Drivers Most Likely to Win 1st Career Sprint Cup Title in 2014

Chad Robb@@MrFantasyNASCARCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2013

Drivers Most Likely to Win 1st Career Sprint Cup Title in 2014

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    Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

    The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is right around the corner and many drivers hope this will be their year to win their first career Sprint Cup title.

    Jimmie Johnson is the odds on favorite to win the championship in 2014, but the competition in this series is as tough as it has ever been. Johnson makes winning championships look easy, but in reality it is one of the hardest sports to take home the season-ending trophy.

    The key to winning the Sprint Cup title is consistency. Many drivers can win a race during the season, but in order to win the championship a driver must be able to consistently finish up front. Winning some races on the way helps as well.

    The drivers on this list have had much success throughout their NASCAR careers. Their problem has been their ability to stay hot from the green flag at Daytona until the checkered flag at Homestead.

    Here is a list of the drivers most likely to win their first career Sprint Cup title in 2014…

Kyle Busch

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Kyle Busch is often referred to as the best driver to never win a Sprint Cup Championship. He has dominated the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series, but he has been unable to win a championship in the Sprint Cup Series.

    Busch has 28 career wins and has made the Chase in six of his nine full seasons in the Sprint Cup Series. His fourth place finish in the 2013 Chase was his highest finish of his career.

    Busch is starting to mature as a driver and that could mean trouble for the rest of the teams in the Sprint Cup Series. Busch has the ability to win at any type of racetrack on the circuit. This could be the year Busch wins his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

Carl Edwards

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Carl Edwards finished the 2011 season as close as a driver could to winning a championship without actually winning. Edwards and Tony Stewart were tied in the point standings at the end of the season. Stewart won the championship based on a tiebreaker.

    The 2011 season was not the only time Edwards finished second in the point standings. In 2008 Edwards finished runner-up to Jimmie Johnson.

    Edwards has 21 career wins and has made the Chase six of his nine full seasons in the Sprint Cup Series. The last two seasons have not been great for Edwards, but do not count him out as a contender for the 2014 Sprint Cup Championship.

Kevin Harvick

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    Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

    Kevin Harvick had a great season in 2013. He won four races and finished third in the season-ending point standings.

    Harvick has 23 career wins and has finished third in the point standings in three of the last four seasons. He even won his first pole in seven years in 2013. Harvick is a driver who has his career going in the right direction.

    Harvick left Richard Childress Racing for Stewart Haas Racing at the end of last season. The switch could be just what Harvick needs to win his first Sprint Cup Championship. Harvick and Stewart are great friends off the track. The two drivers should work well together, making Harvick a serious threat to the championship this season.

Denny Hamlin

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Denny Hamlin has to be happy to have the 2013 season behind him. After suffering a back injury early in the season, Hamlin’s chances at his first title in 2013 were over. He has shown in the past that he has the talent to run up front. In order to win the championship, Hamlin must be more consistent.

    Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing will help Hamlin in his quest for his first title. The team has three of the best drivers in the sport. Hamlin’s teammates, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch, have had success in the Sprint Cup Series. Kenseth has won a championship before and will be able to help Hamlin win his first championship if he is in position to do so at the end of the 2014 season.

    Although 2013 season was horrible for Hamlin, do not count him out as a serious threat to the 2014 Sprint Cup Title.

Clint Bowyer

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Clint Bowyer is one of the most underrated drivers in the Sprint Cup Series. When people start to put their list together of the drivers who will win the Sprint Cup Championship, Bowyer’s name is seldom at the top of the list.

    Bowyer has finished in the top five of the Sprint Cup standings three times. In 2012 he finished runner-up to Brad Keselowski. He has the talent to run up front, but must be able win more races.

    Bowyer only has eight wins in his eight full seasons in the Sprint Cup Series. If he can figure out a way to win more races in the 2014 season, Bowyer could be holding up the NASCAR Sprint Cup trophy in Homestead.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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    Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on this list for two reasons. He is a good driver on the best team in the sport and if he is left off this list, his fans will fill my email box. I did not feel like reading a bunch of hate mail, so here he is.

    Earnhardt’s career is starting to go in the right direction. After finishing outside the top 10 in five of the last six seasons, Earnhardt was able to put together a solid season in 2013 and finish fifth in the point standings.

    Earnhardt did not win any races last year, but he did have 10 top-five finishes and 22 top-10 finishes. If Earnhardt can win some races and continue his consistency of finishing up front, he will be a serious contender for the 2014 Sprint Cup Championship.

Joey Logano

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    Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

    When Joey Logano first entered the Sprint Cup Series, Mark Martin nicknamed him “Sliced Bread.” Martin was referring to Logano’s ability to win multiple championships in the Sprint Cup Series. Although it is still early in Logano’s career, he has not lived up to expectations.

    Logano has only has three wins in his five full seasons in the Sprint Cup Series. The 2013 season was his best so far in his career. Logano had 11 top-five finishes, 19 top-10 finishes and finished eighth in the point standings last season.

    Logano was on a hot streak at the end of the 2013 season. If he can take that success into the 2014 season and win more races, he will be a threat to win his first Sprint Cup Championship. 

     

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