Who starts the 2012 push at Phoenix is 2011?

In 2009, Denny Hamlin won two of the final five races to propel his 2010 title run (minus Homestead.)

In 2010, Carl Edwards won the final two races to propel him the points lead with two races to go.

With two races left and two Chase ultra-super-wowdowehavetobecareful contenders, this opens the door for the next big thing in 2012. Here are three contenders:

Brad Keselowski:

It’s already been a breakout year. Dude is still fourth in the points. Still, there’s a chance to him to become the face of Penske Racing, especially if Kurt Busch continues to say dumb things over the radio and anger other drivers. With Keselowski owning a Nationwide Series title, the pedigree is there to make a move.

Kasey Kahne:

Surprising finish last week. Kahne knows how to win. Plus, he’s joining this new team next year called Hendrick Motorsports, which I’ve heard good things about The only problem now is Red Bull Racing. At best, it’s on life support.  At worst, ugh.

Ryan Newman:

Another driver who is in the Chase, but a total non-factor. But consider his history, the new money coming into Stewart-Haas Racing and the uncertainty surrounding Toyota teams, Newman could make a run.

Speaking of run, I’m like a marathoner at mile 25. Having lost four straight races, I’m now down a fake 45 dollars and hoping for a win.  Here are my fake picks for the sake of your entertainment and the continued embarrassment of my family.

20 fake dollars on Tony Stewart at 6/1:
So I wrote a whole column on young guns and I’m sticking with the contender? That’s a swerve. Yes and yes.

15 fake dollars on Carl Edwards at 7/1

Still doing it.

5 fake dollars on Kasey Kahne at 9/1

Now we’re back on track.

5 fake dollars on Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman at 20/1

And we’re home.

Here’s what The Spread thinks.
Enjoy the race Sunday, and insert random catchphrase here.

Tony Stewart 6/1
Carl Edwards 7/1
Jeff Gordon 7/1
Jimmie Johnson 7/1
Kyle Busch 8/1
Matt Kenseth 10/1
Denny Hamlin 12/1
Kevin Harvick 12/1
Clint Bowyer 15/1
Kasey Kahne 18/1
Greg Biffle 18/1
Ryan Newman 20/1
Kurt Busch 20/1
Brad Keselowski 20/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr 25/1
Mark Martin 40/1
Jeff Burton 40/1
Martin Truex Jr 50/1
Jamie McMurray 50/1