Who Makes NASCAR’s 2014 Chase?

This season I’ve decided to make some 2014 Sprint Cup season predictions in addition to my weekly race driver rankings. First up: Which drivers have the best chance to make the Chase this season?

To pull this together, I’ve essentially handicapped every pre-Chase race. I then copied all those driver rankings into a spreadsheet, gave each position a score and added up each driver’s total score.

Before I post the results, a few qualifiers are in order. First, this handicapping method would’ve worked better with the old-old, points-based Sprint Cup championship format. The more the format has shifted to emphasize winning races, the less well this method works, probably. Still, the method does clarify who has the best chance to win races, so it still has value.

Also, handicapping races six months in advance, using only 2013 data, ain’t great. Not only does the data get older the farther out I work, but NASCAR instituted a number of tweaks to the Gen6 car in the off season, and who knows yet how that might shake things up. And, the race teams have had all off season to work on their cars, personnel, processes, etc., and history says that frequently shakes things up each year, too.

OK, here’s my driver list. It’s organized with the drivers most likely to make the Chase at the top, in descending order. Only 16 get in, but I’ve listed 23 to show who’s on the bubble:

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. Matt Kenseth
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  5. Jeff Gordon
  6. Kasey Kahne
  7. Brad Keselowski
  8. Joey Logano
  9. Martin Truex, Jr.
  10. Carl Edwards
  11. Clint Bowyer
  12. Kevin Harvick
  13. Kurt Busch
  14. Greg Biffle
  15. Denny Hamlin
  16. Ryan Newman
  17. Tony Stewart
  18. Paul Menard
  19. Marcos Ambrose
  20. Brian Vickers
  21. Jamie McMurray
  22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  23. Aric Almirola

2 thoughts on “Who Makes NASCAR’s 2014 Chase?

  1. Vardog

    Looks like a good list to me. The only thing I would predict is Hamlin being up higher (maybe next to Keselowski) IMO, I see Hamlin having bounce-back season.

  2. Jed Henson Post author

    Yeah, you’re probably right about Hamlin. I was worried about his back issue (I’ve had personal experience with a ruptured disc), but the way he’s tearing up Daytona so far, it appears he’ll be all right. Plus, even in years when he’s not a great race-to-race points threat, he still tends to win races here and there. Which will serve him well in the new Chase format.

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