NASCAR is looking at expansion of the chase to match other professional sports. The NFL has 40% of its teams make the playoffs, and the NBA and NHL have 50% make them. NASCAR could be looking to do the same. I think then the chase would nearly be the same every year, with only the best making it. Here are 20 locks to make it if they expand to 50%, or about 22 drivers. (2011 Car in Parentheses)
1. Denny Hamlin (#11 Fedex Toyota)
2. Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe's Chevy)
3. Kurt Busch (#22 Pennzoil/Shell Dodge)
4. Matt Kenseth (#17 Crown Royal Ford)
5. Kyle Busch (#18 M&M's Camry)
6. Jeff Gordon (#24 DuPont Chevy)
7. Greg Biffle (#16 3M Ford)
8. Carl Edwards (#99 Aflac Ford)
9. Tony Stewart (#14 Office Depot/BK/Old Spice Chevy)
10. Clint Bowyer (#33 Cherrios Chevy)
All of these drivers have never finished outside the Top 20 in points since the chase format was instituted. It has to be locks for all of these drivers. Note:Some like Hamlin were rookies after 2004 and haven't attempted all of them.
11. Jeff Burton (#31 CAT Chevy)
12. Mark Martin (#5 GoDaddy Chevy)
13. Ryan Newman (#39 ARMY Chevy)
14. Joey Logano (#20 Home Depot Toyota)
15. Martin Truex Jr. (#56 NAPA Toyota)
16. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88 AMP Chevy)
These drivers have ran in the Top 12 at some point in the last 20 races. They shouldn't fall off enough to miss the cut.
Too Much Talent
17. Kasey Kahne (#09 Hendrick Chevy)
18. Brad Keselowski (#2 Miller Lite Dodge)
19. Juan Pablo Montoya (#42 Target Chevy)
These guys have great talent and good cars. They should be in the Top 10, much less the Top 20. All are having off years, but Montoya and Kahne are turning the corner.
David Reutimann (#00 Aaron's Toyota)
Jamie McMurray (#1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy)
David Ragan (#6 UPS Ford)
AJ Allmedinger (#43 Best Buy Ford)
Marcos Ambrose (#47 Little Debbie Toyota)
Brian Vickers (#83 Red Bull Toyota)
Travis Kvapil (#38 Long John Silver's Ford)
These guys are not consistent front runners. If I had to bet, the best of these three are Vickers, Reutimann, and Ambrose. They will jockey for spots.
This is all a rumor and may not come true, so it is almost a power ranking system. The photo is from PaddockTalk.com