Is anybody else excited for the racing to begin? We are! In preparation for the 2010 season our team of contributors have been making their picks for the NASCAR Series Champions.
Today Katy shares her predictions for 2010. Let her know what you think of her picks in the comments below.
Sprint Cup Series - KURT BUSCH
I like Kurt Busch's chances for 2010 given his strong 2009. Kurt might not be at the top of most people's favorite driver list, but let's not forget this guy was the Nextel Cup Champion back in the inaugural season of the Chase format. In 2009 he had his best season since '04 and finished forth in the points behind the Hendrick teams of Johnson, Martin and Gordon earning two wins and 21 top 10's.
In 2010 Kurt has the potential to become series champion yet again. The addition of Steve Addington as crew chief to the #2 and Brad Keselowski as his teammate could give Kurt what he needs to break past the Hendrick domination and give Penske their first Cup Series Championship.
Nationwide Series – JUSTIN ALLGAIER
I’ll admit it. I’ve changed my pick for Nationwide Series Champ at least half a dozen times. I tossed the Keselowski and Edwards choices around for a week. Finally chose Edwards and yet here I am again making a change.
I’m sorry. I love seeing Cup guys in the Nationwide Series if for no other reason than it makes the Nationwide regulars try harder. For a NNS regular to beat the likes of Busch, Edwards, or one of a dozen other drivers is a good thing. They can say they raced against some of the best in the business and came out on top.
Unfortunately, having them run full schedules and constantly come out on top (Harvick, Edwards, Bowyer, and Busch have won the last 4 seasons) is stifling the up and coming talent. Drivers who should be getting the attention are looked over because they aren’t a Kyle Busch or a Carl Edwards. I can’t begin to imagine what goes on in the mind of a NASCAR driver, but you have to think the Nationwide regulars just hope the Cup boys will take a weekend off so they have a chance to claim some of the spotlight.
In 2010 I am looking for a Nationwide Series regular to reclaim the title of Champion. It won’t be easy for him, but the driver I am putting my money on is Justin Allgaier.
Allgaier showed tremendous potential in 2009 in Penske Racing’s first full season in the Nationwide Series. Capturing one pole and 12 top 10 finishes, the 2008 ARCA Champion is the best non Cup candidate, in my opinion. Having Brad Keselowski as a teammate certainly won’t hurt matters. Keselowski has finished third in the standing for the last two seasons and has experience on his side.
Camping World Truck Series - MATT CRAFTON
I get it! Ron Hornaday Jr. is awesome. He's the only guy who has won five races in a row in the truck series. He's the only guy who has won four Truck Series titles. He deserves props for that. He might be awesome but, he didn't win the most races in 2009. He didn't even have the highest average finish. Both of those honors went to Busch, but because of his part-time schedule he had no chance of beating Hornaday in the points.
With Hornaday's crew chief Rick Ren heading over to KBM as the director of competition, it's gonna take ol' Ron a while to get back in the groove of things. And while I would love to see Kyle run the trucks full-time for one season, it won't be this season.
I know next to nothing about Matt Crafton other than he finished second in the points in 2009 and that he only has one career victory to his name. I still like his chances though, especially with Roush-Fenway pulling out of the truck series. Crafton got a lot of attention for what happened at Gateway, but what impressed me the most was how he didn't back down when everyone was calling for his head on a platter. I’m going to be the first to go against the grain and pick Matt Crafton as my choice for Camping World Truck Series Champ. (Side note: Did you hear Matt Crafton on Next Time By with Summer Dreyer and Mike Patrick? You can listen to Tuesday night’s podcast here.)
Even I am surprised by some of my picks. It's hard to choose a possible Championship winner or even a contender before the season begins. One thing's for sure, though, I'm ready for that command to start engines!
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and may not reflect those of this site or its other contributors.
Photos courtesy of NASCARMedia and ThorSport Racing