This is my list of top 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers to watch in 2011, given their current trends over the past three to five seasons. This is not based on any current adjustments to their respective teams, engines, cars or other factors currently internally or externally, such as the new points systems.
Now to my top 10 list of NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers, in no particular order:
- Jimmie Johnson (48) of the Chad Knaus/Hendrick Motorsports Team. He’s won five straight Sprint Cup championships and going for a sixth.
- Tony Stewart (14) of the Darian Grubb/Stewart-Haas Racing Team. He’s been mostly consistent remaining in 7th through the 9th in standings the past three years. He should do more of the same this season.
- Clint Bowyer (33) of the Shane Wilson/Richard Childress Racing Team. His team has not been consistent, but he’s always found ways to remain in the Chase. However, he has remained in the top 10 three out of five recent seasons.
- Jeff Gordon (24) of the Steve Letarte/Hendrick Motorsports Team. He’s been minimally the top 10 the past five years, if not in the top 5. He should do the same this season, as his team has always demonstrated success.
- Carl Edwards (99) of the Bob Osborne/Roush Fenway Racing Team. His team has either been in the top 3 or in the top 10 the past years, but he has demonstrated inconsistency. If football or hockey are indication the changing nature of sports, his team might have a chance for a real push this season.
- Denny Hamlin (11) of the Mike Ford/Joe Gibbs Racing Team. Since 2007, his team has been making real strides to becoming 2nd in the standings in 2010 again — like he was in 2006. Whereas some of these teams have been simply inconsistent, this team has been consistently getting better.
- Kyle Busch (18) of the Dave Rogers/Joe Gibbs Racing Team. He has always remained in the bottom rungs of the top 10 standings, but he has remained in the Chase for the past five years. He could be another one to watch out for this upcoming season.
For the last three of my top 10, these drivers are always within reach of the top 10 over the past years, and this year, they may be troublesome to rest the field for their shadows always hanging within reach to make a serious mark upon the Sprint Cup Chase.
- Jeff Burton (31) of the Todd Berrier/Richard Childress Racing Team.
- Matt Kenseth (17) of the Jimmy Fennig/Roush Fenway Racing Team.
- Kurt Busch (22) of the Steve Addington/Penske Racing Team. Although not quite as successful as his brother Kyle, he does stay within reach of the Chase.