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Handicapping this year’s Chase field will be no easy task. A quick glance, and no one driver stands out in the way Jimmie Johnson has in the past.
But when taking into consideration several factors including aggressiveness, skill, team depth and the overall dog-eat-dog mentality that every race-winning Cup driver possesses, two drivers stand out above the rest of the field.
Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano.
Harvick had the field looking helpless on Sunday at Atlanta. He’s been good on other 1.5-mile tracks too. Watch for him to drive with authority at Chicagoland, Charlotte, Kansas and the other similar-length tracks.
Logano has totally transformed himself from that nerdy kid into a “get out of my way, I’m going to the front and if you don’t, I’ll drive you into the wall” Team Penske driver in the Paul Tracy mold. If you’re not sure of who Tracy is, here’s a short YouTube video to get you up to speed.
For sure Jeff Gordon has got a fire burning for his fifth title and Brad Keselowski has shown flashes of his incredible talent, but no two drivers have shown that they are championship-bound on a more consistent basis than Harvick and Logano.
With that said, Harvick’s team has an Achilles' heel. Their pit road work has lost them valuable time on the race track and to some extent, races themselves. That needs to be corrected as soon as possible.
Logano has to become better at working with a bad race car toward the end of the race.
And the other driver often mentioned as a favorite? This won’t be the year for title No. 7 for Johnson and company.