Hottest 30 over the past 10 as we begin a new season

By Ron Thornton On Mon, Jan. 23, 2012

With the roar of the engines having returned to Daytona, a new season is about to dawn upon us. We have a new, albeit recycled, champion, more Danica to watch for, a return of the kid to defend his Daytona title in a few weeks, and the results of a musical chair silly season. While 40 teams hope to run full-time, a few of them won’t matter much as we get into the season.

We get to look forward to discovering what Mark Martin has left in the tank as he returns to part-time status. We will get to watch for growth in the few races Danica Patrick, Trevor Bayne, and Austin Dillon will run this year. We should soon find out if Aric Amirola is actually ready for prime time as he takes over in the famed #43. However, the 2012 champ will probably come from the list of the hottest 30 drivers coming out of the final ten events of 2011.

Pos – Driver – Points/Past 10 – (Top Tens)

1. Tony Stewart – 403 pts – (5 wins -6 Top Fives -9 Top Tens)
Considering what happened to the last crew chief, maybe it’s best they win early and often.

2. Carl Edwards – 400 pts – (0-7-9)
Consistency apparently trumps wins 4 out of ten times…but not 5.

3. Kasey Kahne – 368 pts – (1-5-7)
And just like that, Kasey becomes the hottest Hendrick driver entering the new season.

4. Kevin Harvick – 333 pts – (0-2-6)
Even after selling truck team, can DeLana keep her fire suit? Please.

5. Clint Bowyer – 328 pts – (1-1-7)
And just like that, Clint becomes the hottest Waltrip driver entering the new season.

6. Matt Kenseth – 324 pts – (1-5-6)
2003 champ has finished in the Top 15 in each of the past dozen years.

7, Brad Keselowski – 319 pts – (0-4-4)
Soon to be 27 year old seems to have arrived, and Roger Penske couldn’t be happier.

8. Jeff Burton – 317 pts – (0-2-4)
The finish was alright, but the season was his worst since 1995.

9. Jimmie Johnson – 301 pts – (1-3-4)
Compared to the previous five years, thought the Las Vegas table service sucked in 2011.

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr – 290 pts – (0-1-3)
I wonder what he needs in 2012? Oh, yah, wins, starting in February.

11. Greg Biffle – 284 pts – (0-2-3)
Can always be found among the Top 20, but now has to reach for the top dozen to attain goals.

12. Denny Hamlin – 284 pts – (0-1-4)
Could have been a contender, but after Chicago and New Hampshire was left a pretender.

13. A.J. Allmendinger – 282 pts – (0-0-4)
It is a dog gone pity Petty lost him to Penske, as they will soon discover.

14. Ryan Newman – 281 pts – (0-1-4)
Does Aspen Dental sponsorship give him another reason to smile?

15. Paul Menard – 280 pts – (0-0-1)
Daddy’s money is still important, but easily coming off his best season.

16. Jeff Gordon – 278 pts – (0-3-4)
He and Kasey will have competition this year from Danica as NASCAR’s prettiest driver.

17. Brian Vickers – 275 pts – (0-2-2)
At 28, even this non-Vickers fan thinks it’s a bit too early to put this fellow out to pasture.

18. Marcos Ambrose – 263 pts – (0-1-4)
Won at the Glen, and now needs to be the Petty standard bearer in 2012.

19. Kurt Busch – 259 pts – (1-1-2)
That champion’s provisional could turn out to be rather handy this season.

20. Juan Pablo Montoya – 253 pts – (0-0-1)
The time is now, needs to step up his game as he enters his sixth full Cup season.

21. Martin Truex Jr – 247 pts – (0-1-4)
If he can regain his old form, this could be a good year to be Michael Waltrip.

22. Mark Martin – 247 pts – (0-0-2)
Sharing the #55 with his new boss, but will he also share his rocking chair with Mikey?

23. Kyle Busch – 234 pts – (0-1-2)
Apparently feels about trucks driven by Ron Hornaday the same way I feel about Smart cars.

24. Regan Smith – 231 pts – (0-0-1)
Furniture Row and Smith claimed their first win, the 2011 Southern 500, and first 5 Top Tens.

25. Joey Logano – 231 pts – (0-0-0)
He can do it, but now it is up to new Crew Chief Jason Ratcliff to help.

26. David Ragan – 229 pts – (0-0-1)
And just like that, David becomes the hottest Front Row driver entering the new season.

27. David Reutimann – 201 pts – (0-0-1)
And just like that, this David becomes the hottest Tommy Baldwin driver…and that is sad.

28. Jamie McMurray – 185 pts – (0-0-0)
Proof positive that the end of 2011 was a bloody disaster.

29. Dave Blaney – 159 pts – (0-0-1)
Anyone expect a breakout year by either Baldwin team? Anyone?

30. Casey Mears – 154 pts – (0-0-0)
I’m not superstitious, but that #13 just seems to be tempting fate.

Ron Thornton (279 Posts)

Ron is a former broadcaster who is in his 11th season writing for SpeedwayMedia and is celebrating his 21st season as Amy's husband. Their 19-year old sons are in their second year of Civil Engineering Technology, and they will have to wait and see if their family time at the baseball diamonds extends another season or not. Something about budding careers might get in the way. Ron is still not sure he wants to do when he grows up, other than possibly not actually growing up. So far, so good.


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