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2010 top Sprint Cup performances

There were certainly some outstanding performances that took place during this past racing season. From a statistical standpoint, the 2010 season was the most competitive ever on the Cup circuit. Everybody has opinions; here are some thoughts on some of the past season’s top performers.

Top Drivers
• Kevin Harvick: The come-back kid of the year, Harvick finished a distant 19th in the 2009 points chase. This past season Harvick finished in third place. After going winless in 2009, Harvick notched three wins this season, and had 16 top five finishes. Kevin Harvick led the points chase for 20 weeks. For those of you who dislike NASCAR’s contrived Chase for the Cup format, Kevin Harvick would have been the 2010 Sprint Cup champion under the previous points system.
• Jimmie Johnson: Won an unprecedented fifth straight Sprint Cup Series championship in come-from-behind fashion. Johnson overcame a 15-point deficit heading into the season final. A solid second place finish at Homestead-Miami secured the championship title by 39 points over Denny Hamlin. Johnson won six races, led a series-high 1,315 laps, and finished in the top 5 an impressive 17 times. I’m not sure about Johnson’s ranking among the all time greats, but he is without a doubt the best at working the Chase format.
• Denny Hamlin: Finished a career best second in the point standings and was the points leader heading into the season final at Homestead- Miami. He posted a series-high eight wins on the season, including seven that came after early season knee surgery. Hamlin finished in the top five 14 times.

Top Team Owners
• Richard Childress: If Kevin Harvick is the comeback kid among the drivers, his team owner Richard Childress has to be the comeback team owner of the year. Childress saw all three of his drivers Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick advance to the Chase, after a miserable year in 2009 that saw Richard Childress Racing shut out of the Chase for the Cup. In addition to Harvick’s third place finish, Bowyer finished in 10th place and had two wins. The team’s third driver Jeff Burton went winless on the year, but his consistent finishes gave him a 12th place finish in the standings.
• Rick Hendrick: The leader of Hendrick Motorsports continues his assault on the NASCAR record books and further reinforced the fact that his organization is one of the most dominate and most successful in motorsports. Johnson’s fifth straight Sprint Cup championship gives Hendrick Motorsports a record 10 Cup Series owners crowns.
Incidentally for Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans who have been wondering about Jr’s future after another disappointing season. Jayski reported this past week that Rick Hendrick is in negotiations to extend Jr’s contract with Hendrick Motorsports.

Top Breakthrough
Performer
• Jamie McMurray: After being out of a ride following the 2009 season, McMurray made the most of his opportunity driving for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing in 2010. His three wins included two of the spots most prestigious races, The Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. McMurray’s third win came at the October Charlotte race. McMurray finished 14th in points and posted 9 top five and 12 top 10 finishes to go along with his3 victories.

Raybestos Rookie
of the Year
Not much to be said in this category in 2010. Kevin Conway gets the title. In 28 starts he finished 35th in the points standings. His best finish was 14th at the July Daytona race.
The 2011 season promises to see NASCAR continue with efforts to make the cars more recognizable as the brands they represent. We can look for more of last season’s, “Boys have at it,” attitude on the track and, unfortunately, more tough sledding as the nation’s economy continues to struggle. I just read about layoffs this week at Penske Racing with more expected to come. Just 67 days till the season opens at Daytona.
You may reach Pete Barber at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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