Saturday, February 11, 2012

2012 Sprint Cup Preview Part I

We've dwindled down to just days until the boys (and girl) hit the beach running. I'm previewing the drivers and throwing in some predictions and WAGs. This first preview is for the Chevy drivers.

Hendrick Motorsports

#5, Kasey Kahne

% Chance he makes Chase... 80
+ (strengths) The 1.5 miles suit Kahne (and HMS) just fine.
- (weaknesses) Has never been a force on the plate tracks.
& He, like Dale Jr, brings along his favorite crew chief to HMS.
* Look for plenty of Jr's fans to jump on this bandwagon.

#24, Jeff Gordon

% Chance of making the Chase... 85
+ He's seen and done it all.
- Seems to have gotten complacent.
& His best days are behind him.
* When does the farewell tour begin?

#48, Jimmie Johnson

% Chance he makes the Chase... 100
+ Still the best team in the business.
- Due for some bad luck?
& Look for him to take last year's points result personally.
* Never out of it with the best crew chief in the game.

#88, Dale Earnhardt Jr

% Chance of making the Chase... 75
+ Still knows his way around the plate tracks.
- Losing streak lays heavier than a crown.
& Danica may give him a battle for Most Popular Driver award.
* Could this be the year? ....Uh, no.

Richard Childress Racing

#27, Paul Menard

% Chance of making Chase... 10
+ Finally has that first win.
- Don't expect the second one too soon.
& Has steadily improved every year.
* Lone Cup driver with inaugural win at Indy.

#29, Kevin Harvick

% Chance he makes Chase... 98
+ KHI going under allows him to focus on Cup championship.
- First child may take away some of that focus.
& Will we see the first maternity size crewwoman's suit?
* Face of RCR

#31, Jeff Burton

% Chance he makes the Chase... 20
+ Garage's elder statesman.
- Has he become too cautious to win again?
& Amazing that RCR kept him and let Bowyer get away.
* Just keeping the seat warm for Austin Dillon's impending arrival.

Stewart Haas Racing

#10, Danica Patrick

% Chance she makes Chase... 0. That's ever.
+ Sports Center every Sunday night.
- Lowest rated ad in the Super Bowl. Uh-oh.
& Is she helping or hurting other women from being taken seriously in racing?
* David Reutimann will drive 26 races in this car.

#14, Tony Stewart

% Chance of making Chase... 96
+ The reigning Champ!
- Will HMS keep delivering the good stuff?
& Zippy is back.
* Does he have another one in him?

#39, Ryan Newman

% Chance of making the Chase... 15
+ Capable of a hot streak.
- Way down the pecking order at HMS.
& New teammate thins out the resources.
* On the way out if he doesn't make the Chase.

Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing

#1, Jamie McMurray

% Chance of making Chase... 10
+ Great attitude.
- May be too nice.
& Needs to get off to a good start.
* Chip needs to build up this team to rival his Indy team.

#42, Juan Montoya

% Chance he makes the Chase... 10
+ Does not lack confidence.
- Becomes easily sidetracked.
& May be irrelevant after this year if he doesn't win.
* Should have been a superstar by now.

Phoenix Racing

#51, Kurt Busch

% Chance he makes Chase... 5
+ Past Champion's provisional.
- Self control.
& Will be a force in NW series.
* He'll be back!

Furniture Row Racing

#78, Regan Smith

% Chance of making Chase... 0
+ Knows his team's limitations.
- Small, one car team has an uphill struggle.
& The second win may take awhile.
* He's earning a better ride.


  1. Hmmmmm... Chevrolet... Isn't that a French word?

    Only two drivers in this group has a ZERO % chance of being in the Chase? And JPM is not one of them? I'll wager JPM has less of a chance than Regan Smith and Kurt Busch will push the envelope...

    After those items I'm thinking you're about right...

    Bowyer must have pulled Richard's chain or something... Letting him walk when he wanted to stay was a big mistake. Burton and Cat must be damned tight for Childress to hang with him...

    Last year I said going in Burton and Biffle were not going to be in the Chase and caught hell for it... Neither will be in the Chase again this year either...

    Thanks Gene!

  2. Hey Dwindy... Montoya could make the Chase if he goes back to the formula that got him in it a couple of years ago... settling for top-15 finishes. It worked.

    One thing that could hurt Kurt is the relationship between Phoenix and HMS. Former 51 driver, Landon Cassill was one of Hendrick's boys... Kurt probably won't see the level of equipment they had last year. Although, his level of talent could make up for that.

    Cat has to be the reason JB is still at RCR. Bowyer should have sponsors fighting over his services. I can't understand why he, and T Bayne, isn't doing more TV commercials than the Waltrips.

    I won't be surprised to see Biffle bounce back into the Chase this year. He's one of the top ten best drivers in Cup.

  3. Juan, despite what the media say, was never that brilliant in F1. Yes, he won a handful of races...but I don't recall any where he had to really fight for it. The fact is when he had his chance to win the title, in the best overall car, back in 2003 with Williams, he blew it.

  4. Tez... JPM has won races across more major series than anyone now (perhaps ever) racing in nascar. CART, Indy, F-1, Grand Am, Cup, NW.

    I'm not a huge fan of his, but several drivers and TV analysts are always bragging about Juan's car control. Of course, they said the same things about Robby Gordon, and I didn't see anything special about his stock car skills either. lol

  5. Alex Zanardi was just as good as Juan in CART and he bombed in F1 before and after CART so I have to believe he had the best equipment in CART...and therefore so did Juan as he was Alex's replacement.

    I'm not saying Montoya is useless, he's a very good driver....I just think the media here built him up to be miles better than what he actually is just because he 'won in F1'.

  6. I applaud your assessment of Danica...and yes, I think she is hurting other women coming into the sport - at least at NW and Cup levels.

    Kurt, not sure what to say here - he has good shot of winning at restrictor plate races but really really not buying his newfound ability to control his temper - I am 99% sure he went to 2 sessions if at all and no way does Finch have the mechanics/crew Penske had so I see Kurt's frustration boiling over by Fontana...

    I really hope JMac makes the Chase and JPM does not, I agree with Tez, overrated!

    All the HMS boys make it and Harv...probably Smoke too but with Addington who knows, thats a lot of changes over at SHR.

  7. Kristen... Kurt spoke about the differences in teams tonight on Race Hub. 18 employees at Phoenix compared to 400 at Penske. Wow! He tried to make it seem like a good thing. Running mid pack everywhere except the 3-4 fastest tracks will bring him down.

  8. What's funny is that "women" have bristled at being "objectified" and ogled as sex objects......and Danica has shaken her little ass all the way to a Sprint Cup ride. You go Girl !!