The following drivers were the top 10 finishers in points in the 2010 hobby stock season. Here’s what I see for each in 2011:
1. Steve Carlin: Carlin, seeking that record fifth track title for this series, will finish first … or second.
2. Bobby Anders: I feel Anders is poised for a monster season and I see him finishing …. second, or first. (The hobby stock title will likely be decided by the driver — meaning Carlin or Anders — who can avoid a costly DQ, DNS or DNF. It’s going to be that close, and I can’t wait for the fun to begin.)
3. Jim Powell: This is the one driver who could make it a three-way scramble for the championship. Jimbo is long overdue for a title and I love No. 48’s passion, but sometimes it gets the best of him. If he can keep both the temperature of his car and temper both in check we could have a mild surprise come championship night.
4. Jeremy Buss: Jeremy established himself as a solid, week-to-week threat in 2010. The next step is to become a bona fide contender. I think this is the year he does that. Before you win a championship, you have to contend for one.
5. Brian Hoener: Brian is part of a group of drivers on the cusp of a breakout season. I think 2011 would be an excellent year to award two trophies, one for the championship race that will likely involve Carlin, Bobby Anders, Powell and Buss, and another for who leads the “best of the rest.” Hoener is where Buss was a year ago at this time and I look for him to make the same kind of progress.
6. Nathan Hayes: All Denny Hamlin Jr. has done since he started racing is get better. Look for that to continue. I think Nathan joins the list of contenders in 2012 if he maintains the same degree of improvement in 2011.
7. Justin Bartz: Justin has quietly joined that list of potential breakout drivers. I think we’ll see continued development from No. 42, but he needs to show he can regularly finish up front in the features. He registered just two top-five finishes in a main event points run in 2010, the fewest of any of these drivers.
8. Jake Powers: “The Snake” has flashed all the tools to be a track champion except one — consistency. I look for him to take that step in 2011 and become a legitimate title threat by no later than 2012.
9. Tanner Klingele: One of the most promising drivers in any class, Tanner also needs to harness that week-to-week ability to run near the front. No other driver in any series won as many features as Klingele (2), yet finish outside the top five in the final points standings. My gut feeling is Klingele does harness that consistency and finishes fifth or higher in points in 2011.
10. Nathan Anders: Nathan’s brother, Bobby, garnered most of the 2010 headlines when it came to the Anders family, but keep an eye on Nathan in 2011. Nathan’s progress in this series reminds me of how Jared Schlipman developed in the modifieds. Schlipman began dominating the heat races he ran, then eventually figrued out the features. Keep this in mind — Nathan won the second-most hobby stock heat races last season. I’m not sure if 2011 is his breakout year or not, but it’s coming soon.