In case you haven't seen it, Pete Pistone gave his full field Chase predictions as part of our Chase driver profiles package.
Well, I want to get in on the fun, so here's my predictions on how the final 12 shake out.
1. Jimmie Johnson -- I think the 48 team's recent struggles of late are misleading. He took a couple of disappointing finishes in races that he dominated because of miscues or bad pit decisions. I don't think you'll see 48 team making those same mistake during. As I said in this week's Feud, I expect they'll pick up at least three wins during the Chase.
2. Denny Hamlin -- The 11 team has really gotten it's act together over the past couple of months and I expect he'll continue his run of top level consistency throughout the Chase and give Johnson a run for his money.
3. Mark Martin -- There's no doubt he has the equipment to capture that elusive championship this year, but I can't help but think he's going to get snakebit a couple of times during these final 10. I'm already envisioning his pessimistic speech following a big wreck at Talladega.
4. Jeff Gordon -- It's weird. He had a strong regular season -- his 12 top fives in the first 26 races were second most behind Tony Stewart -- but it seems a lot of people are forgetting him in favor of Johnson, Martin and Tony Stewart. He's going to be in the thick of the hunt for a fifth title.
5. Tony Stewart -- I'm a big more concerned with his performance down than stretch than I am with Johnson's. The 48 team has proven what it can do under pressure. The 14 team is still an unknown. I think he'll be good during the Chase, but not up to the same performance level he was at during the summer.
6. Brian Vickers -- The 83 team is riding similar momentum to that of Hamlin's 11 team. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he picked up a couple of wins during the Chase. But the rest of the time it will be top 15s intermingled with a few top 10s, which I don't think will keep him up in the championship mix.
7. Carl Edwards -- He was my preseason pick to end Johnson's reign as champion, but his regular season didn't instill much confidence in me. Still, I've made him my sleeper. Winless so far in 2009, there are several tracks at which I think he could end that skid -- Dover, Carlifornia, Charlotte, Texas come to mind. However, I don't think the 99 team will find that consistency that had eluded them all year.
8. Juan Pablo Montoya -- The goal for this year was to make the Chase and the 42 team accomplished that goal, reining in Montoya's aggressiveness -- no DNFs after experiencing nine a year ago. How aggressive will they allow him to be in the Chase, and will it necessarily lead to a uptick in production? If they take the leash off, it could just lead to a rash of wrecked cars. If they stay the course, a middle of the pack finish in the Chase seems about right.
9. Ryan Newman -- The 39 team seems to have climbed out of that midseson malaise that had them sweating out their Chase position. But they haven't displayed enough strength or consistency to believe they're huge title threat.
10. Kurt Busch -- He has yet to put more than three consecutive top 10 finishes together this year (and that happened just once). The announced departure of crew chief Pat Tryson doesn't seem to be sitting too well. A couple of bad runs and this team could go in the tank.
11. Kasey Kahne -- The merger with Yates and impending switch to Ford, with whom Kahne doesn't have a great relationship, could prove to be a championship killing distraction. His 10 top 10s during the regular season were the fewest of anbody to make the Chase.
12. Greg Biffle -- Statistically, he's having a season comparable to that of Martin in terms of top fives, top 10s, etc. The key difference is the four victories Martin picked up vs. none for Biffle and I don't see that skid ending during the Chase, even as the defending champion of the first two events.