I’m generally not good at predictions. Past championship prognostications I’ve made here have been proof positive of that over the last few years. The current Chase for the Sprint Cup elimination-style format doesn’t make things any easier. Actually, they make the whole process of predicting a 2015 champion before the season starts darn near impossible. Well, I guess I should say it makes well-informed, educated predictions close to impossible. It’s darn near close to a crap shoot and any prediction that turns out to be right on the money is going to require so much more luck than in seasons past.
It’s now so hard to predict a 2015 champion that the guys on the “Morning Drive” show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday (Feb. 10) morning refused to make predictions for this year. After some, perhaps, prodding from callers, they did mention that there were eight drivers who could win the Cup in 2015. USA Today‘s Jeff Gluck was able to narrow things down a little bit more on Monday, whittling down the possible championship candidates to a class of six.
As a starting point, here’s Gluck’s list: Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon.
Realistically, I’m not even sure I can commit to this list of six. I just have so many questions. What about Carl Edwards? Sure, he’ll be in his first year at Joe Gibbs Racing, but Harvick was in his first year with Stewart-Haas Racing. Also, the previous Roush-turned-Gibbs driver, Matt Kenseth, led the cirucit in race wins in his first season at JGR. What’s to say Edwards won’t do the same?
And speaking of Kenseth, what about him? Last season wasn’t all that great for Kenseth in his second year with Gibbs, but what if he rebounds from that with a season more reminiscent of 2013? After all, in 2013, he was with a new team; 2015 will be his third year with this group. Familiarity’s got to count for something, right?
There’s more. What can a rejuvenated Tony Stewart do? Sure, Stewart is the same age as the “retiring” Jeff Gordon, and last season was, by far, the worst of the three-time champ’s career, both personally and professionally. But, here are some things to consider. Stewart says he’s feeling better than he has since his sprint car wreck in 2013 that sidelined him for the remainder of that season, and judging from body language, statements made, etc., it seems that he’s at least close to being the Tony of old, mentally. Take away the 2013 and 2014 seasons and you have a driver who’s only a couple of years removed from his most recent championship.
Maybe I’m over-thinking things, adding more drivers to the pot from which to draw a championship pick. And really, when it comes to predicting a champion with the current format, picking a name out of a hat would be about as effective.
All that being said, here’s my pick: Gordon. I’ll admit it; my pick is at least somewhat a sentimental one. There’s just something about going out on top, so what better way for Gordon to be ushered out of the No. 24 seat than as 2015 Sprint Cup champion? Other than Ned Jarrett back in the 1960s, who else has done that?
But the choice isn’t just sentimental. There is a lot of merit to it, or at least I think there is. Remember, something as simple as a cut tire ended Gordon’s championship bid late in the 2014 Chase.
Have any championship picks? Talk to us about them on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner
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