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.
#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.
#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.
#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.