The time for excuses is over as we head to the third race of the season for NASCAR's top series. And for those drivers languishing from the middle of the standings back, it is go-time.
Sure, it may seem early to make such a statement with 24 races until the 10-week run for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
With few exceptions, those who get behind early on in the season seem to steep in a range that will end in disappointment unless they begin clicking off wins like Brad Keselowski did in 2011.
It is easy to toss out the Daytona 500 because of accidents and other weird happenings that can leave a driver deep in the points abyss.
Once the Cup drivers head to the second race of the season, it becomes apparent who may be the strongest players in the game.
There are five drivers who really need to amp up their performance, gain considerable points, and show that they are going to be contenders this season.
The Kobalt Tools 400 will reveal just how strong these drivers really might be in 2012.