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6 Brad Keselowski
Is BK, the surprise 2012 Cup champ, a one-year wonder? His team, Penske Racing, switched from Dodge to Ford, which will make his bid to repeat even more challenging, as he learns the characteristics of his new ride.
7 Greg Biffle
Now that Kenseth is at Joe Gibbs Racing, Biffle is the senior driver at Roush Fenway. Fifth in the standings last season, with two wins, the Biff's always a threat in the playoffs because he excels at the 1.5-mile tracks, and the Chase features five of them.
8 Tony Stewart
Smoke led only 420 laps last season, the second-lowest total of his 14-year Cup career. But like Johnson, Stewart, who's a three-time champion, typically adjusts to major changes on the car swiftly, so he'll be a factor in the Chase.
9 Clint Bowyer
This will be a telling year for Bowyer, who won three races and quietly finished second in the standings last season. If he can produce the same level of consistency again in 2013, he'll officially move into the elite driver category.
10 Kyle Busch
Though he has historically struggled on the Chase tracks, that appears to be changing. Over the last four playoff races of 2012 the supremely talented Busch had four top fours and scored more points than any other driver.