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1. JIMMIE JOHNSON
Hendrick Motorsports, number 48
Chevy. Regular-season finish: 2nd
WINS: 1 TOP 5s: 11 TOP 10s: 17
BOTTOM LINE: After slumping earlier this season, the five-time defending champion is peaking at the perfect moment: He has finished in the top five in six of the last nine races. Johnson should win at least two races in the Chase—most likely at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Oct. 2 and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Oct. 30—and charge to a sixth title.
2. CARL EDWARDS
Roush Fenway, number 99 Ford.
Regular-season finish: 3rd
WINS: 1 TOP 5s: 12 TOP 10s: 17
BOTTOM LINE: Inside the Cup garage, Edwards is considered the top racer on 1.5-mile tracks. With five of the 10 Chase races at those intermediate-length venues, Edwards should be in title contention entering the season finale at Homestead (a 1.5-mile layout). His biggest obstacle will be avoiding the Big One at Talladega—something he wasn't able to do when he lost the title to Johnson by 69 points in 2008.