Look for Kasey Kahne to get out of blocks at Daytona
The 2010 NASCAR season gets the green flag today with the 52nd running of "The Great American Race," the Daytona 500.
Last season saw the driver of the Lowe's No. 48, Jimmie Johnson, complete an unprecedented four-peat, while owner Rick Hendrick took the first three spots.
Here are the drivers you can expect to see in the "Chase for the Championship."
1. Jimmie Johnson: Hendrick Motorsports/48 Lowes Chevrolet - This driver is on pace to shatter all the records. Crew chief Chad Knaus also appears to make all the right decisions. Simply the best.
2. Tony Stewart: Stewart/Haas Racing/14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet - "Smoke" Stewart proved all the doubters wrong in his first year as driver/owner. He led the points race most of the season. Look for Stewart to push No. 48 to the max this year.
3. Jeff Gordon: Hendrick Motorsports/24 DuPont Chevrolet - The once proclaimed "Top Dog" of NASCAR had his most consistent season of late in 2009. The stars could be in place for the four-time champion to return to his place at the top of the mountain. Is it any wonder that Gordon's last title came the year before Johnson started?
4. Mark Martin: Hendrick Motorsports/5 Kelloggs/Carquest Chevrolet - The 51-year-old had an awesome 2009 season, finishing second to teammate Johnson. There are two things this future Hall of Famer hasn't done - win the Daytona 500 and a NASCAR championship. Can this be the year for both?
5. Denny Hamlin: Joe Gibbs Racing 11 FedEx Express Toyota - This brash "Young Gun" has all the makings of a superstar in this sport. But can he finally put it all together with consistency and victories? The bet is he will get it done in 2010.
6. Juan Pablo Montoya: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing/42 Target Chevrolet - 2009 was not a fluke. This former open-wheel stud made the Chase and followed it up with five top 5 finishes in the final 10 races. Look for more of the same this year.
7. Kasey Kahne: Richard Petty Motorsports/9 Budweiser Ford - He has enough wins to earn a spot among the elite, but his consistency has never shown. Look for the switch to Ford to help with the latter.
8. Kurt Busch: Penske Racing/2 Miller Lite Dodge - The former champ will follow a solid 2009 year with another trip to the Chase.
9. Carl Edwards: Roush Fenway Racing/99 Aflac - This intermediate speedway driver had zero wins in '09. That won't cut it.
10. Greg Biffle: Roush Fenway Racing/16 3M - Ditto for Edwards' teammate. Need victories to move up on this list.
11. Kyle Busch: Joe Gibbs Racing/18 M&Ms Toyota - Missing the Chase in '09 has this renegade's blood boiling.
12. Matt Kenseth: Roush Fenway Racing/17 Dewalt Ford - Won the first two races in '09 then fell apart. Look for better things for the 2003 champ.
Daytona 500 champion: Kasey Kahne
2010 Chase champion: Jeff Gordon
Craig Andros is a frequent contributor to Voice of the Fan, often commenting on the Steelers or NASCAR.