NASCAR 2010 Season Predictions

Jeffrey BoswellAnalyst IJanuary 29, 2010

LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 02:  Four time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson speaks at Las Vegas Motorspeedway for the Champions Roast during Day 1 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week on December 2, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

* Danica Patrick struggles early in her debut season in NASCAR, failing to finish above 30th in her first eight races. Frustrated, the incredibly fit Patrick surprisingly turns to food for comfort, and she gains 19 pounds, mostly in her back side, and the "rear" spoiler again becomes a hot topic of conversation in NASCAR circles.

* Jimmie Johnson and his wife Chandra welcome a baby boy on July 13, three days after Johnson wins at Chicagoland Speedway. Most of Johnson's crew is present for the birth, and crew chief Chad Knaus is even honored with cutting the umbilical cord. However, Knaus cut leaves the cord 1¾" too long, 3/8" over NASCAR specifications, and the child is impounded and kept an extra night after failing inspection.

* Bitter rivals Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski come to blows during the convocation before the start of the Daytona 500.

NASCAR reacts strongly to the confrontation between the two hotheaded drivers, and NASCAR president Mike Helton acts swiftly, announcing the introduction of a hauler to be used solely for disciplining "those two idiots," as Helton puts it.

The following week at Fontana, the "Ass Hauler" debuts, and Hamlin and Keselowski enjoy personalized seating after a late-race incident degenerates into a free-for-all in which Keselowski places Hamlin in a figure-four leglock, further damaging Hamlin's injured knee.

* Carl Edwards, who earlier in the year vows to avoid spinning discs, slices his right hand open after a freak accident incurred when he takes over the turntables at a Fatboy Slim concert in Atlanta on March 5.

Edwards again suffers through a winless Sprint Cup season, verifying that the Aflac duck does, in fact, "lay eggs."

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* Edwards' incident, however, pales in comparison to the oddest "freak" accident of the year, which occurs in Las Vegas when Tony Stewart's hauler collapses under the weight of one-third of Vegas' entire escort population.

* After Crown Royal drops its support mid-season, Matt Kenseth finds a sponsor for his No. 17 Ford when Flomax® signs on to back the Roush Fenway Racing car of the 2003 Cup champion.

Kenseth's yellow paint scheme immediately becomes one of the most recognizable in NASCAR, and his pit crew, after initial reluctance, proudly welcomes their new nickname, the "Killer P's."

* One year after becoming the youngest NASCAR driver to win a Sprint Cup race, 19-year-old Joey Logano sets another precedent when he uses astute fuel strategy to win at Darlington in May, thus becoming the first driver to win a race and start puberty on the same day.

Logano later qualifies for the Chase and finishes eighth in the final points standings.

* NASCAR's stance to let drivers "police themselves" hits a major snag in the first drivers meeting of the year at Daytona, when 43 sheriffs show up, and chaos ensues. NASCAR does the only logical thing ands calls another drivers meeting.

* Jimmie Johnson finishes 11th at Homestead on November 21 and easily clinches his fifth-consecutive Sprint Cup championship, further solidifying his status as one of NASCAR's all-time greats.

Hendrick Motorsports commemorates the occasion with an online poll, asking visitors to vote on an official name for the "five-peat" signifying Johnson's dynasty. Although "Hand Job" receives a fair share of the votes, ultimately "Rule of Thumb" wins out, and the merchandise line becomes a top seller, albeit well behind Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s products, and Danica Patrick's emerging "Momma Mia! Go Daddy!" merchandise line.

* The Jeremy Mayfield versus NASCAR trial takes a dramatic turn when, in opening arguments, Mayfield's counsel, Atticus Flinch, utters the phrase, "If there was no list, you must desist." The phrase quickly becomes a rallying cry for the Mayfield cause.

Mayfield prints t-shirts and bumper stickers bearing the saying, and funds his attorney fees with profits from sales. NASCAR files an injunction, attempting to force Mayfield to cease sales, based on NASCAR's belief that "no one should profit from NASCAR's nebulous drug policy except NASCAR itself." A judge quickly denies the injunction.

The trial ends when Mayfield is exonerated after NASCAR lawyers make a disastrous decision to have Mayfield's former mother-in-law, Lisa Mayfield, testify against Mayfield. NASCAR lawyers ask Lisa Mayfield to recount the time she saw Jeremy using methamphetamines, and she surprisingly gives a credible and believable account of the incident.

That is until she's pressed by Flinch, who asks, "How do you know they were amphetamines?" Lisa Mayfield replies, "Because they came from my stash."

* With the NASCAR rule book going retro, Jeff Gordon decides to do the same, and arrives at Daytona with a half-mullet and a cheesy, peach-fuzz mustache. The look is a disaster on the track, and Gordon retrogrades , failing to score a top-10 finish in the season's first 10 races, but it's a boon to his wine business, as Gordon Wineries buys out Boone's Farm and Gordon's goofy circa 1995 visage graces the bottles of the cheap wine nationwide.

* NASCAR's new rule allowing bump-drafting is tested sternly during the Sprint Cup opener at Daytona, where Tony Stewart and Juan Montoya prove that the hard feelings from last year's tangle at Homestead are far from over.

Montoya, starting in the third position, bump-drafts Stewart's pole-sitting No. 14 Chevrolet on the second pace lap, sending Stewart sliding in front of the oncoming field.

As driver after driver checks up, a chain reaction ensues, and all 43 cars in the field sustain minor damage which alters their aerodynamics. When the race resumes, most drivers find that their cars are uncontrollable in clean air, and single-file racing ensues for the remainder of the race.

Kurt Busch wins the race with a last lap pass of Kasey Kahne, only the race's seventh lead change under green.

* Former NASCAR driver Aaron Fike is spotted in a parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Peoria, Illinois, inexplicably conversing with a cardboard cutout of Wonder Woman. Police are called, Fike is questioned, and the troubled driver is sent on his way, charged with possession of "heroine," a misdemeanor.

* Mark Martin again comes up short in his quest to win the Sprint Cup championship, finishing fourth behind Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart. Weeks later, Martin quells rumors about his future with a press conference, where celebrity spokesperson Brett Favre announces on Martin's behalf that Martin will retire.

* After a long pit stop costs him the lead 398 laps in at Bristol in March, Kyle Busch berates crew chief Dave Rogers, uttering a string of profanities not heard in NASCAR since Busch's previous diatribe. Rogers listens calmly and talks Busch down, and Busch recovers for the victory. In Victory Lane, Rogers eschews dousing Busch in a champagne bath, and instead cleanses his sharp-tongued charge with a mouthful of soap.

* Dale Earnhardt, Jr. takes full advantage of the extra resources allotted to him by Rick Hendrick and enjoys a fruitful spring, opening a new Whisky River bar in Nashville and adding an additional merchandise trailer.

* Juan Montoya storms to the front in the season's first 10 races, claiming a 143-point lead in the Sprint Cup standings. Montoya confidently proclaims himself the "Juan" to beat, and vows to maintain his lead behind his "fiery Latino resolve," and supported by his growing fan base, whom he dubs "Colombian Marching Power."

* In April, Chad Knaus signs a contract extension to remain with Hendrick Motorsports, easily making Knaus the highest-paid crew chief in NASCAR. Asked how he feels about it, Knaus says "Fine." Knaus is later honored by his fellow crew chiefs with a pair of suspenders, with music provided by a live "banned."

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