Whether you like The Chase for the Sprint Cup format or not, it’s here for 2010

Dale Wilkerson                                                 September 2010

Yes, it is time for The Chase again. Race fans are getting excited in hopes of a door slamming, fender bending, and wall rubbing battle that will surely make Cole Trickle’s win at Daytona in the movie Days of Thunder look like just a another ride on the bump cars at the county fair.
For the folks that like the sounds of the above, the good news is The Chase begins at Loudon, but for those of us who like good racing, the bad news is The Chase begins at Loudon.
I am not a fan of the track I call the pancake. The straight-a-ways are too long for the corners to be that flat. This track was built for Indy Cars and the IRL will be returning next year, but for NASCAR racing a lot of work, or banking, needs to be put in place here.
Looking at The Chase drivers, Chevy has half the chase spots. Dodge has one, Toyota two and three to the Roush Fusion’s. So is there a clear cut favorite? Perhaps there is three.
Jimmy Johnson could make it five in a row and it is hard not to just pick him straight up and declare that the remaining eleven drivers are hoping to run second. The talking gear heads keep saying his team has lost something, but I think they should wait three or four races before ruling him out. His teammate Jeff Gordon could get on a hot streak, but we have expected that all season.
Richard Childress could see his first title by way of The Chase. Kevin Harvick has led the points most of the year. Jeff Burton is very consistent and if any driver likes Loudon it would be him. Clint Bowyer ran up front all night at Richmond to make sure he qualified for The Chase, look for him to make a move early.
The lone Dodge in The Chase is driven by Kurt Busch, and with just three MOPAR products competing at the Sprint Cup level, it would be an awesome feat if he could win his second championship.
Kurt Busch won his that first championship while driving a Roush Ford back in 2005. Roush has three cars in The Chase this year and fans of the blue oval would like a championship, especially since they only have one (that’s 1) win to crow about this season.
That leaves the Toyotas of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Hamlin was the pre-season favorite while most folks still refer back to the collapse of 2008 when Kyle Busch is mentioned in the championship run. Hamlin looks like Mr. Cool entering The Chase with the most wins but think back, Hamlin is one bad pit stop from having a, well for lack of a better term, Kyle Busch fit.
Hamlin has a temper and if his team doesn’t meet his expectations he has been known to throw them under the hood at times. That temper could be the factor that keeps Hamlin for claiming a title.
So can anyone keep Jimmy Johnson from adding another championship to his trophy case? Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick could be the ones. Both drivers have Nationwide Series championships on their resumes where both of these drivers claimed the title by dropping the hammer and winning races. When the green flag waves at Homestead, it could be a three horse race this year.
Okay my pick for the 2010 Sprint Cup Champion is: Kyle Busch who will claim at least three wins during The Chase.
Will I be surprised if Jimmy Johnson wins number five? Not really. Will I be surprised if a Ford wins the title? Yes, I would probably have the same look on my face as Aunt Bea did when she came home and the living room was spotless.
The Chase should be fun to watch this season, especially after the checkered flag has waved after race one.