The 2011 NASCAR season is upon us. And with it, I introduce to you the first ever Stock Car Spin NASCAR Power Rankings!
My weekly rankings will consist of 20 drivers. The order does not go by points, but rather by who’s hot and who’s cold. So without further adeu, I give you the inaugural Stock Car Spin NASCAR preseason Power Rankings:
1. Jimmie Johnson: 5-time defending champ, Johnson starts the season at the top of the rankings. Daytona isn’t his track, so don’t expect him to stay here. At least…until we get to Phoenix.
2. Carl Edwards: Cousin Carl ended 2010 as the hottest driver in NASCAR, and his on-track performance wasn’t bad either. Edwards ended the season with a pair of wins, and is the preseason favorite to unseat Johnson as champion.
3. Denny Hamlin: Did we forget about the year Hamster had in 2010? A series-high 8 victories, and he came this close to his first NASCAR title. By the way, his 2011 cars are adorable; I just want to pinch their little fenders.
4. Kevin Harvick: Harvick ended 2010 with his best points finish ever. But his oft-grouchy attitude toward his pit crew earned him a new nickname around here. Let’s see if Not-So-Happy can keep it together and close the deal in 2011.
5. Jamie McMurray: J-Mac had a terrific year in his homecoming at EGR. With that under his belt, McMurray has his sights set on getting the Orange Dart into the Chase. He can do it, as long as he doesn’t have a crappie season. Too soon for a fish joke?
6. Kyle Busch: Rowdy ended 2010 pretty hot, but in all the wrong ways. Still, Shrub has the talent to get the job done if he can stay cool. Of course, we’ve been saying that for years…
7. Greg Biffle: The Biff got back on track in 2010 with a pair of victories. Greg now finds himself in a contract year, and with Trevor Bayne waiting in the weeds, Biffle may have to fight for his ride this year. It’s a fight he can easily win.
8. Jeff Gordon: New sponsor? Check. New paint job? Check. New crew chief? Thank goodness. Gordon fans couldn’t wait to kick Steve Letarte off the box. And now that Alan Gustafson is calling the shots, the #24 looks primed for a breakout year.
9. Kurt Busch: Nobody wants to give the elder Busch much credit. But to be fair, he has been the highest finishing driver with that last name once in the last two years. That’s gotta count for something, right?
10. Joey Logano: Logano continues to make progress at NASCAR’s highest level. But after failing to make the Chase again last year, Jo-Lo finds himself in the dark horse position again. Is this the year he finally proves himself? I think yes.
11. Clint Bowyer: Everybody knows Clint got robbed last year. And though the RCR 4-car experiment has failed in the past, it’s hard to believe Bowyer won’t be out for redemption.
12. Tony Stewart: I’ll make this short: If Jimmie Johnson was an Australian short-track owner, Smoke would beat him every single time.
13. AJ Allmendinger: He tripled his career top 5 total…from one to three. But AJ had some very competitive runs for a nearly defunct team at the end of 2010. With a fully-funded team, expect Dinger to win some races and maybe compete for a Chase spot.
14. Kasey Kahne: Kasey’s one-year stint for Red Bull begins…alright, it began last year. But Kahne showed some promise at the end of the season and showed some speed(pun intended) at the Daytona test. Hendrick may have to pry him out of this ride at season’s end.
15. Brian Vickers: It’s great just to see Brian back behind the wheel of a car. But to see him show as much speed as he did at Daytona was incredible, and if he can carry it through the season this could be the greatest sports comeback of all time.
16. Jeff Burton: He had the best of times. He had the worst of times. In the end, The Mayor’s winless streak continued but he did find himself back in the Chase. Does the incumbent Chaser do another term this year? I vote no.
17. Matt Kenseth: I didn’t put Matty at #17 intentionally. Up to this point I just forgot he even existed…
18. David Reutimann: Lost in the extravagance of Jamie McMurray’s outbreak season was Reuti’s success. Driver #00 earned his first “real” victory and fell just shy of making the Chase for the second straight year. With a little luck from his dog friend, he might have what it takes in 2011.
19. Juan Pablo Montoya: With all the wrecks he was involved in in 2010 it was like he had a Target on his back. Wait, he did, didn’t he?
20. Brad Keselowski: After winning the Nationwide championship, B.K. takes over a ride that has made the Chase each of the last two seasons. Brad will have to improve in 2011 though, because the Blue Deuce is not a miracle worker.
Topics: AJ Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski, Brian Vickers, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, David Reutimann, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Power Rankings, Tony Stewart