2012
3. Jeff Gordon 2009
4. Matt Kenseth 2006
5. Carl Edwards 2003
6. Jimmie Johnson 2003
7. Kurt Busch 2003
8. Ryan Newman 2003
9. Tony Stewart 2000
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2000
11. Brad Keselowski 2000
12. Denny Hamlin 2000

The following, is the breakdown of each drivers racetrack type average finish this season. Its weight is determined by the number of races that each racetrack type has in the chase. These rankings will give you some expectations on where a certain driver will be strong or weak.

Kyle Busch(16.0), Kevin Harvick(18.0), Jeff Gordon(12.3), Matt Kenseth(24.0), Carl Edwards(15.0), Jimmie Johnson(16.0), Kurt Busch(12.3), Ryan Newman(23.3), Tony Stewart(13.7), Dale Earnhardt Jr.(15.7), Brad Keselowski(25.7), Denny Hamlin(19.0)

Ranking: 1.Gordon/Ku.Busch 3. Stewart 4. Edwards 5. Earnhardt Jr. 6. Johnson/Ky.Busch 8. Harvick 9. Hamlin 10. Newman 11. Kenseth 12. Keselowski

Short Track---Weight=1(Martinsville)
Kyle Busch(5.0), Kevin Harvick(8.4), Jeff Gordon(12.8), Matt Kenseth(12.0), Carl Edwards(7.2), Jimmie Johnson(11.4), Kurt Busch(13.4), Ryan Newman(13.2), Tony Stewart(19.4), Dale Earnhardt Jr.(12.8), Brad Keselowski(17.2), Denny Hamlin(12.6)

Ranking: 1.Ky.Busch 2. Edwards 3. Harvick 4. Johnson 5. Kenseth 6. Hamlin 7. Gordon/Earnhardt Jr. 9. Newman 10. Ku.Busch 11. Keselowski 12. Stewart

Intermediate---Weight=5(Chicago, Kansas, Charlotte, Texas, Homestead)
Kyle Busch(20.3), Kevin Harvick(12.0), Jeff Gordon(15.7), Matt Kenseth(7.8), Carl Edwards(5.8), Jimmie Johnson(10.7), Kurt Busch(7.5), Ryan Newman(14.8), Tony Stewart(9.0), Dale Earnhardt Jr.(12.5), Brad Keselowski(12.8), Denny Hamlin(9.0)

Ranking: 1. Edwards 2. Ku.Busch 3. Kenseth 4. Stewart/Hamlin 6. Johnson 7. Harvick 8. Earnhardt Jr. 9. Keselowski 10. Newman 11. Gordon 12. Ky.Busch

Mini Intermediate--Weight=3(Loudon, Phoenix, Dover)
Kyle Busch(14.0), Kevin Harvick(11.7), Jeff Gordon(9.7), Matt Kenseth(11.0), Carl Edwards(16.0), Jimmie Johnson(5.7), Kurt Busch(10.7), Ryan Newman(9.0), Tony Stewart(12.7), Dale Earnhardt Jr.(12.3), Brad Keselowski(21.0), Denny Hamlin(10.0)

Ranking: 1. Johnson 2. Newman 3. Gordon 4. Hamlin 5. Ku.Busch 6. Kenseth 7. Harvick 8. Earnhardt Jr. 9. Stewart 10. Ky.Busch 11. Edwards 12. Keselowski

Race by Race Breakdown Predictions:
Chicago---Winner: Carl Edwards
Loudon---Winner: Jimmie Johnson
Dover---Winner: A.J. Allmendinger
Kansas---Winner: Jeff Gordon
Charlotte---Winner: Kurt Busch
Talladega---Winner: Kevin Harvick
Martinsville---Winner: Denny Hamlin
Texas---Winner: Carl Edwards
Phoenix---Winner: Kyle Busch
Homestead---Winner: Carl Edwards

In my opinion, the championship will be won on the intermediates and the mini intermediates. The Top 5 drivers between these two types of tracks are: Johnson, Hamlin, Ku.Busch, Kenseth and Edwards

So here are my predictions for this years Chase:
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Sorry Jr. fans, he backed into the chase and hasn't looked competitive since the Spring)
11. Brad Keselowski (Inexperience will hurt him. He has the capability to have some good runs, but I just see other teams stepping their performance up.)
10. Ryan Newman (He'll step onto the stage in November. Won't challenge for the Championship but he should have some good decent runs.)
9. Tony Stewart (Just hasn't shown enough to be a challenger. He might win one race in the chase but he just looks old to me.)
8. Kyle Busch (Awesome driver but he is ranked last on the Intermediates. Nothing against driver, just his team.)
7. Jeff Gordon (Other than his great run at Atlanta, Jeff struggles at the Intermediates. He's been on a hot streak so this might propel that team to greater things.)
6. Denny Hamlin (Surprise of the chase. He proved last year that he is an elite driver. The team has some momentum and they are very good on the tracks that matter.)
5. Ku. Busch (Hungry driver with great stats on the Intermediates and the Mini Intermediates, I like him this year)
4. Kevin Harvick (Consistent. I don't see him ripping off two or three wins in the next ten races. He'll get a lot of top tens and hang around until Homestead.)
3. Matt Kenseth (Challenger. Real Strong. This team will silently kill the competition at the 1.5 milers and he'll pile up a ton of top fives. Martinsville and Talladega will bite this team. Trust me.)
2. Jimmie Johnson (He's the man, but the Fords are too strong. Him and Carl Edwards will go head to head all the way to Homestead.)
1. Carl Edwards (He's my favourite. Great equipment, great talent and has shown to be the best this year. They tried a lot of R&D during the summer and I expect them to show up stronger in the fall. Carl wins at Homestead to win the championship by a couple of points.)

I used statistics from the season maybe a little too much. Obviously Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski slow starts have skewed their statistics a little bit. But I'll stand behind my predictions.

Hopefully you enjoyed some of my banter. This years chase will be one of the best, especially when my predictions and hypotheses´┐Ż?? gets flushed down the proverbial toilet. Oh well. Thanks for reading and don't be scared to throw your predictions and insults at me. That's what I want.

Leave your comments here or you can tweet me @Cooperfect.

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