Even though Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team continued their unprecedented dynasty by winning a fifth consecutive Sprint Cup championship last season, a critical victory by the eventual runner-up made the quest for another Chase title a bit harder than in years past.
After keeping pace with Johnson throughout the first seven races of the Chase, Denny Hamlin scored the last of a season-high eight victories by dominating at Texas Motor Speedway Nov. 7—giving him a 33-point lead over Johnson that would eventually disappear over the final two races.
While consistency is still somewhat rewarded, there's little doubt that winning—as it always has been in the Chase era—is the most important thing.
With that in mind, here's an educated guess at who will be visiting Victory Lane throughout the 2011 Sprint Cup season.