Eleven drivers are chasing Jimmie Johnson for a chance to be champion. Most will fail.

Even thought the points structure is new, the Chase has history which can help us determine who will and won’t win in 2011.

Eighth or Worse, Don’t Bother Showing Up:

Kurt Busch was seventh in points when he won in 2004.  Nobody eighth or worse going into the final race before The Chase has gone on to win The Chase.

Kiss Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowksi and Denny Hamlin goodbye.
Winning Twice is Nice:

NASCAR wants to reward drivers who win. The Chase does that. A driver has never won the title without winning two races prior to The Chase.

Kurt Busch. Gone. Ditto Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards, who many think is a leading contender.

You know who else only has one win this year? Jimmie Johnson. The streak is over unless history is made.
Consistency Counts

No driver has ever won the Sprint Cup having not made The Chase in the previous season.   

Toyota has never won a Sprint Cup title:

Sorry Kyle Busch.

That leaves Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth to compete for the 2011 Sprint Cup.  The other 40 drivers shouldn’t even bother to show up. It would sure make my picks easier, down a fake 125 dollars after Harvick won in Richmond.

20 fake dollars on Jeff Gordon at 7/1:

He has the best average finish of any driver over the last five years.
15 fake dollars on Matt Kenseth at 8/1:
This feels like a Jack Roush special.  

10 fake dollars on Tony Stewart at 12/1:

Tony Stewart wins a race every year. Three top five’s here since 2006. Plus Clint Bowyer didn’t win a race in 2010 until the first Chase race.

5 fake dollars on Dale Jr. at 30/1
Why not?

Twelve drivers embark upon a tremendous journey. Can’t wait to see where it take them and the fans. Here’s what The Spread thinks, and insert random catchphrase here.
Kyle Busch 7/1
Jimmie Johnson 7/1
Carl Edwards 7/1
Jeff Gordon 7/1
Matt Kenseth 8/1
Kevin Harvick 10/1
Kurt Busch 10/1
Tony Stewart 12/1
Denny Hamlin 12/1
Brad Keselowski 12/1
Greg Biffle 20/1
Kasey Kahne 25/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr 30/1
Clint Bowyer 30/1
Ryan Newman 30/1
AJ Allmendinger 40/1
Mark Martin 40/1
David Ragan 40/1
Martin Truex Jr 40/1
Joey Logano 40/1
David Reutimann 50/1
Juan Pablo Montoya 50/1
Jamie McMurray 50/1
Brian Vickers 50/1
Jeff Burton 60/1
Paul Menard 60/1
Marcos Ambrose 100/1
Regan Smith 100/1
Trevor Bayne 100/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 100/1