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As we continue our countdown to the season-opening Daytona 500, let’s take a look at seven drivers that have a realistic shot at winning the championship in 2020.
7. Brad Keselowski
The 2012 champion had an up-and-down 2019, scoring three victories but failing to qualify for the Championship 4. Being paired with new crew chief Jeremy Bullins, there’ll certainly be some growing pains over at Team Penske and on the No. 2 team specifically.
But Bad Brad has proven his aggressiveness and talent always put him in the mix. No matter the track or competition surrounding him. 2020 will be no different.
6. Chase Elliott
Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team remains completely intact from 2019. In fact, HMS is the only major team to not have a driver or crew chief change this off-season.
Fresh off a three-win season and 15 top 10s, the Dawsonville, Georgia native is looking to get past the Round of 12 and shake off the demons he experienced in a brutal three-race stretch last season. Elliott is the Hendrick and Chevrolet’s current best shot at a Championship 4 berth.
5. Martin Truex Jr.
A major storyline that dominated the off-season was the surprise retirement of championship-winning crew chief Cole Pearn. That left Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota without a man atop the box, before James Small answered the call for 2020.
MTJ is coming off his second-best year statistics wise, garnering a series-high seven wins. If it weren’t for a rare tire change mishap at Homestead-Miami Speedway, we may be talking about a defending and two-time champion MTJ.
2017 was a dream year for him, though, as Pearn helped guide the ship to victory. Seeing how Truex and the team gel without the Canadian’s guidance will be a big storyline to watch.
4. Joey Logano
2019 marked just the third time since 2014 that Joey Logano wasn’t a part of the Championship 4. With new crew chief Paul Wolfe, Logano will look to mesh quickly with his new shot caller and rack up the playoff points heading into the playoffs.
Much like his Team Penske counterpart in Keselowski, Logano’s aggressiveness and willingness to ruffle feathers have served him well historically. Heck, look at Martinsville in 2018. That win vaulted him into Homestead, and we remember what happened from there.
3. Kevin Harvick
A perennial title contender, Harvick is a threat to win it all every year. No matter the schedule, competition, team, etc. He’s only missed the Championship 4 once since his title-winning campaign in 2014 and has finished third each of the last three seasons.
Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers are about the only constant at Stewart-Haas Racing, as crew chiefs swapped on Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola and Cole Custer were promoted to drive the No. 41, replacing Daniel Suarez.
Although SHR is a slight step behind Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota, Harvick is usually a step ahead mentally, and from all accounts, they were beginning to peak at the end of 2019.
2. Denny Hamlin
Only rivaled by his eight-win 2010 campaign, last season was a banner year for Hamlin. The pairing of Chris Gabehart, his new crew chief, proved to pay dividends, as the two racked up playoff points and rode the wave all the way to Homestead.
Unfortunately, a piece of tape on the grille hindered Hamlin’s chances of a win and title. But he was fine with the risk. Just like he said the week prior that he was fine with his legacy if he never ended up winning a title. He’s at peace with himself...which makes him even more dangerous.
He’s also now 39-years-old, a NASCAR driver's statistical peak age. Driving for the best organization in the sport, having a second year with a crew chief who seems to be the perfect fit for him and ending the year where he won last year (Phoenix) seems like a dream scenario.
1. Kyle Busch
What else is there to say about this guy? He is the KB Show. Put him in a super late model, truck, Xfinity car, Cup car, heck, even the Rolex 24, and he’ll wheel the living snot out of it.
He did it all last year on his way to his second championship and did so with an unorthodox 10-race playoff. Zero wins in the first nine races (and a winless streak that stretched back to June), but he and crew chief Adam Stevens won when it counted the most, literally.
Kyle Busch is the best driver in the sport right now and is one of the best to ever strap behind the wheel in the sport of all-time. He enters this season as the favorite to repeat for his third career championship for good reason--and he may just get it too.
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