Sprint Cup Title Predictions
Racing writers Lars Anderson, Tom Bowles, Bruce Martin, Brant James and Tim Tuttle reflect on the 2010 Chase and make their predictions for who will take this year's Sprint Cup title at Homestead-Miami on Sunday. (Send comments to siwriters@simail.com)
 
Which driver gained the most from the Chase?
 
John Harrelson/Getty Images
Anderson
Denny Hamlin - At age 30 (he celebrated his birthday on Thursday in South Beach), Hamlin (pictured) is just entering his racing prime and should be a title threat in the future. If he wins on Sunday, I don't think this will be the only championship he captures.

Bowles
Carl Edwards - After spending the summer rebuilding his team, the consistency of the No. 99 fell just short in the Chase. But a win at Phoenix plus plenty of laps led equals a lot of momentum heading into the 2011 campaign.

Martin
Denny Hamlin - He firmly established himself as the next great driver in NASCAR and controls his own destiny in the championship battle. Even if Hamlin doesn't win the Cup, he has proven to be among NASCAR's elite drivers with his series-leading eight victories entering the final race.

James
Denny Hamlin - He's rounded into a perennial, top-percentile title contender.

Tuttle
Joey Logano - He's had four top-5s and six top-10s in the nine Chase races and has climbed from 21st to 16th in the points. Logano, at 20, has made great strides in his second full Cup season. He'll be in the Chase soon, maybe 2011, certainly 2012.
 
Which team gained the most from the Chase?
 
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Anderson
Roush Fenway Racing - Though none of the three RFR drivers were a factor in the Chase, it appears that this team is already generating momentum for next year. Carl Edwards won last Sunday in Phoenix and don't be surprised if three RFR drivers -- Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Matt Kenseth -- end up in the top 10 on Sunday.

Bowles
Richard Childress Racing - Sure, the Clint Bowyer penalty killed off one of his three teams from the start. But Childress saw a lot of fire in his youngest driver, who doubled his win total this fall and helped teammate Kevin Harvick come within a whisker of a championship. With all three teams making the postseason in this camp, there's plenty of speed and experience from which to build on moving forward.

Martin
Richard Childress Racing - Kevin Harvick (pictured) was a contender throughout the Chase and while much of the focus is on the top two drivers (Hamlin and Johnson), Harvick is within striking distance. RCR has rebounded impressively over a disappointing 2009 season by having all three of its drivers in the Chase in 2010.

James
Richard Childress Racing - Harvick will finish no worse than third in the standings. Clint Bowyer has two wins and counting in the final 10, although he lost 150 points to the post-New Hampshire penalty. Jeff Burton raced well in the Chase and danced with Jeff Gordon at Texas. RCR has solidified its elite status.

Tuttle
Roush Fenway - The Roush Fenway Fords of Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth made the jump they were looking for with two wins in the Chase and three in the last14 races going into Homestead-Miami. They're ready to challenge Hamlin, Johnson and Harvick for the championship next season.
 
Which driver's stock plummeted during the Chase?
 
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images for NASCAR
Anderson
Jeff Gordon - I expected Gordon (pictured) to win at least one race and perhaps even be in contention for the title at Homestead, but he's been shut out of Victory Lane and hasn't been able to run with the leaders for most of the playoffs. Currently sixth in the standings, Gordon's quest for a fifth championship will have to wait another year.

Bowles
Tony Stewart- He entered the playoff a longshot title contender, but Stewart's 2010 season will forever be remembered for the fuel gamble that fell short at Loudon. The normally calculated owner/driver doesn't make that sort of mistake often, but that was a missed opportunity he's still recovering from nine weeks later.

Martin
Jeff Burton - At one time he was in position for a top-5 finish in the standings but in recent weeks has dropped all the way to 12th. Burton is a solid race driver who can score consistent finishes, but without a victory in 2010 that isn't enough to be a serious contender for the championship.

James
Kyle Busch- Ultra-talented, ultra-self-destructive because of his impetuous emotional makeup. He's wasting his prime.

Tuttle
Jeff Burton - It's been a rough ride for Jeff Burton, who has one top-5 and two top-10s in the nine Chase races and is 12th in the points. He had four top-5s and 13 top-10s in the 26-race regular season. Burton's crash under caution with Jeff Gordon at Texas wasn't intentional, but it was inexplicable for a driver of his talent and experience.
Which team will leave Homestead most disappointed?
 
Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
Anderson
Hendrick Motorsports - With Johnson (pictured with Rick Hendrick) leading the way, Hendrick has won the last four championships. The streak will come to an end on Sunday.

Bowles
Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Hendrick Team - Johnson fleecing his pit crew for the final two races, effectively disabling his team for Phoenix and Homestead, punctuated a winless year. If Johnson completes the Drive For Five first, there'll be plenty of soul-searching in the Gordon camp this offseason.

Martin
Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Hendrick Team - While teammate Jimmie Johnson could win his fifth-straight Cup title, Gordon's disappointing performance in the Chase along with the inability of Mark Martin to make the Chase field and Dale Earnhardt Jr's continued spiral into oblivion has made Hendrick a "single-focus" team this season.

James
Denny Hamlin's No. 11 - Elected as the series' greatest hope to challenge Johnson, Hamlin accepted the responsibility and handled the pressure. He overcame knee surgery, squabbles with his teammates and the ire of Kevin Harvick for discussing Clint Bowyer's penalty so critically after winning the Chase-opener at New Hampshire. It should have been good enough, but won't be.

Tuttle
Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Hendrick Team - The team had several good opportunities to win this season, but will close out 2010 without a victory and knowing they were never a factor in the Chase
 
Sprint Cup Title Predictions Part 2: SI experts weigh in onthis year's final race at Homestead

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