Over the past four years there have been four different, NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB champions. We have had a summer and the soon-to-be Winter Olympics. Two Presidents have taken the oval office, and there has been a leap year.
Yet there has only been one NASCAR Champion—Jimmie Johnson.
Jimmie has ruled the world of NASCAR over the last four years with 27 point victories, 94 top ten finishes, and an average finish of 10.53.
If Jimmie is such a guarantee to win the championship every year, why do I pick someone new to win the championship every year?
With Daytona less than two hours away, here is my list for the top 13 drivers in 2010.
Mark Martin, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Ryan Newman all made the chase in 2009—this year won't be the same.
Every year there are surprises on both sides of the ball—who makes it and who doesn't.
Mark Martin's 2009 season was his best shot at the title. No one expected him to make a comeback like he did.
This year drivers are more on the lookout and won't let Martin drive by them as easy as he did last year.
Mark and Junior share the same garage and are second fiddle in the Hendricks team. This year will show that.
Juan Pablo has finally learned how to drive without wrecking drivers. Now he just needs to learn how to win at oval tracks.
His program has improved. I think he might break through to get an oval win. He just won't be able to be in the top 12 by "regular" season end.
Ryan Newman's last victory came in the 2008 Daytona 500 with Penske. Newman failed to make the chase that year.
Last year Newman went without a victory and made the chase. Go figure.
He had some great runs and then not so great runs. He will battle for the chase but fall just short in what will be the best race, coming down to Richmond for the final chase spots.
I can already feel the hate from all you Junior fans.
Lets set the record straight, I don't hate on Junior. He is a stand up guy and he is great for NASCAR, but lets be realistic. Junior has only one points victory in his two season with Hendrick. He has posted career worsts in top tens, top fives and point standings.
When he was with DEI, he was the man—with Hendrick he is number four.
His speedweeks started off great but have slowly declined and has shown flashes of the last two years.
In my mind he is still considered fourth at Hendricks behind Martin, Gordon, and Johnson.
I don't think that he will make the chase and he will have to get some luck to finish 13th. I only put him here so I would not have to answer the question, 'Why is Junior not on the list'.
Harvick has had a tremendous speedweeks. He has shown he can move up through the pack with a very fast racecar by winning the shootout and nearly the duel.
He had his worst average start and average finish since the 2002 season. His team is basically the same and they are hungry to prove that last year was a fluke.
Harvick is probably more motivated this year to get back to his winning ways. The Richard Childress camp is looking to get back to the chase but only one will do that -- Harvick.
After his first stint with Ganassi, McMurray has only two wins and those came at restrictor plate tracks.
He was supposed to be the next best thing to happen to NASCAR. What happened?
Well he signed with Roush Racing and it was all down hill. For the most part he was considered the number five driver of the group. So he got all the "sloppy seconds".
Even though he had finished better in the point standings, and had more wins than David Ragan, McMurray still got booted from the camp.
He has shown he has the ability to win, and the team he is with has made the chase before. Don't be suprised if McMurray gets three wins this year and makes the chase.
Since the second place finish in the points back in 2005 and his third in 2008, Biffle has not had much to say.
Most of that is do to some bad luck. No matter where he is on the track the bad luck will follow Biffle.
Biffle had one of, if not, the fastest car on the track. He took two tires and was starting fourth, right behind Max Papis who declined to pit.
Max spun his tires and Biffle had no shot at cathcing back up to Johnson.
If it was not for having luck like that, Biffle might have already been the only driver in NASCAR history to have won the Truck, Nationwide, and Sprint cup championship by now.
Kurt's 2009 season was a success. He finally showed Penske that he can compete just like his championship back in 2004.
He has had a strong week at Daytona. He should be able to challenge for the victory.
He had his best average finish last year since 2004 with 12.8 and completed over 98.5% of the laps which was a career best.
This year will be more of the same. He will run well all season but not well enough to take the trophey from Jimmie.
He had a great year last year. Challenged for the championship and got back to victory lane.
He completed over 99.1% of the laps and had a strong car every week. I just think he is starting to get past his prime.
He gets caught up in a lot of other racers wrecks and just does not to seem to have the luck that he used to have.
He will still make the chase because he is a very talented driver. I just don't think he will challenge for the championship like he has in the past.
New colors, and sponser. I love the look of the car. If you could win by paint job, Kenseth would sweep the season -- but that is not how it works.
Kenseth really has not shown much after his championship in 2003. His numbers have declined and he seems to put himself in bad situations by qualifying toward the back.
His average start last year was 21.4. That is basically right in the middle of the pack. So he does get caught up in a lot of messes.
When he makes it thorugh the field to the front he is hard to beat. This year he will improve on his average start and be able to make the chase.
After his tremndous 2008 year, Busch took a slide backwards in 2009 and missed the chase.
Watching him race in 2009 was not the same as 2008. He did not have that intensity he had. Maybe his mind was concentrating more on the Nationwide championship than running well in the Sprint Cup.
I think he also was just a little less wreckless on the track. He completed 97.9% of the laps which is his career best. That shows me that he settled down, and was little more careful.
Look for him to bring back that "Rowdy" personality back. He wants to shut up the critics by going out there and winning ever race.
Like Ricky Bobby "If your not first, your last".
Denny keeps getting better ever year. He is the first name that people say when asked the question 'who will dethrone Jimmie?'
I think he has a great shot at doing it, but his knee. After a pickup game of basketball he tore his ACL.
It is one of the most painful injuries to have. I am in awe of how he has dealt with it so far. It will cause him pain and to me might set him back in a few races were he can't leave the throttle wide open.
He will still have a great year but it will be more difficult than ever.
Kahne had his best year of his career in 2009 in terms of average finish, average start, and percentage of laps completed.
He showed that he is a force. They now make the switch to Ford after Dodge pulled the plug on all the teams except for Penske.
He won for the first time at Daytona in the second duel race and has been one of the cars to beat all weekend long.
Get used to it he will go to Homestead with a shot at winning the title.
Who? After the previous years of just winning, Carl disapered last year. His numbers were not that bad, he was just not that loud.
However he did have his worst average finish since the 2006 season and had no victories.
Something that may have been a factor is his full time participation in the Nationwide. He has done it before, but back to back seasons of doing that will wear anyone down.
His wife is due to have there first child Febuary 17th, which means he might have the new baby luck to his side.
For the last four years, Johnson has made me look like a fool. I have picked against him every time.
So why did I do it again?
His luck has to run out sometime. He has the best team in NASCAR with the best crew chief, but he has also had good luck late in the season.
Most of his bad luck comes early in the season, which in my book counts as good luck since it is not coming late in the season.
He is the most dominate force that NASCAR has seen in a long time. He doesn't have to push drivers out of the way to win a race, he doesn't have to intimedate them either.
He just drives around them.
No one expected that Stewart-Haas racing would perform so well last year. I thought that Stewart would make the chase and perform well, which he did.
This is the second year under his belt as an owner and he is getting the hang of it. He had his best average finish since 2005 and completed 99.8% of his laps.
He is one of the best drivers in NASCAR and will be the one to dethrone Jimmie.
Oh yea, he has also lost weight, so look for him to climb a few fences this year.