Whitney's 2010 Championship Picks

Before a new season even gets underway it seems like fans begin to think about who will be championship contenders and who will actually win the championship. At Skirts and Scuffs we are doing exactly that. Today Whitney shares her picks.

I usually can't make a decision until at least a month after the season starts, but after all the events of last season, some drivers stood out to me as championship contenders for 2010. Here are my picks.

Sprint Cup Series - MATT KENSETH

I can just imagine many of you reading this thinking, “Whitney is out of her mind!” Well, it wouldn’t be the first time someone has thought that about me, but I truly believe Matt Kenseth will once again be back in the running for the championship in 2010.

Kenseth exploded onto the scene when the 2009 season started by winning the Daytona 500 and then the Auto Club 500 the very next week. Then during the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway an engine failure early in the race caused Kenseth to finish 43rd. That engine failure seemed to set the tone for the rest of his season. While Kenseth had quite a few bad performances, he managed to get seven top-fives and twelve top-tens in 2009, but it just was not enough to snag a spot in the Chase. It was the first time since the Chase began in 2004 that Kenseth failed to make it.

Some called it pure luck that Kenseth won the 2009 Daytona 500 thanks to the rain shortening it, and luck may have been part of it, but talent is what got him to the front. His talent is also what led him to his Winston Cup championship in 2003 when he only won a single race. However, for Kenseth to win the 2010 championship he will have to make a complete 180 from last season, and get back to being competitive race after race. The Hendrick drivers will be just as unstoppable as they were in 2009, and the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers proved they can hold their own against them. With those two organizations showing no signs of slowing down, Kenseth will have to work hard and give it all he’s got to make a run for the championship in 2010.

It could all just be wishful thinking on my part, but I believe Matt Kenseth will be a championship contender this season and go on to be the 2010 champion.

Nationwide Series - COLIN BRAUN

Colin Braun is a very talented young driver with a bright future ahead of him. He won Rookie of the Year in the Craftsman Truck Series in 2008 and finished 13th in points that year. He got his first Camping World Truck Series win at Michigan, and finished 5th in the standings in 2009. Braun might be a rookie coming into the Nationwide series, but that doesn’t mean getting behind the wheel of a Nationwide car will be a new experience for him. Last season, Braun qualified Carl Edwards’s #60 machine on weekends when Edwards was busy on the Cup side and couldn’t make it to Nationwide qualifying. He even managed to get the pole a few times for Edwards.

Some might say, “He’s just a rookie. He can’t possibly compete on the same level as drivers like Edwards or Kyle Busch.” I say those that think that are wrong. In 2008 during a race at O’Reilly Raceway Park, Braun started on the pole and finished second to none other than Kyle Busch. Of course, that is just one race and he’s only run 7 Nationwide races prior to 2010.

While the buzz around the rumor mill is that Kyle Busch may end up running the full Nationwide schedule, Braun still has a good chance of being a championship contender. He’ll definitely have to be on top of his game to compete with Busch or Edwards or any of the top performers in the Nationwide series. Braun has what it takes to run with the best in the series, and in 2010, I think he’s going to prove it. Can a rookie really win the Nationwide championship in 2010? Yes. If not, Braun will definitely be a contender for Rookie of the Year.

Camping World Truck Series - MATT CRAFTON

While he ultimately ended up 2nd in the 2009 points standings, Matt Crafton proved he is a very talented driver. Despite a few incidents of “aggressive driving” last season, Crafton held his own against Hornaday. Even when Hornaday had all but clinched the championship, Crafton never stopped giving it all he had. He finished outside the top ten only four times, and never finished outside the top twenty during the 2009 season. With no Chase in the Camping World Truck Series, that kind of consistency, if he can do it again in 2010, will undoubtedly make him a championship contender. He went winless in 2009, but I think this season will be different story for Crafton. However, Hornaday will definitely be a force to be reckoned with this season, and as the defending champion, he won’t be easily beat. Of course, you can’t count out Todd Bodine or Mike Skinner either. There’s a lot of talent among the NCWTS drivers, and the championship battle should be a good one. However, I think Crafton will come out on top.

I realize my championship picks might be a little far-fetched, well Crafton winning the NCWTS championship seems the most likely, but I can see the talent all three of these drivers possess. Even if none of them win a championship this season, I believe they’ll all at least prove just how talented they are. Of course, I could have made more obvious choices for the championships--such as Stewart for the Cup champion, Edwards as the Nationwide champion, and Hornaday repeats his championship run in the truck series. At any rate, I wish Kenseth, Braun, and Crafton best of luck in 2010, and hopefully I’ll see one--or maybe all!--of them holding up a championship trophy after the checkered flag flies at Homestead!

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the writer and may not reflect those of Skirts and Scuffs or it's other contributors
Photos via NASCARMedia

Whitney's 2010 Championship Picks Whitney's 2010 Championship Picks Reviewed by Whitney R. on Sunday, February 07, 2010 Rating: 5