1. 16-Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing
Bayne became a top prospect in 2010 with some impressive performances with Diamond-Waltrip Racing. He moved to Roush Fenway Racing when sponsorship dollars became scarce. His talent and Roush equipment could lead to a Nationwide title.
2. 88-Aric Almirola, JR Motorsports Chevrolet
Almirola earned a ride with JR Motorsports after this team featured a host of drivers in 2010. Almirola and this group feel that anything but a championship would be a disappointment. Expect Almirola to remain in the championship hunt for most of the season.
3. 2-Elliott Sadler, Kevin Harvick, Incorporated Chevrolet
Like Almirola, anything other than the title would spell disappointment for Sadler and his Kevin Harvick-owned team. Sadler left the Sprint Cup Series for an opportunity to win a Nationwide Series title. If he does not win it, he will be legitimate contender.
4. 31-Justin Allgaier, Turner Motorsports
Allgaier enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2010 with Penske Racing, but when Verizon opted out of the NASCAR program, the young driver was free to search for other opportunities. He joins Turner Motorsports, formerly Braun Racing, as he will competitively vie for the title. I believe he will be a step behind the top three.
5. 6-Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Roush Fenway Racing
Stenhouse made giant strides throughout the latter half of the 2010 season. He nearly lost his ride, but turned around and salvaged a rookie of the year award. He enters the 2011 as a solid favorite, but I still believe he will display some inconsistency that could set this team back.
6. 11-Brian Scott, Joe Gibbs Racing
Since 2008, Joe Gibbs Racing has been the cream of the crop in the Nationwide Series, but only with proven drivers. Scott has yet to prove himself. I do not think he will win the title, but I believe he will develop into a solid driver, as he will be driving top tier equipment.
7. 30/32-Reed Sorenson, Turner Motorsports Chevrolet
Sorenson is in a similar position as Sadler. He hopes that a return to the Nationwide Series rejuvenates his career. He could emerge as a title contender, but I believe he will fall short.
8. 30/38-Jason Leffler, Turner Motorsports
This could be Leffler’s best shot to win a Nationwide Series championship now that the Sprint Cup drivers are out of the championship picture. While he is competitive at times, he never seems to have the consistency it takes to win a championship at this level.
9. 66-Steve Wallace, Rusty Wallace, Incorporated
Do not be surprised if Wallace finally wins a race in 2011. However, I do not see him as a legitimate championship threat.
10. 62-Michael Annett, Rusty Wallace, Incorporated
Annett joines the Rusty Wallace team after a two-year stint with Germain Racing. While it may be a step up, it is not significant. Annett will be a top 10 driver at best.