Sprint Cup racing isn't quite the Grand National circuit of NASCAR's heyday. There are so many good teams these days that rampant fluctuation in the standings from year to year isn't just common, it's expected. A top team from the previous season is likely to fall to the edge of the Chase, as Denny Hamlin fell last year; meanwhile, a team that didn't do much last year could have the goods this year, a feat that Carl Edwards has managed more than once in his career.
Well, we're going to be optimists today and think about the drivers that should have a decent chance at improving on their 2011 results. A lot of these drivers seriously underachieved last year, so a shot at redemption in 2012 will be more than welcome for them all. And while a couple of them made the Chase, they both dropped off in a big way last year from where they were in 2010.
Without further ado, expect these 12 drivers each to step up their game in 2012: