10. Carl Edwards: Cousin Carl had just five top-10 finishes in the second half of the 2013 season. A third straight woeful year in 2014 and we will no longer be calling it an aberration, but rather a trend. I’m sensing a comeback, however, and a return to The Chase. Crew chief: Jimmy Fennig.
9. Kasey Kahne: Kahne had wins a year ago at Bristol and Pocono, plus a half-dozen runner-up finishes. The main problem surrounded were nine showings of 32nd and lower. Crew chief: Kenny Francis.
8. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer is strong everywhere, but great nowhere. He’ll always be a contender, but never a champion. Crew chief: Brian Pattie.
7. Brad Keselowski: He was knocked out of Chase contention last year with an absolutely dreadful May and June. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back from the embarrassment of winning the title in 2012 and missing the Chase in 2013. Crew chief: Paul Wolfe.
6. Jeff Gordon: I have come to grips with the fact my all-time favorite driver will never win another title. I would never have believed that a decade ago. Crew chief: Alan Gustafson.
Next: The top five.