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NASCAR Draft Kit: 2010 Nationwide Rankings

Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor

Taylor covers NASCAR for RotoWire. He is a three-time winner of the FSWA's Racing Writer of the Year award. He is also a military historian, specifically the World War II U.S. Navy in the Pacific.

1. Kyle Busch – No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – The defending Nationwide Series champion is expected to return to the No. 18 Toyota that he won nine races in last season. Right now he's slated to compete in just 22-24 of the 35 total events. When this team is on the track with Busch behind the wheel, they're the most dominant force in the series. When someone other than Busch is in the driver's seat, they're just "very good."

2. Carl Edwards – No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford – The No. 60 team will run the full season with Edwards behind the wheel. He came up short of the championship again in 2009, but still won five races and collected 30 Top-10 finishes. Edwards will be the lead contender for the championship in 2010 if Busch stops short of running the full schedule. We expect to see the No. 60 Ford in victory lane a lot this season.

3. Brad Keselowski – No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge – Keselowski came up short of the championship again in 2009. However, he still won four races and picked up 28 Top 10's during the campaign. Keselowski brings his talent to Penske Racing in 2010. Penske has long been known to put good cars on the track in Nationwide Series competition. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman have won many races at this level of NASCAR in recent seasons for Penske. We expect similar results for the prodigy Keselowski.

4. Clint Bowyer/Jeff Burton/Other Drivers – No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet – This team has been a force in the Nationwide Series in recent seasons. The veterans Bowyer and Burton will saddle up for a majority of the races and that makes the No. 29 team even more dangerous. The two victories and 25 Top-10 finishes this team posted in 2009 can be seen as a “down year” for this team's potential.

5. Joey Logano/Denny Hamlin/Other Drivers – No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – The Joe Gibbs Racing excellence not only showed in the No. 18 team, but also in the No. 20 team as well. Youngster Logano and Hamlin combined to win five races for this team in 2009. With the two aces again running a majority of the events for the team again in 2010, expect this well-oiled machine to keep on rolling into victory lane.

6. Jason Leffler/Kasey Kahne – No. 38 Braun Racing Toyota – Leffler's Top 5 championship standings finish in 2009 puts him among a talented group of drivers. Not only was this team in the running for the championship last season, they were in the running to win races. Leffler will be expected to start 27 of the 35 events in 2010 and veteran driver Kahne is there to pick up the slack for the eight remaining events. Don't be surprised to see the No. 38 Toyota win a race or two in the upcoming season.

7. Kelly Bires – No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet – Bires will get the big career break that he's been looking for in 2010. He takes over the ride that Brad Keselowski drove to championship contention each of the last two seasons. Although young, Bires already has an impressive NASCAR resume. He has a combined 76 starts between the truck series and Nationwide Series with 12 Top-10 finishes in those starts. There's no question that Bires is talented and he has a lot of potential in this ride.

8. Colin Braun – No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford – Braun will make the jump from the Camping World Truck Series to the Nationwide Series in 2010. He will take over the No. 16 Ford team that won three races in 2009 with multiple drivers. Braun is a talented young driver that won one race and finished fifth in the final truck series standings of last season. He should enjoy immediate success with this powerful team.

9. Reed Sorenson/Brian Vickers – No. 32 Braun Racing Toyota – Sorenson will make the move from Sprint Cup racing to the Nationwide Series in 2010. He will take the wheel of the very good No. 32 team for 23 races in the upcoming campaign. Talented Red Bull Racing veteran Vickers will handle the driving duties for 10 of the remaining races. These two veteran drivers combined for 17 Top-10 finishes in the Nationwide Series last season. They should outperform those numbers with this team.

10. Justin Allgaier – No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge – After a successful rookie season, Allgaier returns to run the No. 12 Dodge full-time in 2010. The youngster amassed one pole and 12 Top 10's in 2009 on his way to finishing sixth in the final standings. While he was never in the running to win races, that could change in 2010. The upcoming season will be interesting to see how much Allgaier improves on his rookie campaign.

11. Greg Biffle/Other Drivers – No. 27 Baker Curb Racing Ford – This team leaps up the standings in 2010 on the news that veteran Roush Fenway Racing driver Biffle will race in a majority of the events for the No. 27 team. This stable managed eight Top-10 finishes with a handful of different drivers in 2009. Imagine what the team can accomplish with a race-winning veteran like Biffle behind the wheel for much of the season.

12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford – Youngster Stenhouse will be filling some big shoes in 2010. He takes over the No. 6 Ford team of David Ragan. This team won a couple races and collected 20 Top-10 finishes in 2009 mostly with Ragan at the wheel. While Stenhouse is not likely to enjoy that kind of success this season, he does boast enough experience to make this a competitive team. Expect about 12-14 Top-10 finishes for the No. 6 team with Stenhouse battling with teammate Colin Braun for Rookie of the Year honors.

13. Steve Wallace – No. 66 Rusty Wallace Inc. Toyota – Wallace pushed the bar a bit higher in 2009 with nine Top-10 finishes and a seventh-place finish in the final standings. He'll be expected to push the bar a little bit higher yet again this season. RWI switched from Chevrolets to Toyotas in the off-season and this should help pave the way for the young driver to improve. Expect a few more Top 10's in the upcoming season and maybe even what would be his first career Nationwide Series victory.

14. Dale Earnhardt Jr. /Danica Patrick – No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet – This team is expected to only compete in about 12 events total, so this is the first part-time team to show up in our rankings. However, the talent and level of equipment this team will field bears close examination. This is the old No. 5 team that ran in 2009 and collected nine Top-10 finishes with multiple drivers in a part-time schedule. Although Patrick will be learning the ropes, there will be some good performances from this team.

15. Matt Kenseth – No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford – While Kenseth will only run a handful of races with this team in 2010, they'll be a pretty dominant car on the track when they unload on race weekends. Kenseth is a talented driver and a threat to crack the Top 5 every time he saddles up. The limited schedule is all that will hold this team back and curb their fantasy racing value.

16. Brian Scott – No. ?? Braun Racing Toyota – Braun will start a fourth team in 2010 and Scott will take the wheel of this TBD team. This youngster made a big impression in the Camping World Truck Series last season. Braun captured one win, finished fifth in the final standings and easily won the Rookie of the Year award in that series. He will likely be the most talented rookie in this season's Nationwide Series crop, but his team is a big question mark. Big potential to move up from here.

17. Paul Menard – No. 98 Roush Fenway Racing Ford – The journeyman driver will return to the Nationwide Series for his first full season there since 2006. Menard has 130 career starts in this racing series, so he's not short on experience. He collected 16 Top-10 finishes and posted a sixth-place showing in the standings in his last full-time Nationwide gig, so expectations will be high. Racing in Roush equipment certainly doesn't hurt either.

18. John Wes Townley/Austin Dillon – No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet – This is an excellent team for two young drivers to hone their skills. While Townley had a rough 2009 with RAB Racing, he should get a fresh start with RCR and this team. He will race a majority of the events. Childress' grandson Dillon is a racing prodigy that definitely has the stock car racing gene. While he's super short on experience, he is pretty high on natural talent. It will be an up-and-down affair for the No. 2 team, but great equipment helps ease the growing pains quite a bit.

19. James Buescher – No. 1 James Finch/Phoenix Racing Chevrolet – While Buescher may be a rookie, he will be driving for a very solid team in 2010. This is the same car that went to victory lane once and cracked the Top 10 fourteen times last season under Mike Bliss' guidance. Buescher comes over from the Camping World Truck Series and he should hit the ground running in the Nationwide Series with Phoenix Racing.

20. Jason Leffler/Other Drivers – No. 10 Braun Racing Toyota – Loaded with talent, stocked with good equipment, but hindered by very brief schedule. This team made 31 starts in 2009 and is preparing for another similar schedule in 2010. The No. 10 team managed seven Top 10's with an assortment of drivers. While the team will perform well when they do race, they're not much more than a good week-to-week free agent pickup in fantasy racing leagues.

21. Trevor Bayne – No. 99 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota – This talented young driver made his NASCAR debut in 2009. Bayne raced in 15 events for MWR and collected two Top-10 finishes last season. He even won the pole and led many laps at Indianapolis before an untimely accident caused the rookie to miss out on a potential win. Bayne should make great strides this season and would not surprise us if he pushed into the Top 12 of this list.

22. Brendan Gaughan – No. 62 Rusty Wallace Inc. Toyota – This biggest thing holding this team back in 2010 is possible sponsorship problems. Gaughan returns after a ninth-place finish in the standings and eight Top 10's last season. The bar will be set higher for this RWI veteran in the upcoming season. Assuming the team races the entire schedule, Gaughan should hit the 10-12 Top 10 plateau.

23. Michael Annett – No. 15 Germain Racing Toyota – This team has some sponsorship concerns, but if they run the full schedule Annett did enough with this team last season to warrant some fantasy consideration in 2010. He collected four Top 10's last season and finished a respectable 10th in the final championship standings. While that's not very spectacular, it is very dependable for this far down in the rankings.

24. Jeffrey Earnhardt – No. 8 Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing Chevrolet – This team has the goal of running the full season if sponsorship can be rounded up. The grandson of the dearly departed Dale Earnhardt Sr. is lining up for his first full tilt in the Nationwide Series. He's already a seasoned veteran (although young) in the NASCAR regional Camping World East Series, Earnhardt has yet to cut his teeth in NASCAR's upper divisions. He made two starts in the Nationwide Series in 2009, but his inexperience and uncertain team situation limit his value in 2010.

25. Driver Yet to be Determined – No. 47 JTG/Daugherty Racing Toyota – Lack of sponsorship has this team in jeopardy to start the season. They could likely shut down. However, this team managed three Top 10's in 2009 with multiple drivers at the wheel. If sponsorship can be resolved and a good driver lineup can be formulated, this team could climb the rankings quite a bit. It's a situation to watch closely as we approach Daytona.

26. Michael McDowell – No. 81 MacDonald Motorsports Dodge – While this team wasn't the most impressive stable in 2009, they did get a driver upgrade this season. McDowell comes over from multiple teams last year. He managed five Top-10 finishes, most of them with JTG/Daugherty racing last season. If McDowell can run the full schedule for the No. 81 team, there's no reason to believe that he couldn't perform similar if not better in the upcoming season.

27. Eric McClure – No. 24 Team Rensi Motorsports Ford – McClure brings primary sponsor Hefty with him back to Team Rensi in 2010. While he has a little over 100 career starts in the Nationwide Series, McClure has never posted a Top-10 finish. The bonus with this driver in deeper leagues is that he will post the occasional Top 20 and he will be running at the end of almost every race.

28. Kenny Wallace – No. 28 Jay Robinson Racing Chevrolet – Sponsorship remains a problem for this team, but they and Wallace are committed to running the full schedule in 2010. Wallace managed a meager two Top 10's last season with this team, but could be poised for improvement if the team's financing can be settled. He is still capable of winning races and finishing in the Top 10 if given competitive equipment.

29. Scott Wimmer – No. 40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet – Wimmer brings a lot of upside to this small race team. Although their plans for 2010 have not been firmed up, the idea is likely to attempt the full schedule if possible. Wimmer has a resume of close to 200 Nationwide Series starts, so he's a good choice for this organization. He's capable of winning races and finishing in the Top 10 when given good equipment, so Key Motorsports should get a lot of bang for their buck with Wimmer.

30. Mike Wallace – No. 01 Davis Motorsports Chevrolet – We really like the veteran Wallace, but he's not in the best of team situations. He ran 17 events for this team in 2009 with three DNQ's and six DNF's. Wallace is a much better driver than this, but this team limits his potential. Better to pass on Wallace in your fantasy drafts unless he can move to a bigger and prosperous team during the season.

31. Robert Richardson – No. 23 R3 Motorsports Chevrolet – Richardson has sponsorship for 18 races but would like to race the entire schedule if possible. The team made 15 starts in 2009 with an unimpressive 26. 6 average finish in those starts. The good news is that Richardson was running at the end of a majority of those races. With additional sponsorship and some improvement, this team could climb the standings a few notches.

32. Brian Keselowski – No. 26 K-Automotive Racing Dodge – Keselowski will attempt another full season with this under-equipped race team. He made 18 starts between the team's two cars in 2009 with less than impressive results. It's not Keselowski's driving ability that has us pessimistic about his chances, it's the six DNQ's and seven DNF's that he posted last season that have us concerned. The limited equipment is the primary reason for these results and ranking.

33. Joe Nemechek – No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet – The owner/driver will likely saddle up for another full campaign in 2010. Nemechek made 22 starts in the car last season with other drivers filling in the rest of the events. This team actually raced to a Top-5 finish at Charlotte late last season with Dave Blaney at the wheel. The uncertainty of the team's status is reason to be pessimistic right now, but the upside is there for this team to do some good things.

34. Driver Yet to be Determined – No. 09 RAB Racing Ford – This is the team that John Wes Townley raced for in 2009. Currently they have no sponsorship or driver. That doesn't seem to be deterring their plans to race in the upcoming season. With engines and other equipment provided by Roush-Yates, if the right driver and sponsor land in this team prior to Daytona there could be some fantasy racing implications develop.

35. Chris Eggleston – No. 0 Davis Motorsports Chevrolet – The wunderkind of the ASA late models, quarter-midgets and legends is bringing his talent to NASCAR. Right now it looks like he'll be in the No. 0 Chevrolet for the full season. This team made 26 starts last season with multiple drivers. If this rookie can run the full season with this team, then they will likely top the 31. 3 average finish position that the No. 0 team achieved with many drivers behind the wheel.