CUP: Who Will Suprise With A Win?

Which NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers will surprise us this season? Which ones will pull off a stunning upset, or sneak into the Chase? Who’s going to win this year’s Daytona 500? Does anyone have a chance to knock off four-time champion Jimmie Johnson? Over the next two weeks, leading up to the 2010 Daytona 500, staffers Kenny Bruce, Kris Johnson, Jeff Owens and Bob Pockrass will provide those answers and more, offering our preseason predictions on a variety of topics? Who will be the biggest surprise to win a Sprint Cup race this year?

Kris Johnson says:


With one slight tweak to this category – add restrictor plate before race – and I like Kurt Busch. He's been close so many times – visions of him pushing then Penske teammate Ryan Newman across the finish line in the 2008 Daytona 500 linger – and he's due to strike at Daytona or Talladega this year.

Kenny Bruce says:


He’s with a different team, has a new crew chief and might not be a contender early in the season. But crew chief Pat Tryson has proven to be adept at reining in a driver who tends to keep his foot on the gas.

Each knows what it takes to win, but there’s a bit of a gulf between knowing and doing. Given time, and the continued improvements throughout the Michael Waltrip Racing organization, the team should be consistent in the second half of the year. Turning that consistency into victory may not be easy, but it’s certainly attainable.

Jeff Owens says:


There are some intriguing possibilities here – AJ Allmendinger, Sam Hornish Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr. (just kidding, though I started to pick Junior just to rile up Junior Nation.) My pick comes with an Australian accent. That’s right, the “Tasmanian Devil” will win this season.

Marcos Ambrose nearly won both road-course races last year. He also finished third at Bristol and fourth at Talladega. The dude who sounds like Crocodile Dundee can flat-out drive.

He’ll finally beat Tony Stewart on a road course, and he might just win somewhere else, too.

Bob Pockrass says:


Donnie Wingo won with Jamie McMurray last year. He can win with Ragan, too.

Think about it. Wingo knows how to keep a driver going despite a winless streak. Ragan hasn't won in 110 career starts. McMurray snapped an 86-race winless streak when he won at Talladega.

Granted, winning at Talladega is about being in the right position at the right time. But Ragan has won in the Nationwide Series and Wingo will put him in position to win a few races this year.

At some point, he will win one of them. • NASCAR expected to add Talladega spoiler test