Here on the The Backstretch Blog, I'm counting down the 16 drivers I think will make the 2017 Chase for the Championship. Here's a look at drivers 13-11:
13. Chase Elliott: Hendrick Motorsports
Eliiott has quite the rookie season, finishing 10th in the points and advancing to the second round of the NASCAR playoff. The next step for Elliott is obviously to win a race. I think that Elliott will rack up lots of segment wins this season and collect plenty of playoff bonus points. And while it wouldn't rule out the possibility of a win for the 24 team, I also would not be surprised if they didn't win one.
12. Kyle Larson: Chip Ganassi Racing
Larson is one of the drivers the new points system could really help. He runs all out pedal to the metal all the time, and just has some really bad luck. The chance to pick up more points for running up front, but maybe having a late race parts failure or crash, will help a driver like him. After finally picking up his first series win last season and finishing ninth in the points, look for Larson to become a postseason regular in the cup series.
11. Kurt Busch: Stewart-Haas Racing
To me Kurt Busch is an enigma rolled up in a mystery. He is one of the most talented drivers in the garage area, but is sometimes seems like he cant get out of his own way or out of his own head. Kurt finished 2016, seventh in the points. I wouldn't be surprised if he won the thing this season or if he missed the postseason completely. But given the new points system and the consistency with which he runs, I would guess its most likely he finishes somewhere middle of the pack.
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