Tony Stewart dominated the last ten races of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, by ending up in Victory Lane five times. By winning the championship, he claimed his third title. What if the relationship with Stewart and his new crew chief take a while to build into a true partnership? Here are the five drivers who should be able to win the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series:
1. Kyle Busch was one of the best drivers in 2011. He won four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and two poles. While Busch had some issues on the track, including a sponsor threatening to leave the hood of his car for good, the off-season will give him a chance to reflect and prepare for the 2012 season. Busch and the No. 18 team have a decent chance of winning the Sprint Cup due to their consistency on the track.
2. Carl Edwards had a solid finish in 2011. Although he won only one race, the Kobalt Tools 400, he finished second for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Ford driver won four Coors Light Pole Awards. Edwards has a great chance of winning the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, as he demonstrated that he is still one of NASCAR’s most talented drivers.
3. Jimmie Johnson is next on the list. Old five time definitely knows how to get it done on the track. There is no doubt that he is one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers. While he finished the 2011 season sixth, he won two races at Talladega Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway. Knaus and Johnson are definitely a force to be reckon with for the 2012 season.
4. Jeff Gordon is still trying to get his fifth NASCAR title. While he may not be as dominant as he once was, Gordon is still a threat to win NASCAR races. He finished eighth in the point standings in 2011 and ended up in victory lane three times. While he hasn’t won a championship since 2001, he is on the list because he can still win races. With Gustafson on the pit box again for Gordon, I expect great things for the No. 24 team in 2012.
5. As the defending champion, Tony Stewart could easily repeat as the champion again in 2012. He shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. While the regular season was a struggle to Stewart, he ended up dominating the last ten races of the season. With a new crew chief and being reunited with Zipadelli in the shop, Stewart could easily be hoisting that trophy at the end of the 2012 season.